Dubai: A 31-year-old Ethiopian woman, who miraculously survived severe hypoxia (lack of oxygen) following smoke inhalation and was in a coma for eight months at a Dubai hospital, has finally woken up. The hospital is now seeking help to repatriate her.
Recounting the extraordinary case of Tsige Geromi Guta, Dr Chaitanya Prakash Prabhu, specialist in critical care medicine at Aster Hospital, Al Qusais, Dubai, told Gulf News: “This patient, who worked as a housemaid in UAE according to the information provided to us, was brought to the emergency room of our hospital on January 19, 2020, in an unresponsive state. From her condition, it was evident that she had inhaled an excessive quantity of smoke during a fire incident. In such cases, the patient inhales carbon monoxide, which can attach itself to the haemoglobin molecule cutting off blood supply.”
He added: “In most cases, patients do not survive beyond a few weeks. In her case, we immediately provided her 100 per cent oxygenation. When she still did not respond, we sent her for further examination. Her brain MRI [scan] indicated severe damage due to oxygen deprivation [hypoxia] and her EEG test result also revealed massive neural dysfunction.”
Slim chance of survival
The hospital did not give up and continued to treat her. In February, they conducted a tracheostomy to wean her off the ventilator and get her to breathe independently. Dr Prabhu said: “We intubated her first and later did the tracheostomy. However, such patients have a very poor prognosis. There was only 10 per cent chance of recovery. We continued to follow a treatment protocol and kept supplying her with oxygen, provided her with regular physiotherapy and took care of her nutrition and general well-being.”
Dr Prabhu said that usually in cases of hypoxia, either the patient regains consciousness within a few weeks or else does not survive. However, in the case of Guta, she not only survived for nearly eight months with heavy oxygenation, daily physiotherapy and care, but she actually began responding with her emotions, following doctors and nurses with her eyes, smiling or tearing up.
“The patient was able to comprehend what we said and nodded her head to communicate. When we asked her to squeeze the nurse’s hand, she was able to follow the instructions. She had begun to communicate with sounds a bit, and every day she was making progress,” Dr Prabhu added.
Hospital authorities said that this response from the patient after nearly eight months was nothing short of a miracle. Her expressions indicated that there was hope. The hospital then contacted the Ethiopian Consulate in Dubai so that the consulate authorities could communicate with the patient. Guta indicated that she understood the communication and nodded in affirmation when asked if she was from Ethiopia.
“Now we are very keen to repatriate the patient to her home country. Being with her relatives and loved ones in a familiar environment will further chance of improvement in her condition,” said Dr Prabhu.
Repatriation assistance appeal
The hospital has already incurred more than Dh700,000 in caring for her. Now, the help of Good Samaritans is being sought to settle her mounting hospital bills as well as assist her with the repatriation.
Dr Sherbaz Bicchu, CEO of Aster Hospitals and Clinics, UAE, said: “The Almighty works in mysterious ways. This patient landed in our emergency department in a life-threatening condition."
"Prompt action from our clinical team played a crucial role in helping her survive."
"It is a miracle that the patient has survived such severe hypoxia. We look forward to helping her reunite with her family members soon.”