Our little ray of sunshine has left Shevet. Whenever we entered the Shevet family-house, Neena’s smiling face would come running to us, reaching her small hands towards us until we picked her up. Her open heart, and the joy she pours out from it, got her a place in everyone else’s heart.
Accompanied by her beautiful mum, Neena had nothing to fear. Her calmness and strength helped us to get through complicated hospital days as well in getting to the airport. As we passed the security check-point, we had to be checked more intensively than usual. Neena’s mum didn’t become unsettled, she answered the questions of the security man in patience and love.
The relationship between Neena and her mum is inspiringly beautiful. Neena looks up to her mum in everything she does which can be seen in Neena copying her mum a lot. Even the way she talks on the phone was adapted by Neena. Once in the hospital, Neena took my phone and started having a “conversation,” she laughed as if someone had said something very funny and her response seemed likewise joyful. Neena’s mum is a big role model for Neena, and she could not have chosen a better one.
Letting these two wonderful people go is incredibly hard, but we are all happy that Neena can finally see her family again.
“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28,15 ESV
Even though we have to let them go and can not accompany them further, God is always with them and will guide them on their way home.
Early this morning, Neena traveled from Jerusalem to the hospital for her last echocardiogram prior to returning to Kurdistan! Her mom shared how much she loved Jerusalem. I have dearly missed Neena’s smile while she and her mum were staying in the Jerusalem Guest House this past week. It was a sweet reunion today at the hospital. The doctor was pleased with her echocardiogram, and was confident in sending her home to be reunited with her family. I could see the joy in her mother’s eyes as she learned that she could finally return home and that Neena was responding well to the surgery.
Neena will need to return at around the age of three years. We joyfully await for her return. It is a bittersweet farewell, as we all dearly love Neena, but we are happy for her to be reunited with her family. While we wait for her return, we pray that she will flourish and grow in love, and with the love of Christ.
Last week Neena’s oxygen saturation level was not what the doctors were hoping for, but praise God because this past week her oxygen has been consistently above her target range.
It has been almost three weeks since her surgery. Today was her second echocardiogram after surgery. Her heart is well, but there is a little bit of fluid surrounding her left lung. For this reason, we would prefer that she stay another 7 days. Neena will stay another week, with hopes of obtaining clearance to return to Kurdistan next week.
Neena is always a joy to be around. Her face lights up when she smiles and giggles. I pray that she will grow to be a light of the world, for Christ. Her mother also has a beautiful smile and today was a great encouragement for another mother whose child was having surgery. She wanted to wait with this mother. In the waiting, Neena slept soundly. She brought kind and encouraging words to all.
Please pray for Neena as she will be staying at the Jerusalem Guest House for the next few days. We pray that she would have a wonderful and restful time there, and that God would protect Neena’s health while she is there.
Today was Neena’s first cardiology appointment after her surgery. It was lovely to see her and her mum, who arrived later in the day than I. Neena’s mum always has a joy-filled spirit, and she looked very beautiful as we met in the outpatient clinic. Of course, Neena was also looking so pretty in her winter coat.
Neena did not enjoy the echo at all, and it took a lot of singing from her mum and me to convince her to lie still so they were able to get some good images of her heart.
The assessments today found that her oxygen saturation was a little bit lower than the doctor would have liked. We are hoping that maybe it was because she had been upset shortly before it was done, and that by the time she has her next appointment on Sunday she will be having a much better saturation.
Please keep praying for her health. Her mum is really diligent to ensure the very best for Neena, and what better care can we give to her than to pray for her recovery, her heart and her health.
As it was the first time I met Neena who is discharged today, I gave her a knitted teddy and this dear one taught me a valuable lesson about giving. It is not always about the large actions in life
that can give joy to someone, but about the small actions one does in life for someone. The joy in Neena’s eyes to have this teddy was truly beautiful to see. It may be a humble lesson for us all.
Neena will now be at the Jaffa home as she has been discharged after her surgery. She will be going back to the hospital for an echo next week. Please pray for continued healing in this little baby’s body, thank you.
Neena was thrilled to see her friend Mustafa today! She has been moved to the secondary ICU and is doing really well! Praise the Lord! The Doctors said that she is recovering wonderfully from her Glen Procedure. They did phase one, the repair to her heart, and now it must have time to heal and adjust to the new pressures and in a couple of years she will need another surgery to repair the other part. She is progressing very well and should be able to come home in three or four days.
She was very sleepy when we arrived this morning, but when we went back in the afternoon was very thrilled to see us and enjoyed playing bubbles.
I’ve never seen any child who enjoys bubbles as much as she does! She lights up with her beautiful smile and delightful giggles. She laughs and laughs and pops the bubbles until they are all gone and then blows as if to say “more, more.”
Please join us in continuing to pray for healing for Neena and that our Father would continue to draw them unto himself.
Neena formed a single tear as she sorrowfully looked up at her mother and I with her bold brown eyes. We could not help but to smile, because we were so thankful to see her in a non-sedated state. We are looking forward to the day, which is hopefully soon, when we can embrace Neena again.
Neena was successfully extubated from her mechanical ventilation as of yesterday evening. I have dearly missed simply holding her in my arms, and listening to her laughter. Sometimes she would laugh for a whole thirty seconds, and we cannot help but to laugh with her. She has not recovered to her normal bubbly self, but she is still the dear Neena that we all love.
In the afternoon, Neena was quite tired and she eventually fell asleep while I was stroking her head.
After Neena fell asleep, that was about the same time that Taman had entered into his diagnostic catheterization procedure. Neena’s mom joined us as we waited with Taman’s mother. Neena’s mother offered kind words of encouragement to Taman’s mother. She was able to comfort her, as she had walked through similar experiences recently. This was a very beautiful moment. Taman’s mother’s eyes were filled with tears of mixed emotions, and Neena’s mother was sharing her experiences of when Neena had a diagnostic catheterization.
This moment of vulnerability, sharing, and friendship is something that we can all learn from. Messiah Jesus, in ultimate humility and vulnerability, shared in suffering so that we could live. We are now honored to be able to call him our friend. May we all seek to learn from these experiences of sharing and caring for each other.
Neena’s mother was wonderful during the 4 hours during which she waited for her only daughter to be brought out of surgery. She was strong and patient and occasionally enjoyed the company of others whom she knew from Shevet. Otherwise, she was happy to sit in the waiting room until the moment Neena’s surgery was finished. It started to rain very heavily towards the end, with thunder and lightning; her eyes lit up with excitement!
We saw Neena come out of the operating room, and watched as she was taken into her room in the Intensive Care Unit. Neena’s mum ran back to the waiting room, kicked off her shoes and flung out Neena’s blanket on the floor before quickly diving onto her face in thankful prayer for her daughter. It was beautiful to see her humility and gratitude before God.
Shortly afterwards, the surgeon came to tell us that the surgery had been very successful. She has had a Glenn procedure, and all being well, this is the last surgery she will need for a few years.
Last week, a group of Israeli girls came to the Shevet home as part of a Bat Mitzvah project. The surgeon who operated on Neena today is the father of one of those girls, and joined them for the visit. Today, as he explained the good surgical result to us, he also told us how Neena was extremely special to his daughter, she had met and interacted with Neena on her visit to Shevet. She has been asking him often, “how is Neena?,” and so it was a precious moment for me to hear him speaking not just as her surgeon, but as a father, who’s daughter’s heart is full for Neena.
Thank God that he is the most faithful of all Fathers and has brought Neena through the surgery safely.
At ten o’clock in the morning, we received a call with the news that Neena would have her Glenn surgery tomorrow. While her mother packed their bag for the hospital, a few of us took our turns playing with her.
Before she left Jaffa, we all gathered together as a community to pray for Neena and her family. We prayed for peace for her family. On the way to the hospital, I asked what emotions Neena’s mother was experiencing. She said that she was not afraid or fearful.
Neena loved playing at the hospital.
She brings us so much joy and has a contagious smile.
She did not enjoy the different tests as much, but after her tests she quickly recovered and resumed running around the hospital. She was so tired later that she fell asleep in the waiting area. Her mother carried to her hospital bed and she slept soundly.
Throughout this whole admission process, I could feel the peace of God encompassing us all. We continue to pray for a holistic peace, and a blessing of wholeness and harmony.
Our journey started earlier than expected today. We were originally going to leave at 8:30 but found out at about 11 pm last night that we needed to leave at 6:30 am. At least maybe the traffic won’t be as bad right? Or not! Oh well! Neena slept most of the way to the hospital and was a very happy camper this morning, playing calmly in her stroller while waiting for her turn in CT.
There were several small miracles to the morning. In my grogginess, I forgot to grab her file which meant no passport photos, no appointment letter, and no payment letter: 3 very important items for arrival at Sheba Hospital admissions. I texted co-worker Colin to send me photos and prayed that we could get through okay. We got through security just fine, they took the photo of the appointment letter, but wanted a copy of the payment letter. Colin had sent me scans of this, but when I went to upload it, I remembered that my email hasn’t been letting me upload files to send. Quick prayer! Lord please help this go through! And it did! Hallelujah!
We only had to wait a short time before they called us in and it was the same anesthesiologist as before so he knew Neena and she recognized him which always helps. She did very well today, everything went very smoothly and she only cried a little upon waking up because she didn’t like the oxygen monitor on her finger. It was while she was crying that I discovered the new secret for getting Neena to stop crying. Bubbles!
I bought bubbles the other day and put them in my backpack. I found them in there today when looking for something else to entertain Neena with and discovered she loves them! She stopped crying immediately and her tears were replaced by her beautiful smile and then laughter and delight! Every time I brought them out today she got a big smile and began to laugh. Yay! She was very pleased to go visit little Rovar after we finished, and then was able to play for a bit in the playroom at the hospital while waiting for her ride home.
Please continue to keep her in your prayers as we wait for the Doctors to discuss the results of her CT and decide how to proceed. The Father’s hand is at work in all things big and small. Blessed be His Name!
We spent this morning with Neena’s Mum, while Neena was taken in for a catheterisation. She came out 2 hours later. The procedure went very well and she is back in the ward. The good news is that they gave the go ahead for the Glenn operation!
When Neena woke up she was very agitated and was given a sedative. We were able to have coffee with her Mum. She was so much happier when Neena was back in bed. We were able to say a quiet prayer with them both.
Neena, a lovely 18-month-old Kurdish girl from Iraq, came to Shevet with her beautiful, loving Mum and they had her first appointment at Sheba today. Thanks to Google translator, Julio and a great nurse, we were able to communicate when the doctor decided to draw blood and set a line for the procedure tomorrow. Poor little girl and brave mum – it wasn’t easy for the doctors to find a vein. It kept me praying for God’s help and I hope and pray that the two of them will get a good night’s sleep and the cath tomorrow will be one step towards healing of Neena’s heart ❤️.
The moment I first met Neena, we instantly connected. She sat in my lap for her first assessment in Israel, and was happy to scribble over her first assessment paper. Her childlike innocence and trust brought me peace and joy. She fell asleep quickly in the car in her red car seat and when we arrived, I carried sleeping, peaceful Neena into the house. The families were awaiting their arrival and had a feast of falafel prepared for the new families. The house was lively, but even after she awoke in a strange new environment, Neena simply smiled and quickly adjusted. She has been walking up and down the stairs, pushing a stroller with motherly love, and even interacting with the other children.
Underneath her pink jacket with silver stars, Neena wore a little blue dress with embroidered flowers. One of the families commented on how beautiful she appeared in the dress.
I pray that Neena will continue to grow and flourish during her time in Israel, blooming as the flowers depict on her dress. Please also continue to pray for her growing family, as Neena’s dear mother is one month pregnant.
Neena’s diagnosis is tricuspid atresia. Her mother shared about how when Neena was born, she was already showing signs of cyanosis–or turning “blue” due to inadequate oxygen. When she was five months old, Neena’s grandfather assessed Neena and suggested bringing her to the doctor for further assessment. The doctors in Kurdistan then referred her to Israel, and we are all so thankful that she is here. Her first assessment at the Israeli hospital is on October 30.
Nineteen-month-old Neena is the second daughter born to a young Kurdish couple in northern Iraq. They were shocked to learn of her multiple heart defects, and are bravely attempting to do everything they can for their daughter, who will likely need a total of three surgeries over the next few years. This means traveling outside of Iraq, as Neena’s open-heart surgery can not be safely done there.
Doctors at the Sheba Medical Center have agreed to take Neena into their care at a greatly discounted cost, and she is expected to arrive in Israel on October 27. Neena’s family will need our support to make this possible, as her father recently lost his work as a cashier in a supermarket.