I wrote previously that Ghena’s grandma grieved the news of her baby having to undergo another surgery. She would often say that Ghena was growing and learning to play and smile, why must she have this surgery now? The doctors understood that her heart was still failing and the surgery was the only way to try to help her, but her body could not cope and a little over a week after this surgery, on Saturday, she died.
As I thought about Ghena’s life, most of it spent with her grandmother, the best and most fitting analogy is to the tender care of a gardener. Of course at first, that image doesn’t do justice to the reality of the self-intense, and self-abnegation involved in caring for a sick child. Nevertheless, the steadfast devotion to her granddaughter’s growth, the delight in her beauty, and joy at each day’s progress, like when she first started smiling, reminds me of a caretaker of a garden who is devoted to the growth of the flowers in her care.
Ghena’s grandmother is staying with us in our community home in Jaffa until the Gaza crossing reopens this week. If anything is a testament to the genuine love and care Ghena’s grandmother gives, even as she grieves, it is that she is already being dubbed ‘khaltie’ or ‘auntie’ in English, to the four Kurdish children in our home.
This evening, she and I took a walk through our neighborhood garden. She named many herbs and plants on sight, others she had to smell before knowing what they were, it was fitting to take this walk. Ghena herself reminds me of a flower, she was delicate and beautiful; seeing this garden certainly called Ghena to mind.
So I want to end with a song for Ghena. It is entitled Wood and Nails, sung by Josh Garrels and Audrey Assad as part of a worship initiative called The Porter’s Gate.
The dead will rise and give You praise Wood and nails will not hold them down These wooden tombs, we’ll break them soon And fashion them into flower beds The curse is done, the battle won Swords bent down into plowshares Your scar-borne hands, we’ll join with them Serving at the table You’ve prepared O humble carpenter
This morning Ghena went into another surgery. She was bleeding and doctors needed to find exactly where this was occurring. The surgery took around four hours. The heart of little Ghena is still very weak which is why everything is happening step by step. One of the steps in today’s surgery was to disconnect Ghena from the ECMO machine. This was done successfully and is a good step forward for her.
After Ghena’s surgery, she was taken back to the ICU where it took the doctors a bit of time again to stabilize little Ghena. During this time, Ghena had cardiac arrest. Doctors needed to do more tests for her including an echo to see if she might need a pace maker.
She’s stable again. The mitral valve is still not good. They didn’t close Ghena’s chest yet because they want to observe how she is doing in the next few days. So everything is definitely happening step by step. That makes it difficult for her loving grandmother and also for Ghena’s family back in Gaza. Your prayers for this whole situation are much appreciated.
It is interesting to note that while we waited in the waiting room today, we were joined by three other Gaza moms, whose children are also in the hospital at the moment. They all know each other from these past days and can understand and relate to each other’s feelings and experiences quite well. All of them love each other already, behave like sisters to each other, and for a short time at least, when the sirens weren’t sounding above, it was a kind of escape from reality for them to chat, have fun, and support each other.
Ghena could not continue to grow with her heart function still being poor, so today the doctors made a repair of two valves in her heart. By the end of the ten hour operation one valve was working well, the other not, and due to the large scale surgery, Ghena was put on the ECMO machine to support her heart and lungs by doing their work for them.
Since learning that Ghena would have surgery today, her grandma struggled with this news. “She smiles, she’s growing, she’s playing, why now does she need the surgery now?”
Since changing over guardianship with Ghena’s mum, her grandma has put in so much time and effort to help rehabilitate Ghena after her dire condition a few months ago. This rehab entails the infant withdrawing from sedation and learning how to eat to name just two aspects of the process of their bodies learning how to function properly.
This flourishing after a major operation, especially with a complicated recovery like Ghena’s, is only made possible by the intense self-giving nurturing of the parent or grandparent; this is absolutely vital. The self giving nurturing is what has helped Ghena come so far once her body was stable, and what made her surgery today devastating is that she has come so far, but she is still not in a good condition.
Please pray for this precious girl, may we see her smile again.
Beautiful Ghena underwent a catheterization today at Sheba hospital. The cath was successful and took around two hours. Following the procedure, Ghena was moved to the pediatric ICU and was intubated. They hope that they can extubate her today.
I spent the waiting time for Ghena’s cath to be completed, with her lovely grandmother. When Ghena was moved into her room in the ICU, her grandmother couldn’t wait to join her; she loves her granddaughter so. There was a delay though as staff needed to stabilize Ghena.
Your prayers for little Ghena and her beloved grandmother are much appreciated. I know that God can grant patience and strength to those who need it, so please join me in prayer for this for Ghena’s grandmother and for Ghena.
Little Ghena has been unwell today, and was transferred back up to the pediatric ICU in Sheba hospital. Her grandmother showed me a video of Ghena in the previous days, where she is smiley and has nice colour in her cheeks. Today however, she was pale. We agreed that she is a different girl than in the video.
It’s a long journey for Ghena and her faithful grandmother, who had hoped to be going home soon. Thank God for placing Ghena in the hands of such a caring lady. Thank you for your prayers for this dear pair.
This morning, baby Ghena had a PIC line placed in order to receive antibiotic treatment for an infection she has. This course of medicine will take a few weeks to complete, so for the time being, Ghena and her grandmother will be staying in hospital.
After this procedure, Ghena fell asleep. While visiting with them today, Ghena’s grandmother brought up a comment I had made a few weeks ago. I had said that Ghena owned beautifully long eyelashes. Her grandmother said that many, many other people share the same opinion about Ghena’s eyelashes. It is good to see this girl becoming better and better.
During this long process, Ghena’s grandmother remains an excellent caregiver for her granddaughter. We are excited for the day her mum can recieve her back home in Gaza.
Co-worker Georgia and I were sitting outside the operating room today at Sheba hospital. We were waiting together with some of our lovely moms for their children to come out of their procedures. In between moments, Ghena’s lovely grandmother and little Ghena herself came out of the secondary ICU (near the OR area). Ghena had to have an echo today. I joined them. It was lovely to see Ghena. Even though she is so small and was under her blanket, she already is a beautiful girl. She was very calm during the whole echo, the outcome of which is that Ghena needs another surgery in the future. Probably in one or two years. Her grandmother took this information with strength and calm as she has in the past with difficult reports. She really is a lovely woman and it’s always very nice to see her in the hospital. Our little Ghena is still recovering well, but since she is so small, she needs to gain some weight before she can be discharged from the hospital. Your prayers for that are much appreciated.
It was a joy to see Ghena today after she was moved to the secondary ICU at Sheba hosptial. Her grandmother said this environment is a lot different from the ICU upstairs, and is hopeful at this step forward for Ghena. When I asked how Ghena’s mum was doing, grandma said that as Ghena improves, so does her mother, and she hopes soon that she can bring Ghena back to her waiting mom.
When I visited Ghena and her grandmother at Sheba hospital today, I was happy to see that our little girl is extubated. Her grandmother was sitting calmly by Ghena’s bed and invited me to sit down as well. We spent some time together and she told me how her little granddaughter is doing. I needed a nurse’s interpretation however, and this is what she told me.Although Ghena was in critical condition after her surgery last week, she is now stable and her oxygen is very good (around 92%). She told me that she needs time now for her recovery. I was glad to hear that.Ghena’s grandmother continues to be a strong woman. I encouraged her to be patient for a little while more, and she didn’t complain or disagree. Please join me in prayer for this lovely grandmother and precious Ghena.
Alena and I went to take a look at baby Ghena, the day after her long surgery. The doctor in the ICU took time to explain thoroughly to us that Ghena is not doing well. She is in an unstable condition, and requiring a lot of medications to keep her heart, and body working. They found that there had been substantial bleeding into her chest.
Ghena was taken into surgery yesterday with the aim to repair her aortic valve, but doctors found it was not possible due to the complex anatomy of her valve. The plan now is to try and keep her stable and then review her condition, as at the moment there’s not a clear solution of what to do to help her heart.
Please keep praying for Ghena! Her grandma was sleeping when we went to visit, and it’s good that she can take some rest and gain strength to be an excellent support for her granddaughter.
Today was surgery day for our little Ghena. It was a difficult and a long surgery. The whole procedure took about six hours. When I arrived at Sheba Medical Center, little Ghena was already four hours into her surgery. Her grandmother saw and greeted us. This grandmother is one of the strongest woman that I’ve met so far at Shevet because she was very calm during the whole surgery. She was a bit busy by talking to her daughter, Ghena’s mother, on the phone.
After around six hours, the doctor came out and told us that the surgery is done and it will take some time to close her chest. They did place a pacemaker in little Ghena. The grandmother was very happy to hear that.
After half an hour little Ghena came out of the surgery and we went to the ICU together with her. There the doctors told us to wait outside because they wanted to stabilize her. After an hour, they still didn’t tell us to come inside. So we went and looked from a distance. We could see a lot of doctors and nurses staying around Ghena. I looked at the grandma because I thought maybe she would be shocked about it and start to cry because obviously there wasn’t everything going well with little Ghena yet. But as I looked at grandmother, she just looked tired and a little bit worried.
I told her please go outside and I will ask one doctor what’s going on. So I did and he told me that little Ghena is in a critical condition and that they are trying to stabilize her. It took them two more hours which felt like eternity, but thank the God they managed to stabilize the tiny little Ghena. The grandmother was pleased about it as well.
But during the next 48 hours, our little Ghena is in a critical condition, so your prayers are much appreciated.
Today at Sheba hospital, baby Ghena had a CT scan of her brain, and also her chest to try to find the reason for the fluid in her lungs. Her grandmother was waiting in their room in the ICU for Ghena to return from the scan.
Please pray for this sweet her girl, her grandmother, and especially her mum who returned to Gaza a few weeks ago. Ghena’s grandmother spoke often about Ghena’s mum who is so worried about her daughter.
Ghena’s mother returned to Gaza yesterday evening, and swapped places with Ghena’s grandmother. She was thrown in at the deep end somewhat, as on her first morning here, Ghena went into surgery to have her chest closed.
The procedure was not too long, compared to the massive surgery last week, and thankfully today’s procedure was a success.
Please continue to pray for Ghena’s recovery in Sheba’s pediatric ICU, and also for her brave grandmother who has come to stand with Ghena as she recovers from surgery.
Ghena’s mother is a loving woman. When I visited her and her little daughter in the Sheba ICU today, she greeted me kindly even though her eyes showed me that she was very tired. Ghena is slowly getting better. When I asked how little Ghena was doing, her mother told me with tears in her eyes, they were going to try to close Ghena’s chest today. But unfortunately, this was not yet possible. I tried to comfort her with a hug and she calmed down after a while. Nevertheless, this strong mother did not complain and her strength, love and patience radiated to me.
I can’t imagine how hard it must be to have a sick child, not only physically, but psychologically as well. It’s sad to see little Ghena in this condition, but she is in God’s hands and he can help her to get well, according to His plan for her life. It is always incredibly impressive to me how much these Kurdish and Gazan mothers, who are often very young, take on for their small children. However, this is a small thing by comparison to what Jesus took on for his children (us), but he set a selfless example for us, for all time, for all cultures of the earth.
Please pray that little Ghena’s weak body will recover well, and that her mother will receive strength and endurance from the Lord.
Today I went early to Sheba Hospital because of the heart surgery for our little Ghena. When I arrived at the waiting area, Ghena’s mother was already there. She was afraid for her baby girl. She did not cry, just sat with an anxious mindset. I asked her if she wanted coffee and she took some happily. I was glad to make the waiting time pleasant. But not just me! There were other Arabic-speaking families who also took some time with her. It is so nice to see how open and helpful their culture is with eachother.
Ghena’s mother told me the surgery can take anywhere from four to six hours. After almost this length of time waiting, we didn’t hear any information as to how the surgery goes. Suddenly one doctor came to us and told us they could do much for this small heart, as in switching the arteries. and they needed more time to close the chest. It was really good news.
So after some more time, again came another doctor to explain to us that it was a huge and dangerous surgery. Unfortunately, Ghena started to have some bleeding. The last two hours were too difficult for Ghena’s mother to wait. She was walking around and looking through the doors towards the surgery area. She was afraid about Ghena’s condition.
After almost nine hours of waiting, our little Ghena came out of surgery. The mother was so happy! Praise the Lord, He kepts the little girl safe. The bleeding was stopped, but the doctors were very careful with her. She is in surveillance from medical staff in the critical care pediatric ICU on the sixth floor.
We pray for a wonderful improvement for little Ghena! Please keep praying with us about her and her lovely mother. We need your prayer support.
When I went to the hospital today and visited Ghena and her loving mother in the Sheba hospital pediatric ICU, I found Ghena’s mother quite sad in her room. As I only speak a few words of Arabic and I would certainly not have understood her if she had explained to me why she was so sad, I asked one of the friendly doctors instead whether the surgery for Ghena had already taken place, and had not gone well.
He patiently told me that Ghena had gone into surgery this morning. Unfortunately, they could not finish it. There were complications during the surgery and little Ghena’s precious life was in danger. She was “out” for seventeen minutes the doctor told me, and they had to resuscitate her. Praise the Lord that this worked, and that her life was spared. This surgery was very hard for Ghena’s little body, as well as for her mother looking from a psychological point of view, and the doctor said that Ghena must now recover from it. If she is recovering well, they may try again in a few days.
So for now, her surgery is postponed. I can hardly imagine what must have been going on in the mother’s mind at that moment, but I knew she needed at least a hug to make her feel understood. So I went into her little room, introduced myself and gave her a hug. She thanked me, but understandably was still very sad afterwards. The doctor told me that they are doing an ECG and a head ultrasound to make sure that she is doing okay. He also told me as well that she is awake a little bit, thank God.
Please pray for little Ghena’s precious life, that she will recover well and that the surgery will be successful soon, if it is God’s will. The mother also needs strength now. Thank you for your prayers.
Baby Ghena arrived from Gaza last night to Sheba after a space opened up for her in their pediatric ICU. Today was a day of diagnostic tests to evaluate the best surgical plan which they calculate from test results.
Little Ghena is here with her mother, while her father and older brother are at home in Gaza. Please pray for this beautiful girl! She is planned to have surgery next week.