Tonight, after two surgeries and nearly seven months in Israel, our sweet friend Hena is boarding a plane to go back home to Kurdistan!
Possibly no one is more excited than her uncle, who expected to be in Israel for a couple of months, but has patiently stayed the course and taken wonderful care of his little niece. At the farewell party for them this afternoon, it was repeated over and over how beautiful it’s been to see his love for her over these past few months. Some of the staff at Sheba were surprised to learn that he is her uncle and not her father because of how lovingly he has cared for her.
Between a farewell party and the drive to the airport, we made a quick trip to the beach, where Hena’s uncle was eager to get lots of photos with her to celebrate their last evening in Jaffa.
The time we’ve gotten to spend with these two has truly been a beautiful gift. I’ll miss coming into our staff apartment most days to find Hena smiling and giggling in her stroller. Some of us remarked tonight that Hena’s uncle has become like a brother to us, and we’ll miss our conversations with him just as much as we miss playing with Hena.
Most of all, though, we are so thankful for Hena’s growth and healing and that she is well enough to go home to her parents and siblings. God willing, she will return to Israel in six months for a third surgery to correct her heart condition. Until then, praise God that she can be home with her family, and we look forward to seeing her again!
Today was a very important day for little Hena and her uncle, as it was the day of Hena’s Echocardiogram. From it’s results, Doctors would make the decision of Hena’s return to Kurdistan or not. Thank God it was a really happy day and very good news for Hena and her uncle, as doctors cleared her to go back to Kurdistan for now.
She needs to have another surgery in the near future, possibly after another six months. It’s hoped that Hena will gain some size and weight by that time. She is in a safe condition to be reunited for now with her beloved mother and father and her two other siblings. We are all very glad and thankful she and her uncle will have some time back home.
Please pray that she might remain in a good condition in Kurdistan and that she will grow in preparation for her next surgery.
This evening we welcomed back Hena to our Jaffa house after she finished her course of antibiotics at Sheba hospital yesterday. It seems that the end of this long stay is in sight for her and her uncle, with her post-operative echo coming up in one week. Please be praying for this date, that Hena will be well and that nothing will keep her from returning to Kurdistan next week.
When the doctors said that she had a fever and she could need up to a month and a half of IV antibiotics, we all were praying that wouldn’t be the case, so really thank God her recovery has been fairly straightforward, thus far.
Also thank God for her doctors who refuse to give Hena anything less than the best; they are an amazing team and we pray for and bless them for the work of their hands.
Also keep Hena’s family in your prayers. They probably didn’t foresee her treatment requiring six months, two surgeries and multiple caths, but as I looked at her discharge today and her multiple heart defects written out there. I found it miraculous that she is alive, that humans have the knowledge of how to sustain a life that is so dangerously complex, and that a small baby from Kurdistan found her way into such wonderfully capable hands.
The doctors say that they would like to discharge Hena in the next few days. She was in a very good mood when I visited her today, her beautiful smile always melts my heart. They are taking her off of antibiotics, as a last step before discharge. Please be praying that the results would be what they are looking for.
Doctors at Sheba Medical are waiting the results of a third blood test for Hena. The first one was positive for bacteria in her blood, the second was negative, and so the third will determine the course of treatment.
Doctors on her floor are hopeful that this isn’t something that will keep her in the hospital long term, so for now, Hena is on antibiotics.
Please continue praying for her. After seeing her today, I thought she looked so big compared to her first stay in the hospital. I didn’t really know her or her uncle then, but I was really excited to see her today and her uncle is now a good friend.
We are praying that she will soon finish from the hospital and be able to return home.
Hena’s situation has taken another turn. She has developed a fever. Her doctor ran a couple of blood tests to see what’s causing the fever.
Hopefully tomorrow, the results of Hena’s blood test will arrive. This development might have some consequences in terms of Hena’s stay in the hospital. Her uncle was a bit discouraged by this as he has been away from his home for quite some time now, and this fever may cause another delay. But he is committed to his niece and wants what’s best for her.
Luckily, Hena was still smiling when I visited her. But you can see that she is not feeling well. Thank you for your prayers for Hena and her uncle.
When I last saw Hena three days ago at Sheba hospital, she was just out of surgery, still intubated and under anesthesia.
What a change this morning, when coworker Alena and I found her wide awake and ready to play! She is now extubated, and her uncle told us she is smiling, playing, and very happy. Sure enough, she was happy to play peekaboo with her blanket, and it was so good to see her beautiful smile again.
Now that her breathing tube is removed and she is recovering quite well, Hena will likely be moved out of the ICU to the pediatric ward soon. Thank God for her recovery, and please pray that her follow up echo will show good results!
Today we are praising God, that after a long series of delays, our sweet little friend Hena finally had her surgery at Sheba hospital! This is especially exciting news for her family, who are so eager for their baby girl to come home after six months in Israel. The successful surgery today was to place a second stent in Hena’s heart in preparation for her to return home for six months before returning to have her Glenn operation.
Hena was all smiles this morning before her surgery. The house felt so quiet yesterday without her giggles, and it was so good to see her beautiful smile.
We are especially thanking God for Hena’s uncle and the love and care he has given her in the midst of so many delays and frustrations, including a last-minute postponement yesterday morning, when Hena was originally scheduled to go into surgery. This morning, when we asked how he was doing in the hospital, he shrugged and said, “As long as Hena gets her surgery today, everything is very good.”
I can’t quite describe the relief and joy we all felt when the doctor finally came out to announce that the surgery was finished and everything was good. I found myself close to tears as I walked to her room with her uncle, and again when I sent the text to our Jaffa staff that our beautiful girl was out of surgery.
Praise God for his perfect love and provision for this precious little girl. Hena’s successful surgery is truly an answered prayer for all of us here at Shevet who have grown to love this sweet little girl so very much. Please join us in praying that her follow-up echo will show good results so she and her uncle can return home to their family.
Big day for Hena! After a long time of waiting, growing and more waiting, Hena has been hospitalized for her surgery tomorrow.
She isn’t yet big enough for the Glenn surgery, so the doctors will perform a small surgery that will make her ready for the big surgery.This is a step further and the family is very happy about it.
Hena’s uncle is taking very good care of his niece. It’s not always easy for him with all the waiting and all the responsibility for a little child for such a long time. But he is doing a great job and he has been really patient. It is very nice to have them living in Jaffa with us. Hena’s uncle speaks English, so we have nice conversations with him. All the volunteers are in love with little Hena.
Let’s pray for Hena that the surgery will succeed, and she can go to her parents who miss her so much.
‘O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever.’ Psalm 136:1
The cardiac team at Sheba hospital discussed Hena’s case at their meeting this morning, and decided that overall she is not yet a suitable candidate for the Glenn surgery due to her pulmonary arteries being too small. The timing of Hena’s surgery, as with all surgeries, is important. If the surgery is performed on a heart which isn’t yet ready, it can be dangerous to change the blood flow going through narrow arteries which cannot cope. The doctors are also needing to take into consideration Hena’s family desire to have her back in Iraq with them.
It was proposed today during her echo appointment, that their best decision from the medical team would be to carry out a surgery to place another stent. This would serve two purposes, one being that the increased aortic blood flow through the stent will help her pulmonary arteries to grow and become ready for the Glenn surgery. The second purpose is that it would make it safe for Hena to return to Iraq, waiting and growing there. At the moment in her current state, it is not medically recommended for Hena to leave the place where she would be able to have a cardiac surgery. In the event of any problems with her single stent, there would be no opportunity for intervention.
Some of us here who have grown to care about Hena, remember a shock from about two years ago when a baby’s stent failed, and he died, which really dials up the emotional element of this situation.
The hospital team have come up with this plan, which is being discussed by Hena’s family. Of course there are multiple factors involved in this decision and at the moment, it’s not clear what the family’s decision will be.
Please pray that there will be God’s wisdom, His very best, His peace and safety over the precious life and future of Hena, which is the shared goal and vision of us all.
m We spent the day at Sheba hospital today as Hena’s CT-Scan was schedulted at 8:00 am. Although Hena was fasting, she was very calm overall.
Hena’s uncle was concerned about Hena’s hunger due to her fasting before the CT. He’s very kind and attentive to his little niece.
Hena’s doctor was very friendly towards us as we waited for our scan and also during the scan. He gave us information and made it possible for Hena to enter the scan earlier. Also he sang a song for Hena to keep her calm. It was very nice!
The CT-scan took us around 40 minutes and Hena’s condition was okay. We waited a bit until she got discharged successfully. Afterward, she was in a good mood, smiled a lot, and was also very tired because of the anesthesia.
Please pray for good results for little Hena from the scan.
On Friday, we welcomed Hena and her uncle back to our home in Jaffa after her catheterization at Sheba hospital, because she recovered fast and well after it, thank God.
She and her uncle have to wait for another month at our community home now. Please pray that they might have a good waiting time. Doctors have their reasons for the long wait for Hena, and everything is happening in God’s perfect timing.
Please pray also for Hena’s uncle, that he may have peace and patience in the waiting time.
Hena finally gained enough weight to have her diagnostic catheterization at Sheba hospital today. She was the first one to have her cath today at around eight in the morning. The whole procedure took around three hours.
In the beginning, Hena’s uncle was completely fine, but after one hour he started to worry a little bit about Hena because it was quite a long time compared to other procedures she has had so far. I told him this is a good preparation time for the day of her surgery, as that might take even longer.
The outcome of the diagnostic cath today is that one of her coronary arteries has a stenosis. Therefore, the doctor suggested that she wait another month before Hena has her surgery.
Please continue to keep her in your prayers and that God gives her uncle ongoing patience. We love to have them staying with us, but we know they are hoping to be reunited with their family soon.
Praise God Hena is doing well after her cath and there weren’t any complications.
The lovely Hena was admitted to Sheba hospital today for her diagnostic cath tomorrow.
Hena had to undergo some assessments today, including an Echo, ECG and x-ray before she was admitted.
During all of these, Hena was very calm and her uncle, who is always taking good care of her, made sure she wasn’t crying. In general, she is a very calm girl and doesn’t have a problem with having the assessments. The hospital staff all love her, and are happy that she is having her catheterization tomorrow and they know that she, and especially her uncle, have been waiting for the diagnostic cath to happen for a long time now.
Today is finally the day. In the Echo, one of the doctors saw that Hena’s pulmonary arteries are small, but with the catheterization tomorrow, doctors are hoping her condition will become better.
Please pray for Hena and the catheterization tomorrow.
Hena went to Sheba hospital today for another Echo and to check if she is ready yet for her catheterization. She enjoyed her Echo and wasn’t crying because her uncle, who is with her all the time, took loving care of her, making sure she wasn’t crying.
In the Echo today, the doctor could see both of her pulmonary arteries which is a good sign. However, Hena is weighing only 3.9 kilograms now which is still not enough for her to undergo a catheterization. The doctor is very helpful and wants to make sure that little Hena will be okay for her cath.
Hena’s uncle needs to be patient for at least two more weeks. They scheduled an appointment for a catheterization for lovely Hena in two weeks, hoping that she may have gained enough weight by then.
Please pray for this and for ongoing patience for her uncle.
“Little” Hena has increased by 25 grams in weight since her last weigh-in. This is important news for her, as she needs to keep growing in preparation for her next surgery.
The cardiologist found that the shunt is working very well, and it could be that her pulmonary arteries also are growing. This is necessary in order to be considered ready to have the next surgery, the Glenn surgery.
Her weight is also a good indicator of her readiness, and we have been told that four kilograms could be the sign that she is ready. She has another 25 grams to go, so we hope that in two weeks time, at the next echo, she can be put forward for a diagnostic catheterisation, prior to her surgery.
Today, Hena had her appointment with the nutritionist as I wrote in her last blog.
Before we had another blood test, Hena was staying calm because she really likes the sugary water which she gets in moments like this. While waiting for the other appointment, she was resting on my lap and I took these pictures, where you can see that she was very happy today.
We entered the nutritionist’s room where it took a brief moment for the doctor to recognize Hena and her uncle from their earlier time in the hospital. We explained the situation that Hena is not growing although she’s eating normally and also sleeping well, so no obvious problems.
Hena’s uncle is preparing a special mix for her milk, which now will have some changes. We hope and pray that these changes will bring about the effect of Hena growing at least a few hundred grams to have her catherization and surgery.
Today, my co-worker Sabrina and I took Hena and her uncle from our community house in Jaffa to Sheba hospital. From there, it was a full day for Hena.
First, Hena had an echo, then an ECG, her oxygen saturation was measured, and she was weighed. It was the same as last time, where Hena was very interested to look at the echo screen to check her own heart, which was funny for all of us in the room.
Everything looked quite good for Hena. Her doctor said her echo results are ok and as expected for her heart situation. However, last time her weight was 3.7 kilos and now, one month later, she weighed in at 3.5 kilos. This is a problem because the plan is and was that she would gain weight to have a catherization and a surgery which would require growing a little bit.
We and also the doctor didn’t know she wasn’t gaining. In general she’s doing well, eating normally, but still isn’t gaining weight. So that’s why she will have some changes with her medicine and also an appointment on Wednesday with a nutritionist to maybe also do some changes with her milk.
Please pray these changes will work out as planned, that Hena will grow, and can have surgery soon. Please also pray for her uncle. He’s taking very good care of Hena, making her milk recipe, all her medicine, and looking after her all day and night.
Today I went to Sheba hospital with Hena and her uncle where she first had an echo. Although we forgot her pacifier in the car, she managed to stay calm for most of the time. Especially it was very funny and cute when she heard the sound of the echo machine and was then looking on the screen to check herself.
After this, the doctor told us that she will need a catherization and a surgery in the future. Today she already weighed 3.7 kilos which is a lot compared to when she arrived but she still needs to grow and wait a little bit for the next treatment.
She also had a blood test where it was again difficult to find a vein to get blood because she is so small. After the nurse found a vein, it was drop after drop which came out of the needle because the vein is really small.
Finishing in the hospital, we all went to our community house in Jaffa and had lunch with the other families there. After that, we made a small trip to the beach next to our house which the uncle and I enjoyed a lot.
Hena could put her foot in the sand the first time. In the afternoon, we returned to our guesthouse in Jerusalem. All in all, a very nice day!
Please pray that Hena will continue to grow, so that she can have her catherization soon.
Today, small Hena finally got discharged from Sheba hospital. She and her uncle arrived urgently by plane in the beginning of April, and stayed in the hospital since then. After my co-workers Alena and Georgia brought them to our community house in Jaffa, Georgia told Hena’s uncle about the continuation of Hena’s medicines.
When we thought we were ready to leave for Jerusalem, Georgia quickly ran into our community house and brought out larger-sized clothing for Hena. Since their arrival, Hena has grown a lot and doesn’t fit into most of her old clothing.
We drove to our Jerusalem guest house where Hena and her uncle will stay with us for a little while. Then after some days, Hena will have a follow-up appointment back at Sheba hospital. Please pray Hena will stay in a good condition til then and beyond, we have a faithful God!
Beautiful Hena was asleep when I visited her at Sheba hospital today. Her uncle was eager to say that she has been eating well and gaining weight. Compared to my last visit with her and even from a glimpse of her under the blanket, I could tell she has grown significantly. There is a big weight difference between then and now.
Her antibiotics will finish at the end of May, which will mean she will be able to be outside the hospital for the first time since arriving in early April!
Hena is doing very well at the moment, and it appears that her uncle is falling in love with her more each day. Today, for example we found him with the baby resting on his lap, and he was hardly able to take his eyes off her, only to show us multiple photos he has taken of her, to his (and therefore our) delight.
Hena looks very grown up and big, with her hair getting long. It’s nice to see that she is starting to thrive and get better. We wait for the antibiotic treatment to finish and then perhaps they might be able to return home to Kurdistan.
After her cath yesterday, little Hena was successfully extubated today.
We are praying yesterday’s procedure will improve her heart function so that at the end of May, when her antibiotics are finished, she and her uncle will be able to safely stay with us in our Jaffa community home.
Thank God for Hena being safely taken off of mechanical ventilation!
Sweet Hena had a catheterization at Sheba hospital today; it lasted a couple of hours as the doctors worked to improve her heart function. She is now back in the ICU and is breathing on mechanical ventilation. Since her surgery, she has not had the simplest recovery, and as she is now intubated, we are praying that her little body will not have a problem being weaned from the breathing machine. Please join with us in praying for Hena’s life.
As Hena continues with antibiotic treatment, she is also scheduled for a catheterization this Thursday to assess her fluctuating oxygen levels, and to see if there is something they can do to treat her in the cath.
In addition to taking care of Hena, her uncle is also so willing to help other Kurdish families who are in the hospital, but his kindness is especially seen with his neice. A nurse told me today that she was surprised to learn he is her uncle not her father.
It was really nice to spend time with Hena today, I held her as she went to sleep. We look forward to the time when they are with us in our community house and we can take more opportunities to get to know and hold this sweet girl. Please continue to pray for her life.
As Hena has an infection in her blood, yesterday she had a PIC inserted to administer the antibiotics which she will need for a few weeks. She was back in the secondary ICU at Sheba hospital today. It was especially sweet to see that her uncle had dressed her in a blue fleece with stars instead of the normal hospital pajamas. Please continue to pray for Hena’s recovery and for her uncle as they stay a few more weeks for the antibiotic treatment.
We heard through the grapevine that over the weekend Hena’s oxygen levels had dropped and she was requiring oxygen again. This is not ever so unheard of, but we wanted to find out more about what was going on with Hena. We heard today that she has an infection in her blood, which will require her to receive antibiotics via a PIC line, for a few weeks. The uncle received the news steadily, although I know he is eager to return home, he easily accepted that of course for the sake of little Hena’s health, it looks like they will be staying for longer. Hena was sleeping when I visited her today, very cute and it was difficult to really see her; a tiny bundle in her bed with a lot of hair. Please pray for her recovery, and thank God that she is in a place where its possible to receive the healthcare which she needs.
Hena moved down to the intermediate care section at Sheba hospital during the night last night. She is doing well, but today has a fever. Her uncle is being very kind and helpful to the other Kurdish families in the hospital, many of them speak only Kurdish and he can help with translation. Thank you for your prayers for Hena.
When I visited Hena today at Sheba hospital, I saw her uncle and asked how he was doing. His response was that if she is good, then he is good. They are still in the ICU, but thank God they are both doing well as Hena has been extubated since her surgery last week. She is with supplemental oxygen now and is also slowly being taught how to take milk from a bottle. Hena’s uncle said he is keeping in contact with her parents often to let them know how their precious girl is doing. Please continue to pray for Hena’s life as she recovers.
Today I visited Hena and her uncle in the Sheba hospital ICU, just one day after she had her surgery. Hena’s uncle told me the surgery was good and they are waiting now for her recovery. Her uncle also said Hena’s parents are very, very happy about the good news of her successful surgery. Yesterday he explained that Hena is a triplet, so he came to support the parents and especially the mother, who is caring for the other children. I’m very glad he was able to come here and was willing to help the family in this way, so that Hena could have her surgery. Would you also help us by joining in prayer for her recovery?
Hena is one of the smallest Kurdish babies we have here in our Shevet community at the moment. Today was the day for her life-saving surgery that many people have prayed for, stepped forward to advocate on her behalf for, and worked hard for. Her uncle, who has taken on the extra special task of being her guardian throughout this important trip, has found the last few days to be growing heavy, so today’s surgery was especially welcomed by him.
There are a couple of other Kurdish fathers in the hospital at the moment, and as Hena’s uncle can speak Arabic and Kurdish, he has spent time with both of these dads. It was good to see the other two come to sit alongside Hena’s uncle during the long waiting hours. After a while into the afternoon, our discussion was interrupted by the familiar bleeping sound of machines and a bed being wheeled out from behind the OR doors. This is always a dramatic moment no matter who it involves, and today was no different. Hena was brought out before us. Of course Hena’s uncle realised too, and we watched together the magical moment of baby Hena arriving safely outside of the doors. The brief update of three words was called out, “ameliya tamam, alhamdulilah!,” confirming the surgery had been successful, thank God. And with that, Hena was transfered to the ICU.
After around forty-five minutes, we entered into her room, and as we looked together at this tiny baby before our eyes, connected to so many tubes, machines and wires, her uncle gave me a look of amazement. We took a moment to reflect silently that something really wonderful has happened today. Thank God that He has been faithful to see Hena, and to count her little life as valuable. Amen.
As Hena arrived to Sheba hospital, straight away after her flight to Israel with her uncle from Kurdistan, the doctors thoroughly assessed her and she is scheduled to have surgery on Wednesday. She was stable enough to be moved out of the ICU and is now on a general ward floor until her operation.
Hena, just two months old, has traveled from Kurdistan to Israel with her uncle, arriving at the airport this afternoon. The journey was long, with a stopover in Dubai, but thank God Hena remained in a good condition throughout her travel.
Hena is one of triplets, and today the scales told us that she is just 2.4kg. It was good to be able to bring her straight into the expert hands of the ICU medical team of Sheba hospital. The medical team needs to carry out its assessments before being able to make a plan of what help they might be able to offer little Hena. She has a complex cardiac condition with multiple defects.Thank God that He made a way for her to enter Israel and please pray that she will find healing here. Please also pray for peace for her mother and family back at home who surely miss her dearly, and for rest for her uncle who has stepped up to take on the special responsibility of being Hena’s chaperone in this huge stage of her life.