Dima's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

First Day with Feeding Tube

Posted on Mon, 07/10/2017 - 21:21 by Rebekah Yang

This morning around 8am, right after Dima's mum went inside the ICU, the medical staff extubated Dima and since then she has breathed on her own with supplemental oxygen through a nasal cannula. 

Dima's mum told me that as soon as Dima awoke, she was crying due to discomfort in her little body. It took the nurses quite some time to calm her down. Later on, mum came out of the ICU to have her late lunch and chatted with me again about how she felt yesterday and up to now. She seemed a bit happier and told me that if Dima's condition maintains well, and also if she starts gaining weight, the doctor may release them back home after two weeks time.
I am very excited to hear this and am so proud of Dima's mum. I often think of being in her shoes, and how I would handle all of the challenges and long hospital stays the way she has. It is truly amazing how she has endured. 
At the moment, Dima is recovering gradually from yesterday's surgery. The doctor is arranging a meeting between a nutritionist and our Kurdish translator friend on Thursday morning. Hopefully, this will help Dima's mum to understand how to care for Dima with the feeding tube, and all the necessary information. 
Please continue to lift up our precious little Dima and her mum. May our Messiah bring them daily peace and provide them enough strength everyday.

Dima Gets Her PEG Tube

Posted on Mon, 07/10/2017 - 05:26 by Alexa Bigl

After many, many emotions associated with the next step for Dima, her gastric PEG tube has been placed. She was on today's surgery schedule to have the tube inserted through her abdomen into her stomach, but the timing was unknown. After the nurses rounded this morning around 7am we learned Dima would be the last case on the surgery schedule for today. This was difficult for her mom to hear, as she knew the waiting would be hard. But the nurses and doctors reassured us the first cases would not be too time-consuming. 

Dima had not been allowed anything to eat since 2 this morning and she was on and off very upset about being so hungry. When she had episodes of crying it was so hard on her mother; knowing she was asking to be fed but not allowed to fulfill the need. As the time stretched on Dima's mom only rested for short periods of time on and off. It was great being able to feel useful in taking turns calming and rocking sweet Dima as her mother worked through weariness and emotions to get though the waiting. 
Once it was time for us to go down it was lovely seeing tiny Dima's face free from tubes and tape for a period of time. She is such a beautiful little girl and we can all see she looks so much like her older sister, who looks like her mother with just a touch of her dad. They are such a beautiful family! As Dima goes through this next step on her journey, we sincerely pray this is a step closer to Dima and her mom being reunited with their family back in Kurdistan. 
Dima went without a tear or cry from the pre-op room into the OR as Shea, Dima's mom, and I waved goodbye. During the time of the surgery we ate together and hung out in the garden area off the children's ward. Two hours later Dima was wheeled up, intubated, to the ICU. The tube placement was successful and Dima did well. She will remain intubated tonight and her mom has returned to the Shevet house for a night of rest and comfort. 
When Dima's mom first saw her daughter after the surgery, she wanted to see the tube right away. She had so much concern about what it would look like, how it would impact her and her daughter's lives, the difficulties of learning about caring for it, etc. But seeing the little red tube seemed to really ease her mind. With time and training we are confident Dima's mom will become very comfortable with feeding Dima through and caring for the PEG tube. And we lift up in prayer that the Lord will use this step as the turning point in Dima's recovery. We are hoping to see an improvement in Dima's breathing now that the NG tube has been removed and we also hope to finally see weight gain. With this new tube Dima can be fed more and receive more calories. We are hoping and praying for complete healing and restoration for Dima. Thank you for praying with us for Dima; we know she is securely in the Hands of the Heavenly Father. 

Suffering and Anticipation

Posted on Thu, 07/06/2017 - 22:33 by Rebekah Yang

Last night I spent quite some time with Dima and her mum in preparation for Dima's upcoming surgery.

In the beginning, Dima's mum was still struggling with the fact that Dima needed to have another surgery to put a feeding tube in her little body in order to help her gain weight.
Around 8:30pm, one of the anaesthesiologists came over to explain again the whole percedure, and he also did Dima's general physical check-up.
Later on he asked Dima's mum to sign a consent form to make sure she agrees to this medical treatment. In the end, the doctor also kindly suggested that I come early in the morning before she's wheeled to OR this morning. However, when I arrived early in the morning, I saw a very upset face from Dima's mum. She was clearly dealing with strong frustration, and I eventually understood why: they decided to postpone Dima's surgery until next Sunday.
I felt so sorry for both Dima and her mum. Dima has been hospitalized for nearly three months now. Despite the amount of time, Dima still is facing obstacles to her complete health and recovery. It is very challenging for them to overcome this.
Dima's mother shared with me that part of her frustration is because any time a child has surgery, they are required to fast. As a result, the previous night held very little sleep for them both, as Dima cried from hunger. Poor Mum had to carry her the whole night and rocked her to sleep without any breaks.
Later on, poor Dima began to have a fever. Her body temperature was around 38* Celsius today (100.4* F). Dima received some meds to reduce her fever and also cold water packing on her forehead and chest. Before I left, Dima had fallen asleep because she was so tired from last night.
Please join me in praying our fragile, delicate Dima and her completely exhaust mum. May this coming weekend bring them peaceful rest and renewed strength while they wait for surgery. May our Messiah bring His shalom upon this mum and daughter. Yes, may Yeshua bless you and keep you, amen.

Giving All That They Have

Posted on Mon, 07/03/2017 - 00:39 by Samara Noble

The first thing that struck me when I saw Dima was her beautiful eyes and exceptionally long eyelashes. She is smiling more and more and she was even moving her legs and arms all around which are very positive sign.

Today the doctors put a scope down Dima's throat to see if there was anything in her esophagus that was preventing her from swallowing. After a couple times of putting the scope down and watching how milk and soft cheese went down they discovered that nothing is obstructing the passageways! Praise Messiah!

They informed her mother that they will still put a feeding tube in through the stomach, hoping that she will gain more weight. They will put the feeding tube in on Thursday. Until then her mother will have to feed her in an upright position so that the food will go down the correct passageway. Her mother is very tired and ready to go home to see her husband and other children in Kurdistan. She was not able to take a nap but she went out and walked around with Rebekah. While her mother walked around the hospital, Dima napped for 2 hours! She was exhausted from the procedures of the day.

Her mother offered us coffee and sweets that she had in her room. It always amazes me how giving these people are; they offer from what little they have. The staff here at Wolfson hospital are so caring to their patients and I have no doubt that they are giving all that they have to help baby Dima. 


Visiting Dima

Posted on Tue, 06/27/2017 - 04:49 by Stefania Totaro

Today we visited Dima and her mum at Wolfson hospital.

When we got there, Dima's mum was rocking the little Dima to make her sleep. We helped her change the bed sheets while the nurse was giving her some treatments. After that, Dima's mum gave her a bath, and we managed to see her smiling lots of times! That was precious.
We helped her mum take a break by taking a turn rocking Dima. Mama got to eat and sleep for an hour! Let's pray for our little Dima, that she would be able to gain weight, and for her mum to have strength.

Still Fragile

Posted on Wed, 06/21/2017 - 03:03 by Stefania Totaro

This morning we went Wolfson hospital to visit Dima. As soon as we arrived there, she was tiring up a bit, and her mum seemed to be quite tired too. It is quite touching to see her intubated and she still look pretty fragile, even though she has gained some weight.

We tried to give her mum the opportunity to have a break during he day. So we lulled Dima to sleep, while her mum would be finally able to take a shower! We have also seen some pretty smiles on Dima's face, since her mum video Skyped her husband later on.
Please pray for Dima's mum as well, since she is almost never able to leave her daughter alone in order to have a small relaxing time for herself. 

Praise the Lord for Progress!

Posted on Sun, 06/18/2017 - 22:27 by Shea Lindsay

I was able to go to the hospital to visit Dima today. She was extubated this morning around 7am, was held in the ICU until 3pm, and then transferred to secondary ICU. She is looking healthier and when we saw her shortly after she was extubated, she was breathing on her own with ease. But her lungs sounded like they had a small amount of fluid in them.

She was asleep for most of the day, but around 2:30pm, she awoke and was alert. Her mother has gotten some rest today, knowing that her daughter is being well taken care of and on the road to recovery. Keep praying for her recovery and that she will be able to rest peacefully. Please also pray that when she is awake she will not be frightened and cry, because that is so hard on her little body and it will be harder for her to recover if she continues to cry as hard as she has been. Praise the Lord for the progress she has made just today! 


Posted on Sat, 06/17/2017 - 03:27 by Alexa Bigl

A couple of our coworkers came and saw Dima early this morning at Wolfson and were concerned, asking all our volunteers and staff to pray. They saw her breathing was not good and she had a fever. The nurses here shared Dima's respiratory rate has been very high the past days. And arriving to the hospital this afternoon, we saw Dima was too tired and had needed to be intubated. The doctors met around her bedside to discuss her case and asked us to wait outside with Dima's mom. We waited a long time, but we're relieved to finally learn the long wait was due to another child in the ICU needing a sterile procedure. Dr. Houri eventually came and updated us. He reconfirmed Dima's heart looks good but she is still fighting off this viral infection. They are struggling to identify the virus so they can better treat her. Dima has been started on specialized antibiotics we are hopeful will help. The doctors will reassess frequently and want to see improvements by tomorrow; please be lifting this up in your prayers. The Lord knows exactly what is going on and we pray for Dima's complete healing in the name of Jesus, Messiah. We also lift up Dima's mom. She is experiencing many emotional ups and downs as she figures out how to cope with all that is happening. May God give her strength, rest, and a heavenly joy, amen. 

Please Pray

Posted on Thu, 06/15/2017 - 23:00 by Ruth Zellweger

This morning, Cecilie, Sofie and I went to Wolfson hospital to visit Dima and her mother. When we entered the children's ward we could not find Dima in her room. So we peeked in all the other rooms, as it is not uncommon that a child is moved to a different room once in a while. However, Dima and her mother could not be found. One of the nurses told us then that Dima had been transferred to the ICU due to some issues with her breathing. 

We arrived in the ICU and found Dima lying in her bed, receiving high flow nasal oxygen. Her mother welcomed us and showed Cecilie and Sofie some videos from her family back home. Since there was no doctor available to give us some information we asked Dima's mother what exactly had happened. She told us that in the morning Dima's breathing had suddenly worsened to the point that it seemed that she was dying. So she was moved to the ICU. 

After Dr. Houri informed us that Dima actually appears to have another respiratory virus and that they do not want too many visitors coming, Sofie and I left the ICU with Dima's mother. In the hallway we met Dr. Alona who gave us an update on Dima's condition. Yesterday they had performed a test to see if Dima was able to correctly swallow. They saw that this is not the case, and it could be the result of the very low weight that Dima is having. Dima also has a very low body tone, meaning that she is not moving around or doing much on her own. These factors do not allow for a good prognosis for Dima right now, even though the heart repair looks good. Dima is very sick, but the doctors do not give up hope. They will continue to do everything they can to help little Dima. They plan on inserting a feeding tube through the abdominal wall into the stomach. And the hope is that Dima would gain weight and that with increased weight she would also be able to do more on her own and have more resistence to infections. 

This news was very overwhelming for Dima's mother, who had an emotional breakdown. She is tired and totally exhausted, worried for her daughter's life. Cecilie, Sofie and later Rebekah lovingly supported her.

Please come alongside this beautiful family in prayer. We pray for God's healing touch for both Dima and her mother, for wisdom for the medical team, and for comfort and strength for Dima's mother. They still have a long way ahead of them, but we know that our Lord loves to help the weary and burdened. 

"God is our refuge and strength, an everpresent help in trouble." Psalm 46:1


Dima's Update

Posted on Mon, 06/12/2017 - 21:55 by Rebekah Yang

Today I had privilege to go to Wolfson hospital to visit Dima and her mum. At first, Dima's mum was just lying on Dima's bed covering her head. It seemed to me that both mum and daughter were having some quiet and resting time. After Dima's mum saw me, then she woke up to greet me and tried to smile. I felt my heart aching when I saw her barely manage a smile, because I knew she was completly exhausted without any strength. However because of her love and politeness she had forced herself to get up and give me a greeting.

She shared with me that Dima's fever was gone after the the doctor gave her antibiotics and also at night Dima slept a bit better recently - praise the Lord to hear that encouraging news!

Later on, through Dr. Yoel's explanation, I learnt that they're planing to examine Dima's throat and esophagus within the next couple of days, in order to find out what caused her not being able to eat or swallow any food including milk. Meanwhile, Dima will continue to feed through the nasalgastric tube to receive the nutrition she needs.

From Dr. Alona we learned that in the last few days, Dima was having trouble breathing because she had pneumonia. But after six days of antibiotics, she's getting better now. Then, Armanj's grandmother and Maryam's mum came back to the ward after they had finished their echoes. They wanted to visit Dima and her mum. 

What a sweet picture, to see these two families make efforts to bless Dima and her mum. After a short chat, I could sense that Dima's mum felt more peace and joy, now that she had received support from the other families lovely.

Please continue praying with us to support our fragile and delicate Dima and her exhausted mum. May our heavenly Father pour out his blessing abundantly, amen.