Dalya's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

A Joyous Echo

Posted on Mon, 01/20/2014 - 17:50 by Shannon Kelley

It was with great excitement and anticipation that we returned to the hospital for Dalya’s follow-up echo. For the doctors, this echo exam would demonstrate whether the fluid around Dalya's heart and lungs was decreasing. For Dalya, it would indicate whether or not she would be able to return home soon.

As the lab tech recorded different readings of Dalya's heart, Dalya's aunt and I watched silently, waiting for good news as the rhythms of her sweet heart lit up the computer monitor.

Dr. Alona analyzed the results and told us the fluid around Dalya's lungs had decreased! Because of this progress, her medication has been slightly reduced, and by God's grace she could return to her family in Kurdistan in as early as two weeks. Another echo exam scheduled for next week will continue to track Dalya's recovery. Please pray with us that the Lord would continue to heal her heart and that the next echo exam would yield positive results!

Keeping a Close Eye on Dalya

Posted on Thu, 01/16/2014 - 22:00 by Kristina Kayser

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges our patients face once their surgery is complete is the increasing desire to return home. For twelve-year-old Dalya, this desire is clearly present every time she speaks of her family, or school, or Kurdistan. Her eyes light up and she smiles the most beautiful smile as she describes what her homecoming will be like. "My father told me he will take me to the bazaar, and then we'll have a big party!" She could hardly contain her excitement last night as we spoke of the possibility of her returning to school before the year ends. For an exceptionally clever girl such as herself, school is a delight and a reward. 

Over the next couple of weeks, echo exams of Dalya's heart will be the markers by which her remaining time in Israel is measured. And while she was only discharged two days ago, the cardiology team wanted her back this afternoon to monitor some fluid around her heart and lungs. The fluid around her lungs has decreased, but unfortunately the fluid around her heart has increased. A few medication adjustments were made, and because Dr. Alona wants to keep a close eye on Dalya's condition, she instructed us to be back at Wolfson early tomorrow morning. I truly respect the care and caution the doctors exercise on behalf of the children and believe Dalya is in good hands. May we continue to trust the Lord step by step for this lovely girl's healing!

Unforgettable Recovery

Posted on Tue, 01/14/2014 - 23:24 by SV

Today was an emotional day as we walked into the children’s ward of Wolfson Medical Center this morning to discover whether or not Dalya was discharged. A few hours after we arrived, the doctors gave us the great news that Dalya was able to go home today. Most of us that have visited and seen her recovery are amazed at how beautifully she has progressed. We still can’t believe she is walking and smiling as if she never had a heart surgery. 

I can see God throughout her progress as we witness how she has evolved after surgery. We are happy Dalya is now at the Shevet house again. She will have an echo on Thursday to make sure she does not have any more built-up fluid. After that it’s just a matter of waiting to see how her heart is doing. We will be sad to see her leave for home once she is healed, but we will be happy to know she is going back with a new heart. Dalya’s recovery so far has been unforgettable, and we pray that it will continue to be so.

Step by Step

Posted on Mon, 01/13/2014 - 00:20 by Marisa Schindler

As we entered the children’s ward at Wolfson Medical Center this morning, we stumbled upon Dalya and her aunt beaming great smiles in the hallway. Because of some room changes, Dalya was waiting for a new room in her bed in the hallway. It was quite a good experience for her to see the doctors going from room to room for patient visits. 

After a while this good-looking young lady with a new heart and a satisfied smile decided to make the hallway her own by walking around for a bit (a good side effect of which is aiding water drainage from around her lungs). Her skin looks so healthy, and it is amazing to see such progress in her recovery. 

Although the Kurdish families don’t normally like hospital food, Dalya and her aunt seemed to enjoy their food today.

They know this will be one of the last meals they will eat at the hospital, as Dalya will be returning to Shevet tomorrow, God-willing.

Dalya the Overcomer

Posted on Wed, 01/08/2014 - 20:07 by Kristina Kayser

Two days after a successful open heart surgery, Dalya was situated in the ICU, awake but looking a bit out of sorts. It's no wonder when you consider the physical trauma her body is recovering from. When I told her I had a difficult recuperation following knee surgery at age fifteen, she seemed to take comfort in solidarity. She took her time warming up to me and fellow Shevet volunteer Rahel, but the beautiful smile she later graced us with was well worth the wait. Her newly pink skin radiated life. 

Medically speaking, Dalya is making appropriate strides. Only one chest tube remains, and her oxygen level is 98% without any supplement. Her body is adjusting well to the changes made in her heart. When the nurse offered her a tray of food for lunch, however, Dalya balked at her options and refused to eat. "You know," I quipped, "the more you show the doctors how well you’re eating, the faster you'll be able to leave the ICU." I saw a sparkle in her eye as she agreed to eat some orange and bread. 

Little did I realize that an hour later the doctors would make the decision to transfer her to the pediatric ward! We all rejoiced together at this wonderful news. If her progress continues at this rate, Dalya may be home in Jerusalem by early next week. May the Lord continue to strengthen her and fill her with fresh joy as she overcomes each obstacle one day at a time. 

Healing is at Hand!

Posted on Tue, 01/07/2014 - 21:19 by SV

Dalya spent all night in the ICU recovering from her surgery yesterday at Wolfson Medical Center. Fellow Shevet volunteer Ruth and I headed out this morning to visit her to see how she was doing. Upon our arrival the doctors gave us a good report about Dalya’s recovery. She was stable all night, and the hospital staff extubated her this morning. Dalya’s aunt was cheerful upon our arrival, and we couldn’t wait to see how Dalya fared during the day. 

Around 11 am, we got the call to go inside the ICU. Dalya was doing great. She was awake and talking, and her vitals were looking good. She will remain in the ICU until the doctors feel she is ready to move to the main floor. We are extremely happy that her surgery went well and that she hasn’t had any complications so far after her extubation this morning. 

Healing is at hand! We believe God is going to continue to heal Dalya’s heart completely. We believe in a mighty God who loves to heal, and Dalya is not an exception. Would you care to join us in prayer for Dalya’s continued recovery, for a pain-free healing process, and for Dalya’s aunt to find rest and peace as she stays with Dalya in the hospital?

A Long Awaited Day!

Posted on Mon, 01/06/2014 - 21:33 by Rinnah Henderson

I awoke with night still blanketing the earth with her shades of purple and grey. My heart was pounding with excitement and anticipation for the day's long awaited event: Dalya's surgery had finally arrived after a trying period of cancellations and unexpected fevers.

As Shevet volunteers Kristina, Sophie and I drove towards Wolfson Children’s Hospital, the sweet Spirit of G-d came to dwell in our midst. He painted the sky with pastel pink and soft white while we lifted our voices in song and psalms to glorify His name. As the golden sun rose, G-d went before us, diminishing any traffic or snare in our path. 

We arrived at Wolfson just in time to send Dalya into surgery. Her beautiful smile radiated throughout the quiet morning hallways.

Although I could sense she was afraid, she did not cry. She was brave. Her aunt was alongside her, kissing her cheeks and encouraging her. I felt a tangible peace and joy in the air. 

Now that the surgery had begun, the waiting process started too. I was caught in a wave of memories. When Dalya first arrived, I was amazed by her composure and charming personality. We soon became fast friends, and throughout this journey we have experienced a great deal together. 

I have memories I will forever hold close to my heart: dancing in the dining room and planting seeds in the garden, holding painting sessions, teaching her a new way to sketch trees, learning Kurdish with her, holding her when baby Yousef passed away and staying with her through  that night as both our hearts broke—these are just a few glimpses of Dalya imprinted onto my life. 

And through it all I drew closer to my Creator, shining His love and light with anyone willing to receive. I interceded for this beautiful young flower. And she has changed my life. 

Through the hardship of cancellations and other delays, I put my trust in G-d to continue to protect Dahlia. I know how hard it was on her, as she was disappointed time and time again. Yet we all did our best to encourage her and give her hope. 

As morning turned to afternoon, we basked in the exquisite sunshine and were soon joined by Hazhar and Rayan. We all enjoyed a small picnic on the grass, and I felt the love from each precious heart. 

At 1:00 we got to see Dalya rolled from the OR to the ICU.

Her aunt had tears of joy as we rejoiced in the goodness of our G-d! Our joy continued when chief surgeon, Dr. Sasson, came out to report that the surgery had gone very well and a full repair of her heart defect, Epstein's Anomaly, had been performed. A malfunctioning valve was corrected perfectly, and a large VSD (hole between the lower two heart chambers) was mended. Dr. Alona also described the surgery as a "beautiful one." Dalya is now resting in stable condition in the Intensive Care Unit. 

Yet again I am amazed by the wonders of our Father. I feel His blessing and love in such a deeper way than ever before. I am honored to sit and write here today these words of encouragement and joy. We serve a living and loving G-d. Rejoice!

 “The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice[b] goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5     which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them,
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat” (Psalm 19:1-6).

Stepping Forward in Faith

Posted on Sun, 01/05/2014 - 20:16 by Marisa Schindler

In great excitement we drove today to the hospital to admit Dalya for tomorrow's surgery. This is the fourth time now that she has been admitted for surgery, but hopefully this will be the last time. The last weeks have been emotional because of all the surgery delays, and it took a lot for Dalya and her aunt to stay strong during this time. 

But as a result of this waiting, Dalya was overjoyed to be back in the hospital to get ready for surgery. First came a short check-up of her throat, which is well recovered after antibiotic treatments.

Then we spent some time in the hospital cafeteria. In preparation for tomorrow’s surgery, we ate ice cream together. You could see a big, chocolaty smile of satisfaction and joy on every face. 

After a great time of talking and spending time together, we said goodbye and wished Dalya the best for her upcoming surgery. Please pray the surgery actually happens without any more delays or complications. Also keep Dalya’s aunt in prayer, who will be a great encouragement for Dalya during this time.

Understanding Will Come

Posted on Thu, 12/26/2013 - 23:46 by Ruth Zellweger

After weeks of waiting and three postponed surgeries, we were so excited to admit Dalya yesterday for her surgery today. But before our crew left the Shevet base early this morning to be with Dalya and her aunt, we got news the surgery had been canceled yet again due to the sudden onset of a fever in poor Dalya. She was checked thoroughly today, and the doctor discovered her tonsils are infected. She was treated with antibiotics and allowed to return to Jerusalem. 

At the hospital we found Dalya lying on her bed, already dressed and ready to leave. She seemed to have accepted the fact that her surgery is postponed until the infection heals completely. We do not know why there are so many delays for Dalya’s surgery, but I trust one day Dalya will look back and see how "God has made everything beautiful in its time" (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Heading Towards Surgery

Posted on Wed, 12/25/2013 - 23:08 by Kelsey Cannon

After having her surgery delayed on three separate occasions, Dalya was finally admitted to Wolfson Hospital this afternoon for her definitively scheduled surgery tomorrow morning. This young lady and her aunt are very excited for the promise of new health this surgery is sure to bring. Please keep both of these precious souls lifted up in prayer in the weeks to come.