Mother rejects calls to “pull the plug,” daughter awakes after seven months in a coma

By Dave Andrusko

It was September 2018 and Kertease Williams knew “something has taken over and [was] ruining my daughter,” but “I just don’t know what.”

Her daughter, Kertisha Brabson, herself the mother of two small children, was “acting funny,” Ms. Williams told WBNS, a Columbus, Ohio, CBS affiliate.

At the hospital, she was doing strange things like reaching out for things that weren’t there, talking out of her head and dancing as if she was at a concert. Then, a seizure put Kertisha in a coma that would last seven months.

“I don’t have no doctor’s background,” Williams said. “[I’ve] 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.”

Her daughter’s medical issues were an incredible challenge but so, too, were those hospital personnel who gave up on Ms. Brabson. First, after much confusion, the diagnosis: Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis.

“It’s a disease where the body fights its own brain cells,” reported Bryant Somerville. “The next step was to determine how to fix it. Or, maybe, doctors couldn’t.”

That’s when Ms. Williams’ motherly instincts took hold, resulting in her daughter being moved twice.

“We were going to keep moving her because once I saw the doctors scratching their heads that clearly let me know they gave up and they don’t know what’s going on with her,” Williams told Somerville. “They told me she was brain-dead and pull the plug and all those things.”

But Williams had no time or energy for “Brain dead. Pull the plug. End-of-life.” Somerville explained that “Trying anything, she moved Kertisha from one hospital to a second, to a third, desperate not to give up.”

Why?

“Every decision that I made was because she got two little people that was depending on their mother to come home and that was her kids,” Williams said.

The reader is not told how Kertisha was moved to the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State but after a while “she gave doctors another reason to scratch their heads,” Somerville wrote.

Kertisha was in bad, bad shape. She was having up to 20 seizures a day.

“In someone like her condition there is mortality above 60 percent,” said Dr. Shraddha Mainali, who specializes in stroke and neuro critical care at Ohio State’s Brain and Spine Hospital.

Mainali told Somerville that

her team was aggressive, treating Kertisha’s condition and the seizures while monitoring medications to not do even more damage. Then, after about four months at Ohio State, came April 7, 2019. A day Williams will remember down to the time.

One of her residents texted Dr. Mainali to say that Kertisha had opened her eyes and was following simple commands.

“And he said well, she’s woke up,” Williams told Somerville. “Oh, my goodness, we just jumped up and down and screamed and nobody slept that morning.”

For Kertisha, it was the same September day she fell into a coma.

“[The nurse] was like ‘Yeah, Ms. Brabson, you’ve been asleep for seven months’,” Kertisha said. “I was like ‘Do my mom know?” she laughed.

“I am quite hopeful in her case that she’s going to continue to do well and hopefully live a normal life,” Dr. Mainali said.

Somerville concludes

Kertisha and her mother say they are extremely grateful and thankful for the work of the medical professionals at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. Williams says she owes her life to those who took such great care of her daughter.

This Christmas, Kertisha’s home with her mother, her daughter, Diamonique and her son, Perez. And she doesn’t think — she knows she’s meant to be here.