A Challenging Day

Late last night, Niyan’s dad called to say she was having some trouble breathing. I spoke with an ICU doctor, who confirmed that she was struggling to breathe and that this was cause for concern, as they were not expecting this after her surgeries. She explained that Niyan would go to a CT scan in the morning to investigate.

After the CT this morning, we got another call, this time from the head doctor of the cardiac ICU. The CT showed some problem with blood flow through the arteries. But since they couldn’t see exactly what the problem was, they needed to take her into the cath lab immediately. As we spoke, the ICU doctors were in the process of reintubating her in preparation for the cath.

By the time Doro and I arrived in the ICU, the doctors were almost ready to move her to the cath lab. Lena waited in the ICU room with Niyan while her dad prayed outside. The cardiologist explained that they suspected the left pulmonary artery was blocked by a blood clot, and they planned to reopen the artery in the cath.

However, nearly three hours later, the doctor came out of the cath lab with a different report. Instead of a blood clot, they found that the left pulmonary artery was completely blocked by pressure from the outside– they thought possibly by the stitches from a previous surgery– and they were unable to reopen it in the cath. As we spoke, the doctors were preparing to take Niyan into an emergency surgery. The surgeon arrived and explained the planned procedure and the risks, to which Niyan’s dad responded, “Khwa gawreya”– God is great.

It was an anxious few hours for Niyan’s dad. He told us how Niyan is so special to him and he loves her so much. We were joined for the whole time by a group of the ICU moms from Gaza, who offered constant support and encouragement. Eslam’s mom even worked on learning some Kurdish words and phrases. “We all want to talk with him but we don’t know any Kurdish!” she said. Despite all the language barriers, Niyan’s dad seemed comforted by the presence of so many people praying for his daughter.

After four long hours, the head surgeon emerged from the operating room with a smile. “Tell him we’re finished and she’s okay,” he told us. In the surgery, they found that the left pulmonary artery was completely disconnected, and they were able to reconnect it. At this news, Niyan’s dad gave the surgeon a big hug and kept repeating “Spas bo khwa”– thank God.

All the moms were eager for the news too. “Okay, now tell us in Arabic!” When we translated the surgeon’s report, they all congratulated Niyan’s dad and repeated “Alhamdullilah”–praise be to God, the same in Arabic as in Kurdish. “We knew it was good though,” one of the moms added. “He came out smiling, that always means it’s good.”

Niyan is already doing better since the surgery. She was beginning to wake up and move a little, but the doctors want her to get lots of rest tonight so they’re going to keep her sedated all night. As always after surgery, the next 24 hours are critical, so please pray for a smooth recovery.

It was a tense day for everyone, but we’re so grateful for God’s care for Niyan. We’re praying that soon she’ll be awake and smiling again and on her way to a full recovery.