``I woke up! And that is the most important thing``

Patient report: Vegetative State

His family didn´t want to give him up: Ali bin Shafar awoke to a new life in Germany

``My family supports me immensely``

Vegetative state
Vegetative state, also called appalic syndrome, describes a clinical picture in which the patient loses consciousness of himself and the environment as well as the ability to communicate. Only reflexes remain largely intact. Patients in vegetative state have their eyes open, but are not conscious. This condition is caused by the most severe damage to the brain, such as a craniocerebral trauma or a stroke. This leads to a functional failure of the entire cerebrum – and thus of all higher brain functions. In Germany, it is estimated that there are a total of 10,000 patients in vegetative state. A quarter of the patients regain real consciousness in the long-term course.

‘Ali, you are a miracle,’ Dr. Neumann says warmly to Ali Bin Shafar. When the young man came to Germany from Dubai in spring, he was in a coma. In his home country, the doctors had given up all hope of saving his life. Now, sitting in his sunny room and looking out over Lake Constance, he chats animatedly with his doctor and greets the entering physiotherapist with a Bavarian “Servus!”. Since his arrival, the young father has reclaimed his life more and more.

“What I can remember? There was my life before the neurological incident. Then there was nothing for a long time and then came the Kliniken Schmieder. I was working in Dubai as a real estate agent and I liked that job a lot. I had a small family – a son and my wife Fatima, who was pregnant again. One day my wife found me lying unconscious on the floor. I was taken straight to the hospital, but the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. After the structural MRI diagnosis, they said there was nothing they could do to save my life. I was in a coma and they advised my family to end all life support. However, my family did not want to give up on me. They learned that we might be able to get help in Germany. That’s how we ended up at Kliniken Schmieder.

Here I awoke to a different life. A life in which I could not speak and could not move my arms or legs. That was very difficult and sad for me, but: I woke up! And that is the most important thing. Also, while I was in a coma, I became a father for the second time. It was overwhelming.

I had to relearn everything. I received a lot of therapy for this, such as physiotherapy, which helps me to mobilise my arms and legs. I can now move them again. In the last few sessions I started to learn how to stand without help. Today was the first time I actually managed it. But it takes time, patience, and a lot of energy and strength. It is the same with speaking: I can do it again now, but only after a lot of speech therapy. It’s a long road. Dr Neumann applied pharyngeal stimulation to my vocal cords – a new method that helped me a lot. Neuropsychology and occupational therapy have also helped me. Next up is gait training with the Vector Therapy.

My family supports me immensely and they give me strength – even if they can’t all be here. Of course it is not easy for them. But just like me, they believe in God and have never lost their faith. Here on my wall I have many photos of them. Every morning when I wake up, I see them.

I love my country, but the medical level is not comparable to Germany. There are many competent doctors in my home country, but here they just have more experience with neurological diseases and higher medical standards. The people in my home country need to know that there can still be hope, even if the conditions are bad. We as a family have found our hope again – at Kliniken Schmieder in Germany. Everyone here is so helpful and friendly and I am deeply grateful to all of them. If my family hadn’t brought me to Germany, I probably wouldn’t be alive.

My goal for the future is to be able to walk again, to recover fully and to live life properly. I also want to work again, but it will take a while until then. I will find my way back step by step. And to anyone in Dubai who is in a similar situation, all I can say is: don’t give up. Come to Germany.”