This afternoon, I had the honor of driving Niyan and her father to the airport and waving goodbye as they set off together on their journey home to Kurdistan. This day was a long time coming, and made all the sweeter by the fact that we once were not sure we would ever see it. Two months ago, when almost every night brought another phone call from the ICU with increasingly bad news, it was hard to imagine our sweet girl skipping through the airport, insisting on carrying her own bag, and confidently studying the boarding passes so she’d know exactly which gate to find.
Niyan and her dad have been eagerly anticipating today’s appointment at Sheba Hospital for quite some time now. Every day for the last week, whenever I go over to the family house, at least one of them greets me with a big grin and reminds me that they’re going to the hospital today. So it was no surprise when Niyan was already on our front porch before I was even out of bed this morning, full of energy and asking if we were ready to go.
Niyan’s echo took only a few minutes, after which the cardiologist took a little while to discuss her case with his colleagues. When he returned with his decision, it was just the news Niyan and her dad were hoping to hear– she can go home! She’ll probably need another cath in six months to a year, but for now there’s nothing to keep her here.
Before leaving the hospital, Niyan and her dad got to say goodbye to their good friend Asmeen, who will miss them a lot.
We hurried to get ready for her long-awaited farewell party this evening, complete with a special cake and colorful decorations. Niyan supervised the preparations, half the time rolling her eyes and telling us she doesn’t really need a party, and the other half eagerly helping and getting more excited by the minute.
Her party was a truly special time together. Niyan couldn’t contain her delight over the slideshow of photos from her four months here. Every now and then she’d spring up and run to give a hug to me or Joanne. When it came time to share words and memories of our time together, she responded to everyone’s words with “supas bo xwa”– thank God.
At the end of the party, Niyan came and gave me a big hug for a long time. “Are you crying?” she asked, sounding herself like she was holding back tears. “No, but I probably will be at the airport tomorrow,” I told her. She thought that was pretty funny, but then conceded that maybe she will be too.
Tomorrow afternoon, we’ll wave goodbye to Niyan and her dad. “Supas bo xwa,” thank God, for Niyan’s life.
Niyan decided it is a good time for chocolate cake so coworker Faye and I baked one in our community kitchen in the Ashdod house. Shortly after, coworker Zech beat some whipping cream for the frosting and it was a done deal.
It’s is always so much fun to have Niyan here with us. And so far she’s progressing along, getting stronger day by day. Thank you for your faithful prayers for this little trooper.
After being hospitalised at Sheba Medical Center for over a month, Niyan was finally discharged to our house in Ashdod. She was so happy that she could go home and had a big smile on her face every time I saw her. The whole discharge went smoothly and the paperwork was already finished when I arrived there with coworker Faye.
Our sunshine Niyan will stay in our Ashdod house until her follow up echo next week and then we will see how long she has to stay with us before she finally can go back to Kurdistan. Please join us in prayer for Niyan’s health so that she will gain back some weight and that her lungs will stay healthy.
Today was a fun day at the Zoo for Niyan. The ICU staff at Sheba Hospital had the idea to bring her and another Shevet child out of the squished, sterile hospital environment where they’ve been staying for the last couple of weeks. They suggested a little ‘outdoors’ therapy.
At the zoo, we were able to drive through a safari park with wild animals walking around our car, and afterwards saw some more animals like the giraffes on the picture. Of course an ice cream was mandatory. Overall, Niyan and her father as well as the other family with us, really enjoyed the respite from hospital life.
Thanks for your prayer for Niyan in the last weeks. This made a huge difference. Please continue praying until she can be discharged officially.
Niyan is doing so much better! Today she got finally moved to the secondary ICU at Sheba Hospital. Her doctor told us she can probably get discharged on Sunday so today was a great day for Niyan and her father!
The move to the secondary ICU which means that she is doing a lot better. She still needs to be kept under observation, but probably she will be discharged to our house in Ashdod on Sunday. When coworker Faye and I visited her she was so happy to have company again and directly told us all the important and new things that happened. Of course the most important thing was that she might be able to leave the hospital soon. She is really looking forward to coming back to our community home in Ashdod. It’s great seeing her big smile again after all the ups and downs she went through in the last weeks. We praise God for what he did for her. We’re so thankful for the medical staff at Sheba Hospital and thank you for all your prayers for Niyan. She is so happy that she can leave the hospital soon.
Thank you for your prayers for Niyan.
Our beloved Niyan is doing very well after having a lot of setbacks in the last couple of weeks. She was awake and could talk today, something we didn’t see her doing in a very long time. Although my Kurdish is not really good, we communicated with each other and she told me that the hospital is pretty boring so I tried to cheer her up a bit with some bubbles and funny pictures we made.
After that I sat with her for a long time and enjoyed her company, marveling that she is doing so well. Niyan still needs to gain a lot of weight before she can come back to our house in Ashdod but it seems like she’s on the best way towards that. Thank you for your prayers for Niyan. We will continue praying for her weight gain and her overall condition.
When I walked into Niyan’s room in Sheba Hospital, I was surprised to see Niyan completely off oxygen support! After a moment a nurse came in and told me that Niyan is doing a bit better today. They are hoping that soon she will come to the point where she only needs the oxygen support at night while she is sleeping.
Poor Niyan is still not feeling well at all, but one of the first things she tried to tell me was that she wants to get my hospital badge.
When I saw her later again she had again her oxygen mask on her face and her hands got fixed on her bed so that she doesn’t pull it off. She doesn’t like it at all, so let’s pray that soon she will be strong enough to breath on her own completely!
Just shortly before doctors at Sheba Hospital wanted to extubate Niyan today, she woke up already and seemed really unhappy. She made it obvious that she didn’t like the tube in her throat and all the other tubes and needles – at all. After extubating, her the doctors directly gave her a special oxygen mask to help her breathing. It’s still difficult for her to breath on her own and the oxygen mask helps her to do that. Still she doesn’t like it at all and kept trying to remove it, even after tying her arms to the bed. I stayed with her and her father for a while after she was extubated. It was hard to see our happy girl like this, suffering in this uncomfortable situation. She is going through a very hard time and doesn’t feel comfortable at all with all the tubes.
Please pray for Niyan and her father. Thank God that she doesn’t need to be intubated anymore and that she is recovering slowly.
In the procedure, the cath doctor found that Niyan’s pulmonary arteries are extremely small, causing difficult blood flow to the lungs. She dilated the left pulmonary branch with a balloon to allow better blood flow, but there was not much else she could do.
The doctors are now waiting to see how Niyan recovers from this procedure. In the meantime, they are doing more tests to investigate other possible causes for her breathing struggles. They suspect her diaphragm may not be functioning well, but a bigger contributing factor may be that she has lost so much weight since her surgeries that she just doesn’t have the muscle strength to breathe on her own yet.
Please continue praying for Niyan. Her doctors are still confident that she will make a full recovery, but it may take a long time and difficult steps along the way.
After another weekend of struggling to breath and the fear that Niyan needs to go again back on the ventilator because one of her lungs failed, we were relieved at Sheba Hospital today to see her doing better. Niyan is still extubated and slowly getting better. Today they were able to remove all her chest tubes which she showed us very proudly and told me that she feels better. Later she was even allowed to eat some ice cream which she really enjoyed a lot.
There is still the risk that if she doesn’t continue improving they have to put her back on the ventilator but for now she is better, thank God. It’s very nice to see that even though Niyan doesn’t have her energy back yet, she fully understands what’s going on and remembers everything we taught her before the surgeries. She loves it to tell us her German phrases, to call us weird and to decide who is the most crazy.
Please pray that Niyan will keep improving and doesn’t need to go back on the ventilator.
Niyan continues to improve. Today at Sheba Hospital she is eating a bit, a very good and necessary development after suffering quite a bit of weight loss, a consequence resulting from all the surgeries. Already you can see in this photo the improvement of just one day.
We are so thankful for this little life transformed and ask you for your continued prayer for her.
When coworker Bria and I heard today that Niyan was extubated we rushed to the ICU to see it ourselves. Her father was welcoming us with a huge smile and he didn’t look so happy in a while. I had tears in my eyes seeing our beautiful girl opening her eyes and interacting with us after all the complications she’s had over the last couple of days. She even talked a little bit to remind everyone in the room that I am quote “a little bit crazy“. We stood at her bedside for quite a while and it’s always so hard to say goodbye to the lovely girl. Her doctors told us that she is doing very good after the troubles with her lungs and although there’s still a tiny bit of fluid around her lung she is doing better and maybe the first chest tubes can already be removed tomorrow or during the weekend. Praise the Lord for our wonderfully made Niyan and that she is doing better now. Please be with us in prayer for her further recovery.
Later in the evening when I walked again to the ICU, Niyan’s dad told me with a smile on his face, that Niyan received milk through an NG tube now. Thank you God that Niyan is better! Please give her strength to recover completely and we will get our joyful energetic little sister back!
Late Thursday night, around 12 hours after Lena and I got to hold Niyan’s hands as she woke up after coming off the ventilator, I got an anxious phone call from Niyan’s dad. “Niyan isn’t good, she can’t breathe.” He passed the phone to the cardiologist, who explained that they were about to reintubate her because she was struggling to breathe, though they didn’t yet know why.
By the time I arrived in the ICU early the next morning, Niyan was back on the ventilator and sedated. The doctors found that her right lung collapsed overnight, possibly as a result of narrowing in her airways. Her cardiologist said they planned to keep her on the ventilator for another couple of days and do a bronchoscopy before extubating her.
However, by Friday evening, Niyan’s condition had worsened to the point that the doctors decided to perform an emergency bronchoscopy. Coworker Zack and I hurried back to the hospital to wait with her dad. In the procedure, the doctors removed some blockage from her airways, and connected her to a high-frequency ventilator, which can help to reopen collapsed lung tissue.
A few hours later, Niyan had still not shown the improvement that the doctors hoped to see. By 4AM on Saturday, they were holding an emergency meeting to determine the next steps for her, even considering ECMO support. It was a restless night for Niyan’s dad and for a few of us here in Ashdod.
But the next morning, the doctor in the ICU shared good news– Niyan was doing a little better! They had the ECMO machine on standby in case her condition deteriorated again, but for now it wasn’t necessary. The doctor explained that Niyan needed another CT scan, but wasn’t in stable enough condition yet. Yesterday evening, they were even able to switch her back to the regular ventilator!
When I met Niyan’s dad in the hallway at Sheba this morning, I started to ask how she was doing, and then stopped. “Wait, I don’t even need to ask. You look so happy, she must be better!” He grinned and nodded. “Spas bo khwa”– thank God.
Niyan was stable enough to go to her CT scan this morning. The scan showed that she has two pockets of fluid accumulated around her right lung, and the doctors are now putting in a new chest tube to drain the fluid. Otherwise, she is doing much better now! Her support from medications and the ventilator has been decreased and she remains stable.
It’s been a scary and difficult few days for Niyan and her dad. There were quite a few moments where all we could do was pray, “Please, God, just let her be okay.” I felt so much relief this morning walking into her ICU room to see her looking so much better. Thank God for his care for Niyan. Please continue in prayer for her and her dad.
Two days ago Niyan was called in for a catheterisation but had to undergo emergency surgery after some complications. She was sedated and intubated for two days but when we asked the doctors today for updates they told us that they want to wake up Niyan and extubate her. Those great news were a relief for everyone especially her dad who was so worried after the emergency surgery. The ICU staff reduced her sedation and Bria and I were able to be on Niyans side while she slowly woke up. It was a bit hard for her to understand why she has a big bandage on her chest and why they opened up her chest for all she knew was that they would do a simple cath. The more she woke up the more she interacted with us and even tried to speak a few words but it still was very exhausting for her. We enjoyed every minute we could spend in her room and her doctors were really happy how well she responded to everything. Her father was so joyful today after two days of worrying about his lovely daughter he could finally take a breath and relax a little bit. Pray for Niyan.
This morning Niyan had her second surgery in Sheba Medical Center to reroute the collateral arteries on the left side of her body. I left our staff-house in Ashdod early this morning but while I was still in the car, I got the message that they already started the surgery.
Once I reached the hospital, I got a call from Niyan’s dad who was very stressed and worried about his daughter. I told him I’d be there in two minutes and I could feel he was relieved once someone showed up who at least speaks a few words of his language. After talking for five minutes, he got up, told me he was going outside and I should wait here and call him if there is news.
Once in a while he walked by and later coworker Zack also joined the waiting. And then after only four hours, the surgeon came out and had good news for us: “Niyan’s surgery is over! They successfully connected two collateral arteries to her heart and closed another one!”
When I went to the ICU to join Zack and Niyan’s dad who had already went into her room, the doctors and nurses suddenly ran into Niyan’s room because she had stopped breathing and her oxygen saturations went extremely low. It was a scary moment but the doctors were able to stabilize her. They explained to us later that Niyan wasn’t awake enough when they extubated her and that’s why her saturations went so low, but she is awake enough now, so I should tell her dad that everything is fine now.
As her oxygen saturations still stayed only around 50 for quite some time, they sent us out of the room again to put her on stronger oxygen support. When we came back to her a little later, she was doing much better, having enough strength to fight against all the cables and tubes on her that she didn’t appreciate at all. I was glad to see her doing that well, she even recognized me and told me that she is not doing well and she wants the oxygen canola to be removed, she wants water and Bria to come. She couldn’t have any of this today but we encouraged her that tomorrow things will be better!
Thank you God for giving Niyan another successful surgery and for protecting her! Please help her to recover, give her strength and patience!
This afternoon, I got a surprising call from the cardiac surgeon’s secretary: “Bring Niyan now, we’ll do her surgery tomorrow.” We hurried to Sheba, where Niyan was directly admitted to the pediatric ICU. She made friends with lots of nurses and doctors along the way, practicing her English and Arabic skills and even picking up a few Hebrew words along the way. We’re still not sure of all the details of Niyan’s surgery plan because there are a few different options. Please pray for a successful operation and a smooth recovery.
Already early this morning we heard that Niyan will get discharged from Sheba Hospital back to our house today. She recovered great from her cath and the dental procedure and is totally her old self again. She was so excited to see me in the hospital and walked with me through the whole ICU and told me stories which I only partly understood. At one point she wanted to sit with me on the floor of one of the hallways and all the doctors and nurses were a bit confused but happy that Niyan found someone she can communicate and play with.
Niyan will need to come back in two weeks for a dental follow up and we are waiting for her doctors to make a decision for her surgery and how to help her best. Please pray for all her doctors to make wise decisions and for patients for Niyan and her dad!
Niyan and her dad were ready to go bright and early this morning, and very eager to get to Sheba hospital. Tomorrow, Niyan is planned for a diagnostic catheterization, and the day after for dental treatment in preparation for her heart surgery.
While we waited for her admission, Niyan taught me some new Kurdish words and worked on her English and Arabic. She’s definitely a faster learner than me!
It didn’t take too long before her room in the secondary ICU was ready and the cardiologist explained the planned procedure to Niyan’s dad. The cath tomorrow will help the doctors plan the intervention to treat Niyan’s heart condition. Please pray for a good night of rest for Niyan and her dad and a successful procedure tomorrow.
Today was a big day for Niyan! It began at Sheba Hospital with a CT scan in the early morning hours. We didn’t have to wait long for her name to be called. Niyan, a bright and cheerful girl, went into it bravely. Her father paced anxiously as he waited. He loves his daughter very much, and it pained him to not be by her side.
Unfortunately, she has several teeth infections that will need to be treated. The dentist recommended a general anesthesia within a month, during which all her oral problems will be treated. Her father was unhappy with the news–yet another obstacle to their return home.
At the end of the afternoon, her cardiologist gave her some chips and chocolate as a special gift for being so patient all day. Even after such a long day, Niyan was still all smiles and energy by dinnertime in Ashdod tonight. We’re looking forward to spending time with her in the coming days before her next appointments.
This afternoon we welcomed our new Kurdish child Niyan. After traveling from Northern Iraq, over Jordan to Israel together with our American friends yesterday, they stayed at our Jerusalem guesthouse for the first night. Today I collected both her and her dad from there. After spending a lot of time in the usual Israeli traffic jams, we arrived here in Ashdod where they could get some rest at our community home.
Niyan immediately made friends with our other resident kids and seems to feel comfortable here. She is nine years old and diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot. She already had a surgery when she was little, so she is here to place another shunt. She will also get a collateral embolization to control her big pulmonary blood flow.
Please pray with us that during her time in our house, Niyan will remain stable and safe.