PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s only surviving sibling, Bridgette, has spent nearly two-and-a-half years confined to the intensive care unit at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare.
Report by Moses Matenga
Bridgette has been on a life support system since August 10, 2010 when she collapsed during the burial of her elder sister Sabina at the National Heroes’ Acre and has never left the hospital.
Close family members who spoke on condition of anonymity yesterday said they were still optimistic of her recovery.
“It’s very difficult because the situation of a person who cannot talk is not easy to tell,” said a relative.
“If you hold her hand you can feel that she is strong, but she can’t talk. We remain hopeful and pray to God to heal.We can’t do anything because God has to judge.”
Sources said Mugabe regularly visits the hospital to check on his sister’s condition.
Although Bridgette’s long stay on a life support system has set a new domestic record, it falls far short of former Israel leader Ariel Sharon who has been in a coma for nearly six years after suffering a debilitating stroke.
According to health experts writing on emedicinehealth.com, a coma is a deep state of unconsciousness in which individuals do not consciously respond to stimuli in their environment.
It can result from injury such as head trauma, or an underlying illness such as an infection or tumour. Patients in a coma are unable to think consciously and lack awareness of their surroundings.
But they retain basic life support functions, such as breathing and circulation.
A person in a coma may look healthy and appear as if they are sleeping, but they are unable to respond to people and things around them.
A patient in a coma may exhibit some movement such as eye opening or grimacing in response to the environment.
A long-term coma is often referred to as a persistent vegetative state.
This can last for years, depending on the medical circumstances and the cause.
In general, a coma is temporary, rarely lasting no more than two to four weeks.
After emerging from a coma, the prognosis is varied.
Many people can recover fully, some require lifelong physical and occupational therapy, while others may recover only basic functions.