Kertisha Brabson was stricken with a condition that left her at death’s doorstep. To make things worse, doctors told her mother, Kertease Williams, that she would never wake up from her coma. But for seven months, Kertease fought for her daughter and refused to take her off life support. And then, the medical mystery took a turn that left everyone baffled.
Mother and Daughter Were Inseparable
Kertisha Brabson had two kids—a daughter named Diamonique and a son named Perez. She lived in Alliance, Ohio, which wasn’t far from where her mother, Kertease Williams was living. The two of them were very close, but in 2018, the bond they shared was severed by a medical mystery that baffled doctors.
Had she contracted a new disease?
The Medical Mystery Manifested Itself
There were warning signs that started when Kertisha was 31, but in the beginning, she kept these symptoms to herself. At first, she only felt a little sick. Then she started dealing with crippling anxiety.
“I just didn’t know what was going on inside of my body,” she said. “I just knew something was wrong, I just didn’t exactly know what was wrong.” But she continued to ignore the symptoms until it was too late.
The Call that Broke a Mother’s Heart
The world changed for Kertease in September 2018, when a friend of her daughter called her telling her that Kertisha was reaching for objects that weren’t really there. Then she started talking nonsense and dancing “as if she were at a rock concert.” What was happening to her child?
Doctors Were Baffled
“I don’t remember anything,” Kertisha admitted. When her mother got the call, she rushed to the hospital to check up on her daughter and the friend who called her. However, the doctors had no idea what was happening either, but admitted her to the hospital for observation.
And then, her condition took a shocking turn.
Something Had Taken Over Her Daughter
Kertisha had been acting strange at the hospital as well, and things only went downhill from there. Her mother Kertease recalled thinking that “something has taken over and is brewing in my daughter, I just don’t know what.” And it turns out that she was right. There was more happening in Kertisha’s body than anyone realized and it was about to get worse.
Kertisha Slipped Into a Coma
“It was crazy because her body was deteriorating right in front of your eyes,” Kertease said. “That’s your child, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it, and that was really heartbreaking,” she added. Then her daughter suffered a seizure that put her in a coma.
But when her mother turned to the doctors for hope, they shot her down.
Her Body Was Killing Itself
Doctors told Kertease that her daughter had contracted anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, which meant her body was attacking its own brain cells. Patients with this condition suffer from hallucinations and delusion, but Kertisha’s doctors weren’t sure how to save her. So, after some serious discussion, they came up with one recommendation that would have broken any mother’s heart.
Doctors Told Her to Pull the Plug
Months had passed, and Kertisha was still in a coma. “I don’t have no doctor’s background, never been to school for anything, but when it’s your child you’re going to do everything in your power to bring your daughter back,” Kertease explained. But doctors told her there was no hope and she should start thinking about taking her off life support.
But she wasn’t ready to give up.
She Consulted With Other Physicians
“Doctors said ‘pull the plug,’ ‘she’s braindead,’ things like that,” Kertease recalled. “I wouldn’t do it.” So, she transferred Kertisha to another hospital but sadly, she got the same answers. “We were just going to keep moving her because once I saw the doctors scratching their heads, that clearly let me know they gave up on her and they don’t know what’s going on,” Kertease explained.
But would her persistence pay off?
Kertisha’s Only Hope Was in Ohio
Three months had passed since Kertisha fell into a coma and Kertease was determined to get some answers. “Every decision that I made was because she’s got two little people that were depending on their mother to come home, and those were her kids,” she said. So, she took her daughter to the Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.
The doctors there told her something about Kertisha’s condition that took her breath away.
She Was Seizing 20 Times a Day
Dr. Shraddha Mainali worked at Wexner’s Brain and Spine Hospital where she specialized in stroke and neurological clinical care. Her analysis indicated that Kertease’s daughter was having about 20 seizures a day.
Kertease was stunned. “I was asking God ‘just give me a sign, tell me what to do, please don’t tell me I’m about to lose my baby,’” she said. But all hope wasn’t lost.
She Treated Kertisha More Aggressively
“In someone like her condition there is a mortality rate above 60 percent,” Dr. Mainali explained. Then she started giving Kertisha aggressive medications to treat her seizures, but she warned Kertease that they might not work.
However, medical school didn’t quite prepare her for what was to come.
The Treatment Plan Was Taking Too Long
Dr. Mainali’s new treatment plan gave Kertease the hope she needed, but four months had passed and her daughter’s condition hadn’t changed. Mainali told her to be patient.
Then, the phone rang, and it sent chills down Kertease’s spine.
She Got the Call that Changed Her Life
It was 5:10 am on April 7, 2019; this was a date and time that Kertease would never forget because that’s when her phone woke her from her sleep. On the other end was one of the doctors working with Dr. Mainali.
She recalled how the conversation went: “He said ‘well, she’s woke up.’” Then Kertease screamed with joy and said, “Oh my goodness, we jumped up and down and screamed and nobody slept that morning.” She had waited long enough, and it was time to see her little girl again.
She Rushed Over to See Her Daughter
Dr. Mainali had also gotten the good news and was on her way to the hospital. “One of my residents who was on call at night texted me in the morning and says ‘you won’t believe what I saw today,’ and I was like ‘what happened?’ and she said ‘Tisha is opening her eyes and she’s following simple commands,’” Mainali explained.
But heartbreak was still in the cards for her patient.
She Had Lost Seven Months of Her Life
The nurse came into the room. “She was like ‘yeah, Ms. Brabson, you’ve been asleep for seven months,’” Kertisha recalled.
“I was shocked and just appalled that I literally had been asleep since seven months and then I just woke up out of nowhere.” But there was one question that was weighing heavily on her heart and mind.
She Was Asking for Her Mother
After spending seven months in a coma, there was only one person she was concerned about. “I was like, ‘does my mom know?’” she asked the nurses. Then they told her how her mother’s maternal instincts to not pull the plug was the reason she was still alive.
Meanwhile, Kertease was almost at the hospital and was looking forward to seeing her daughter awake, but their forthcoming reunion took an unusual twist no one, not even the doctors could have foreseen.
She Didn’t Recognize Her
“She said ‘you’re not my mother,’” Kertease recalled after walking into her daughter’s hospital room. Kertisha’s condition had robbed her of the ability to recognize her own mother. But Kertease was confident that with a little work, her daughter would return to her former self.
Doctors Are Hopeful of Kertisha’s Future
Kertisha remained in the hospital from April through August of 2019 and was monitored day and night by the medical team. By the time summer passed, she had fully recovered from her illness, so the hospital released her. As far as the odds of this happening again, Dr.
Mainali said this in a television interview: “I am quite hopeful in her case that she’s going to continue to do well and hopefully live a normal life.” But Kertisha knew that things would never be the same again.
She Has a New Outlook on Life
Brabson is back home and taking care of her two kids. But while things appear to be back to normal, she knows that life will never be the same because she realizes she shouldn’t be here. In fact, statistically speaking, Kertisha’s story is unique.
“It’s a miracle that I’m here,” she stated. She feels that she owes everything to the medical team who watched over her, and her mother, who never gave up on her, even when doctors were telling her to take her off life support.