We said farewell this week to four of our Kurdish children. Rizhna, Mariya, Avan, and Yaman have safely returned home together after all being discharged.
Getting them out of the country was no simple matter after almost all flights from Ben Gurion were cancelled. My father sent us word at 11 AM Tuesday that travel permission had come for them to enter Jordan; two hours and one trip to Jerusalem to pick up Yaman later, we were driving down to the border crossing in a car stuffed to the brim with children, mothers, and suitcases.
When there, we had a brief, alarming hiccup when the Israeli customs refused to let our van cross the border with them, meaning that they—and my father, who picked them up from Jordan—would, with children in hand, have to lug all their possessions through taxis and buses all the way to their end destination. But God is good, and eventually the border allowed them through, car and all.
Those four have been with us for a long time. Rizhna was here for over six months, Mariya for four, and Avan and Yaman for one and a half. We laughed with them and wept with them; we saw them arrive sick and return home healed. We grew to love them all. Our houses and our hearts feel hollow with them gone; but we also rejoice to see them restored after such long absences to their families. God indeed is good, and he keeps his promises.
Today Rizhna returned to Sheba Hospital for her final echo. The hospital is a scary, traumatic place for little Rizhna, but we tried our best to comfort her.
Rizhna’s echo revealed that her heart is still not great; there’s pressure on one of her ventricles and some stenosis, and these will likely need treatment in the future. But for now, the doctor says she’s good to go! Praise God, Rizhna has been discharged to Kurdistan after six long months of waiting.
We’ll send her off as soon as we’re able to arrange a trip for her. Thank you Father!
Today we got to take Rizhna to Sheba Hospital for a follow-up echo. Rizhna’s mother was hopeful that she would get to go home soon.
When we left our Ashdod house, Rizhna already started crying a little bit. The echo appointment went with a lot of tears. Unfortunately. Rizhna has a valve in her heart that is leaking. Rizhna needs to keep taking her medication for these two weeks, and then come back for another echo.
Hopefully we will hear that Rizhna can go home after that. We pray for a quick restoration of Rizhna’s heart valve.
Coworker Bjorn and I picked up Rizhna from Sheba Hospital today. She was very sad and unhappy with the hospital environment, and understandably so; she associates it with pain and fear and intense unfamiliarity. She stretched out a hand toward Bjorn and I when we came in, eager to escape from the hospital environment. We, in turn, were eager to bring her back home with us.
Her cath went well and her recovery went well, and now she’ll wait another two weeks before seeing the doctor for her follow-up echocardiogram. It’s possible the results from this are good enough that she won’t need a follow-up surgery–please pray for it!
Rizhna had a catheterization at Sheba Hospital today. The doctors were planning on an interventional and diagnostic cath. Rizhna’s mother was very nervous. She went through past surgeries already with Rizhna and she thought it would be over now. But it turns out that Rizhna needs more treatment before going back to Kurdistan.
The catheterization went well. The doctor was able to dialate the pulmonary arteries at several places. Rizhna might need this again in the future. The doctor also was able to look at the aortic valve. She will pass the information to the surgeon and he will decide if Rizhna needs another surgery soon.
In two weeks, Rizhna will have an echo and then we will know if she needs a surgery or if she can return home to Kurdistan.
Rizhna had her visit to the doctor at Sheba Hospital for an Echo yesterday. The doctor said they need to have a meeting on Sunday or Wednesday to discuss Rizhna’s situation and what treatment that should follow. This means Rizhna has to wait at least two more weeks to find out what the doctors decided.
Her mother was saddened by the news because she was very excited to return home to Kurdistan soon but at the same time, she understood that if this is necessary for her daughter to be completely well, there is no problem.
Today I and coworkers had the pleasure to pick Rizhna up from Sheba Hospital. Rizhna’s doctor decided to discharge her to our community home in Ashdod today.
Rizhna was in the hHospital for two weeks now, and we are excited to have her back with us. She has come a long way from the dental surgery, then the heart surgery and a virus all in those two weeks.
The process of getting in the car took a while. During this time I was able to get to know Rizhna’s mother a little. Rizhna cried a bit, but what made her really happy were the M&Ms her mother bought for her.
On the way home she cuddled with her mother so the car ride was no problem. She is such a strong girl, and her mother was also relieved that they could go to Ashdod with us.
In a week’s time, Rizhna will have follow-up appointments and maybe she will also undergo a cath. You are welcome to pray with us, that she will regain strength and have a good time again in Ashdod with us.
I went to Sheba Hospital today to visit little Rizhna. I found her fast asleep.
Rizhna has developed a virus and we had to wear masks whilst visiting her as well as protective clothing. Her mum says she is ok. Her mother was very pleased to see us as were all the other mums in hospital.
We continue to lift up Rizhna in our prayers. She’s come a long way and may have more to go still.
The long-awaited surgery day for Rizhna came! She went into surgery at Sheba Medical Center at 8am; the surgery took about seven hours. In the end, Rizhna’s mother was able to see Rizhna again at 4pm. It was a long day of waiting and emotions for her mother. She cried in the beginning a little bit and she also cried of relief when the surgeon came out to tell that Rizhna is okay.
Rizhna underwent surgery to close a hole in between her heart chambers, to widen the pulmonary arteries and to repair one of her valves. The surgeon was able to repair everything! Rizhna is doing well and hopefully she will stay like that.
When I entered the ICU at Sheba Hospital today, I expected Rizhna and her mother to be packing to return with me to our community house in Ashdod. I asked the nurse if Rizhna would be discharged today, but she told me no, that Rizhna will move to the primary ICU to be prepared for heart surgery on Thursday! This was a big surprise, the day Rizhna and her mother have been waiting for- for three months now!
However, Rizhna’s mother reacted not so enthusiastically. She is happy the time has finally come, but she is scared. I pray for Rizhna and her nervous mother. May God bless them.
After three long months of waiting, Rizhna finally had her dental procedure today! She wasn’t super excited to be at the hospital, and only cheered up when she was allowed to sit in the window in the waiting room with no doctors in sight.
The dentist was able to clean all Rizhna’s teeth, repair some infected ones, and remove others. This was the last obstacle standing between Rizhna and her heart surgery, so now we’re just waiting for a date for the operation. She’s spending the night in the hospital for the doctors to be sure she’s well after the procedure, and we hope to bring her back to Ashdod tomorrow.
Rizhna is such a happy girl, who is completely adjusted to her life in Ashdod. Everytime we come over to the family house, Rizhna is there waving and saying ‘Hi!’ Or ‘Bye!’ Then she wants me to pick her up and cuddle for a while. She is a funny little lady. Next week, she will finally have her dental surgery. And hopefully soon after that, she will get her well needed heart surgery. I check her oxygen every day, and it’s always in the 70’s. It’s interesting to me how she can still be so happy and active.
Please keep praying for Rizhna. That the joy will stay in her.
I took Rizhna and her mother to the Sheba Hospital today. Rizhna was scheduled for a brain MRI. It was at the end of the afternoon, so Rizhna was not very happy. She had to fast six hours before the appointment, so Rizhna was very hungry. Thankfully, everything went well. She woke up immediately after the scan and after thirty minutes, we were able to return home. The doctors will study the MRI results from today and have something to compare to in the event that Rizhna sustains any brain damage after her surgery. Hopefully in a month, Rizhna will have her dental surgery and then she is completely ready for heart surgery. Her mother has to wait a long time for everything, but she is so lovely and patient about it. Please pray for Rizhna and her mother.
Today Riznah had her CT scan appointment at Sheba Hospital. She was very brave while she waited and did not cry too much. Only when she saw the doctor, she started to cry and fuss, which was hard to see for her mother.
Thankfully it was not too long until she fell asleep due to the sleeping gas. After she woke up, and had recovered well.
Riznah was very exited when she heard she was getting treated to ice cream.
She enjoyed eating her ice cream although a lot of her it ended up on her clothes and her face.
Our sweet Rizhna had her diagnostic Cath at Sheba Hospital today. Her doctors performed it without any problems. Unfortunately, Rizhna’s pulmonary arteries are very narrow. We will schedule a CT and probably she will have her surgery after that. But for now she is recovering from today’s intervention, her mum is comforting her.
Thank God everything went well. Please pray that today’s insights will be useful for Rizhna’s doctors.
Our good friend Rizhna was finally hospitalized in preparation for a diagnostic catheterization tomorrow morning. It was a long day of waiting in the clinic, and Rizhna was happier to trot over to the ICU waiting room to hang out with Doro and the moms from Gaza.Tomorrow’s procedure is a diagnostic cath to help the doctors plan Rizhna’s surgery. Please pray for a successful procedure and a smooth recovery.
Rizhna had an appointment with a neurologist today at Sheba Medical Center. It was recommended by the cardiologist to see the neurologist before Rizhna’s heart surgery. The neurologist established that Rizhna has a developmental delay. She is five years old, but she is too small, she can’t talk and she barely eats normal food.
She will need genetics testing and a brain MRI. Especially the brain MRI is important before the heart surgery, so the doctors know how the brain looked before. If something goes wrong in the surgery, they are then able to see what the difference is.
Rizhna has a hard time right now in our community house. She doesn’t have symptoms that something is wrong, but she keeps crying all day long. She doesn’t sleep at all. Her mother is very tired and doesn’t know what to do anymore.
Please pray for Rizhna. Please pray that we can find a solution for her sleeping problem. And pray for patience and peace for Rizhna’s mother.
Today we took Rizhna, her mum and another Kurdish family to Jerusalem. They were really excited to see the city.
First we went to the Garden Tomb and then made our way through the markets. Rizhna’s mum enjoyed the short shopping trip. Then we arrived at the Temple Mount. There the families had the opportunity to pray in the Al Aqsa mosque.
After a while we walked back to the car for our trip home.
It was a long day filled with car drives, shopping and sightseeing; we were all glad to be back home. It was really good for them to have some variety, since they have to wait really long for appointments in the hospital.
Last Sunday Rizhna had her dental appointment which went well. She will need a dental intervention before a cardiac intervention to lower the infection risk. Thank you for your prayers for this child and her family, anxious to be reunited.
Today Rizhna got to go to the beach with her mom and the other families living with Shevet Achim Ashdod.
Rizhna was a bit afraid of the water with its waves but enjoyed sitting in the sand and playing with it. This was a nice day without a doctor’s appointment, but the next appointment is already in sight. It will be at the Dentist on Sunday the 28th of May.
We are thankful that she enjoyed the beach and is not experiencing any setbacks but is getting better. There are still some other appointments she has to have with the doctor and we pray that she is able to get these necessary appointments soon.
Rizhna has been hanging out like you wouldn’t believe. When we first met this little girl three weeks ago, she was constantly fretting and crying and anxious, and even the happiest of times would barely distract her. But now she is more comfortable; she laughs and she plays and she, in her own way, communicates, mostly with expressive grunts but occasionally with words. She’s become popular with the women on staff, who eagerly greet and hold her, and she runs to be held. We’ve come to see that this little girl has a big personality of her own. Her mother is less lonely now, too, since we have another Kurdish family with us! Just today they treated us to a delicious lunch–what a gift!
Rizhna spends her days playing, watching TV, and eating chocolate, one of the few things she has a consistent appetite for. Sometimes we go to the park or to the beach or to the grocery market. There’s not much else to do in the meantime, besides wait–her first appointment is still a long ways out. But while we wait we will take joy in getting to know and love this little girl better!
Rizhna had her first echo at Sheba Hospital this morning. It was not without its difficulties, as she is very afraid of doctors and was not pleased by the echo procedure. It soon became clear that she would need some sedation medicine to help her stay calm enough for the echo. Once she got this, the whole procedure became much easier, and the echo tech and two cardiologists were able to get nearly 200 images of her heart.
Rizhna’s situation is a bit complicated. She has multiple heart defects, including pulmonary stenosis and a complete connection between all four chambers of her heart. Additionally, she has some severe developmental delays. These are likely caused by a syndrome that could have caused her heart defects as well.
Rizhna’s cardiologists will discuss her case at their meeting at the beginning of next week and let us know what the next steps are. They expect that she will need a diagnostic cath, a cardiac CT, and some dental repairs before she is ready for surgery.
Two days ago four and a half year old Rizhna went together with her mother on a long journey to come here to us. First they flew from Kurdistan to Jordan where they were collected by Shevet Achim coworkers, including Tatiana and were welcomed as their guests for two nights. We received pictures and videos from them and saw that they had a great time there together.
This morning these two moms and their children then started the second part of their journey and went through the border from Jordan to Israel where coworker Michiel and I collected them and brought them to our community house in Ashdod. Here they are starting to feel at home now and we are excited to get to know them better.
Rizhna has a combination of multiple heart defects including an AV canal, pulmonary stenosis and an overriding aorta. She also has some other genetic defects, her doctors in Kurdistan suspect that it might be Williams syndrome, wherefore she is developmentally delayed and for example doesn’t speak yet even though she is already four and a half years old.
Rizhna was very tired from all the travels and directly fell asleep in her bed in Ashdod. Tomorrow she will have her first echo at Sheba Hospital. We pray she and her mom will have a good start here in Israel, for successful treatment for her, and that God touches their hearts.