By Suleyman Elcin
ANTALYA, Turkey (AA) - The unique story of a Turkish middle-aged woman taking care of a severely paralyzed "Russian" teenager began 10 years ago at a hospital and ended Tuesday at another medical facility.
Gulsum Kabadayi’s tale of her selfless sacrifice starts in August 2008 at Akdeniz University Hospital in southern Antalya province when she found an unattended teenager who had been paralyzed and was left unconscious in the intensive care unit following a dreadful accident.
Nobody knew his name or where he came from. He was so weak he weighed just 40 kilograms (88 pounds).
Kabadayi started taking care of the helpless teenager as her own son whom everybody came to believe was Russian since he resembled Russians and responded to only Russian words.
Despite having three children of her own, Kabadayi adopted the boy and chose to become his foster mother.
She gave him the name Umut, which means hope in Turkish.
Her story about taking care of the unknown teenager was given wide coverage in several media outlets in hopes that perhaps someday he would be reunited with his biological family.
Kabadayi was also invited to a Russian television channel and was even visited by a Russian presidential aide and some Russian lawmakers.
- Happiest time
She was also named “Mother of Year” several times for sacrificing so much for her foster son, who was unable to sit on a chair and even hold his head straight without help.
She even decided to change her house in the center of Antalya and moved to Korkuteli district, northwest of the city, after she sensed Umut was disturbed by the hot weather.
The boy went through several medical treatments in Antalya and northern Samsun provinces over the year.
Over a period of time, Umut started to respond to questions with his eyelids and managed to raise his hand.
In Korkuteli, Kabadayi established an association for families of disabled people and helped them get wheelchairs and medical attention.
She said the happiest time of her life was when Umut called her “mother” two years back.
Umut’s health deteriorated 10 days ago and died on Tuesday following multiple organ failure.
“I hope I’ll meet my son again in heaven,” Kabadayi said, as she burst into tears while clutching the last t-shirt Umut wore.