Dyako's Heart Surgery

Northern Iraq

Striding Forward

Posted on Wed, 04/16/2014 - 19:56 by Elsie Fei

Aad, Archie, Rahel, and I set off this morning to see Dyako and his mother. When we arrived at the hospital after a two-and-a-half-hour drive (we were delayed by a massive traffic jam), Dyako’s mother was in the ICU with him. Rahel went in first and came out to report Dyako’s mother was exhausted but required to be by Dyako’s side, as per the nurses’ orders. We decided to give her a break. Rahel took her out of the ICU for lunch, while I stayed by Dyako’s side. Both of them enjoyed the sun and a red flower shaped like a bottle brush (God's creative hand at work). 

Dyako was crying when I went in. I sang to him, and he quieted a little and looked at me with those big, brown, melt-your-heart eyes. Then he got fussy again. The nurse came at this point, and I believe she inserted a suppository. Later a tell-tale smell indicated the suppository had worked, and the nurse came to clean Dyako up and change his diaper. He started crying again, and I had no idea why. I tried all the tricks I had up my sleeve to calm him, which are not many. I gave him his pacifier, I stroked his forehead, I rocked him gently on the shoulders, and I shook his baby rattle.

But nothing worked, and he continued crying. I could only pray his discomfort would go away. Then Dyako’s mother came in and carried him gently in her arms. Only then did he stop crying. In his mother’s warm, comforting arms, Dyako smiled. He needs the sweet, secure touch of his mother.

Later the nurse bought a milk bottle, and his mother fed him. Something seemed to be troubling his drinking, however, as he rejected the milk bottle after a few sucks. His mother let him take a break from sucking and rocked him gently.

Archie then came into the ICU, and we prayed for Dyako and his mother. After this, Rahel and Aad switched places with Archie and I. Aad stayed with Dyako for a while, and when he came out, he reported Dyako was smiling and taking his milk.

I thank God Dyako has made big strides in his recovery since I last saw him on his surgery day. Back then he was sedated, and his little chest was open. Today he is conscious, able to recognize his mother, crying, moving his bowels (with a little help) and taking in milk. God answers our prayers! 

Answered Prayers: Dyako is Awake!

Posted on Sun, 04/13/2014 - 20:04 by Kristina Kayser

A mere three days ago, Dyako lay in stable but critical condition in Wolfson's ICU. You may remember chief surgeon Dr. Sasson requesting we pray for this fragile baby to recover with high oxygen saturation from his first stage of surgery and for his left ventricle to grow. I am happy to announce we serve a God who faithfully answers the cries of our heart. The first prayer was answered on Friday morning when Dyako was successfully taken off the ventilator and began breathing on his own. How our community rejoiced upon receiving this wonderful news over the phone before the eventide of Shabbat. I couldn't wait to behold this miracle with my own eyes. 

Upon approaching Dyako's bedside this morning, I was greeted by his happy mother.

The weight of the world has been lifted from her shoulders. Her smile was full of the sincerest contentment you can imagine. Cardiologist Dr. Alona was also present and finishing an echo exam. "He looks wonderful!" she exclaimed. The BT shunt, which had faltered with a blood clot last week, is functioning well and supplying increased oxygen without any further complications. Moreover, with only minimal oxygen from a nasal cannula, Dyako's oxygen saturation is in the mid 70's to 80's, a dramatic improvement from his pre-surgery condition.

The final answer to our prayers came when Dr. Alona informed me Dyako’s left ventricle has grown in size from 40mm to 70mm in less than one week! A pulmonary banding procedure is also doing its job to strengthen and expand this compromised cardiac chamber. All of these promising factors serve to prepare Dyako's heart for a full repair in three months’ time.

Dyako himself met me with clear, bright eyes. The rosy hue of his cheeks and lips are evidence of changes within. He babbled on with baby coos, and his appetite was satisfied with a bottle of milk.

My reaction to this sight? Wonder. Joy. Hope. Thankfulness. The last time I had seen him, Dr. Sasson was seated nearby, and my prayer was that Dyako would survive the night. Now here I was seeing our greatest hopes materialized.

Dyako's mother and I praised God together for healing her precious boy. Truly, the Lord is our Healer and the Giver of Life! As we prepare this week to remember the death and resurrection of our Messiah, it is clear His same resurrection power is still at work today! May you be inspired by Dyako's healing to find in Jesus a living hope!

Loving Care and Prayer Sustaining Dyako

Posted on Thu, 04/10/2014 - 03:00 by Jonathan Miles

Today we found the medical team in the Wolfson Medical Center pediatric ICU lovingly caring for Dyako and a room full of other children from around the world. 

Dyako has been stable long enough that his chest was finally closed this morning. At his bedside the surgeon Lior Sasson explained that this first surgery is always a shock to a child with transposed great arteries, as it is a reworking of the whole circulatory system. If by God's grace Dyako recovers from this surgery, Dr. Sasson explained that prospects for his second surgery are good. At our request Dr. Sasson kindly explained how we can be specifically praying for Dyako:

Let's pray also for Dr. Sasson, the ICU head Sion Houry, chief cardiologist Akive Tamir, and all their team, that they won't grow weary as we see them day by day, year by year, laying down their own lives for the sake of saving those of their neighbors' children. 

Stable But Critical

Posted on Wed, 04/09/2014 - 21:17 by Violet McCombe

Jesse, Miriam, and I went to the hospital today wondering what news we would find on Dyako. Upon our arrival, we met his mother looking tired from lack of sleep and anxiety. She was, however, accepting the situation bravely and was in reasonably good spirits.

We discovered Dyako’s condition is stable but still critical. His chest has remained open since the emergency intervention yesterday to remove the clot blocking his shunt and causing cardiac arrest. Entering the ICU with his mother, we saw the little "mite" lying motionless except for his ventilator-controlled breathing.

He lay in a large bed surrounded by many attached tubes and cables monitoring his vital signs and controlling his intake of intravenous fluids and medicines.

As we stood observing, we were conscious of the close attention Dyako has received from the medical and nursing staff. They have poured their hearts into caring and providing for him over the last several days. 

Before we left, we prayed for Dyako, his mother, and the medical staff. If he continues to remain stable, the medical staff will close his chest tomorrow. We give thanks we can commit Dyako to the Lord's grace and care. 

A Dangerous Time

Posted on Tue, 04/08/2014 - 23:00 by Elsie Fei

Today was the day of Dyako’s surgery. Rahel, Jesse, and I set off early in the morning before dawn to arrive on time for his surgery scheduled for 7 AM. When we arrived, Dyako was in his mother’s arms. Though asleep, he seemed to be in discomfort, his breathing labored. His mother gently rocked him, and after a while he rested. We waited for about an hour before he was brought wide-awake into the surgery theater at 8 AM. Though Dyako left his mother’s protective arms and was alone in his baby cot as he was wheeled in, he did not cry at all. He was a brave boy indeed.

Rahel and Dyako’s mother went with him into the surgery room and re-emerged before long.

We encouraged his mother to rest, as she did not sleep at all the previous night. She was understandably anxious, however, and could not sit still, let alone rest. Rahel bought some bagels for all of us, and we took Dyako’s mother out into the sun to eat them.

While we were enjoying the sun and eating the bagels, Jesse read our community's watch word of the day just received from volunteer Ruth: “The glory of the Son.” I heard “The glory of the sun,” and I thought how appropriate it was that we were basking in the sun, though the Son is more glorious.

After our bagel picnic, we continued our vigil. At about 2 PM the wait was over, and Dyako was in the ICU.

Rahel and his mother went in to have a quick look, and his mother seemed relieved the surgery was over.

We then went to check on Dawod and Rozhgar, who are both doing well. The Gaza team joined us, and together in the children’s playground we had a relaxing time with sodas bought by volunteer Lina. At about 4 PM it was time to go, and we said our good-byes.

As we passed by the ICU, Rahel went to have a quick check on Dyako. It was then we were told he was ‘not good.’ Two simple words, but they created an emotional upheaval! We gathered the Shevet team together and prayed. Then we gently broke the news to his mother, trying not to cause alarm. Upon hearing the news, she rushed to the ICU but was denied entry. We learned other mothers in the ICU were also asked out and denied entry. The vigil began again. This time, though, the atmosphere was tense, and Dyako’s mother was in tears. Shortly after we arrived at the ICU, we saw Dr. Sasson (the surgeon) enter the room.

The wait was almost two hours long. Finally, we had an update. Dyako’s vital signs were not good, and a blood clot had been found in his BT shunt. The medical team in the ICU had re-opened his heart and cleared the clot. They increased the medication to thin his blood to prevent future clotting.

Dyako’s condition needs monitoring, and Dr. Sasson remains in the ICU to keep a keen eye on him. One of the waiting mothers outside the ICU consoled Dyako’s mother, saying this hospital has the best doctors and she trusts them with her eyes closed. We asked Dyako’s mother to go to the ward and rest in Rozhgar’s bed. She agreed and went obediently. After settling her in, we left the hospital, leaving her and Dyako in the care of the best physician, Jesus.

Surgery Approaches

Posted on Sun, 04/06/2014 - 20:20 by Rahel Eschler

I and two other volunteers had the pleasure this past Friday to visit Dyako and his mum at the hospital. Dyako’s mother had been longing to see me, as I hadn't visited her since Dyako’s admittance day. In fact, she had missed us to the extent of sending video messages to say hello to those currently on base back on Prophet’s Street.

When we spotted Dyako at the children’s ward, he was looking a lot better and less blue than on his arrival day.

A brief look into his patient’s file confirmed my observation. After being on oxygen for a few days, his body has a much better oxygen saturation, hovering around the low seventy’s.

During our visit, Dyako’s mum kindly served me hot tea and was happy to have my company. She also made good use of her language skills (she speaks a total of five languages and is currently attempting to learn some Hebrew) to make friends with other mothers from Gaza or the West Bank staying on the same ward.

While Dyako was smiling a lot and working out by throwing his arms and legs around, his mum was more serious about the whole situation. She is worried about her precious, little son soon having to undergo two surgeries with several weeks of recovery in between. The thought of staying for several months so far away from her home country and her loved ones bothers her. I grabbed her hand during our visit, however, and told her we are going to be there for her in every situation, and a ray of hope flitted over her face.

Moving forward to today, Dyako’s mother received the goods news Dyako’s first surgery is going to take place this Tuesday. She was relieved to hear the next step on their journey is taking place soon.

We lift them both up into our Father’s hand, because He is our Comforter and Healer. Pray with us for a smooth, first surgery for Dyako and a calm and confident heart for Dyako’s mum.

Out of Psalm 91: “The Lord will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”  

Continued Assessments for Dyako

Posted on Wed, 04/02/2014 - 22:30 by Ruth Zellweger

Because of his severe heart defect, Dyako has been hospitalized at Wolfson Hospital for the past two days. The doctors want to monitor him closely until his upcoming surgery, which we hope will be soon. 

Miriam and I had the chance to visit Dyako and his mother both yesterday and today. It is not hard to fall in love with this precious little boy, and his mother makes you feel welcomed right away. As we entered their room in the children’s ward early this morning, we heard Dyako would have a CT-scan of his head done today in order to determine whether or not he has received any brain damage due to lack of oxygen.

When it was time for the test, Dyako received anesthesia and soon fell asleep.

The CT-scan only took a few minutes and didn't reveal any brain damage.

Afterwards Dyako was monitored in a special room for about an hour before he returned to the ward. He was also seen by a neurologist later in the day. During most of our visiting time he was asleep, but in between he was wide awake and charming us with his beautiful smile. 

We pray for Dyako’s complete healing, as well as for his mother’s continued strength.

A Beautiful Life

Posted on Mon, 03/31/2014 - 22:58 by Rahel Eschler

Dyako and his mum crossed the border from Jordan to Israel yesterday late in the evening, one step closer to the medical help Dyako desperately needs. Along with her luggage, Dyako’s mum also brought a heart full of hope with her - hope her little baby gets a second chance to live.

After a short night at our Shevet base, we headed together to Wolfson Hospital in our sleek, white van. On the way there I spent some time getting to know this cute, little baby and his brave mother. Dyako’s mum is an open-minded, sweet woman with a caring heart for her little son. Her ability to speak some English, due to her being a teacher at school in Kurdistan, was helpful during our conversations. Dyako had an adorable look this morning with his tiny baseball cap on his head.

Underneath the brim, two beautiful, dark brown eyes glanced at me, and soon after he showed me his heart-melting smile.

But in between these precious moments, he cried a lot, his fingers and lips turning into blueberries.

With his defect of switched arteries, his heart is not able to pump oxygen-enriched blood to his body. It’s time for him to get this life-threatening condition repaired and once more gain the shiny, rosy skin a healthy baby should have.

Once we arrived at the cardiac children’s ward, the nurses and doctors moved with urgency due to Dyako’s low oxygen level (hovers around the low fifty’s) to perform his first assessments. Poor Dyako cried throughout the insertion of the IV line and the blood tests. Salty tears were running down his check, wetting my hand holding the oxygen mask close to his face. His mum didn’t leave his side and was strong for him. Afterwards, he calmed down in her embracing arms.

But Dyako didn’t have a lot of time to recover from these stressful examinations, as Dr. Alona soon welcomed him for a significant ultrasound of his heart, which would reveal the next steps of his treatment. It’s only possible to perform an echo on a calm child, however, and the doctor was experienced enough to know Dyako wouldn’t participate without crying. So Dyako was given a syringe full of orange syrup to put him to sleep. It seemed as if, however, his body tried to rebel against it, as shortly after taking the medicine he vomited on the floor. But his resistance was in vain, and one hour later he was sleeping deeply.

Dr. Alona was able to examine his heart thoroughly, and she confirmed the transposition of the great arteries. She hopes to do a two-step surgery over a time period of at least three months. The first step would be a shunt to increase his oxygen level and to strengthen his heart enough for the second surgery.

Due to Dyako’s poor health condition, we had to leave him at the hospital for further examinations like a brain CT scan and for additional fluids over the IV line. His mum almost left with us, as she knows the medical staff is going to take good care of her son and she trusts the other Kurdish mothers currently at the hospital. In fact, one of the older mothers has already put Dyako to sleep in her arms when his mum was getting tired holding him. It was beautiful to observe how the mothers already care for one another, having only known each other for a few hours. Coming from the same country and having children in similar circumstances is connecting.

Before we left Dyako behind at the hospital, he fell asleep in his small hospital bed while his mum softly stroked his hair.

This made me think about the comforting truth that God is watching over him and holding His protecting hand over him. We lift precious Dyako up to our Maker and Savior, as we can trust He knows what’s best for His little, fragile child. With comforted hearts we pray also for peace for Dyako’s mum and for strength and patience for the days to come.

The Arrival of Hope

Posted on Mon, 03/31/2014 - 00:22 by Kelsey Cannon

Dyako’s parents realized something was wrong with their sweet baby boy almost immediately after he was born. A visit to a local cardiologist in their native home of northern Iraq just nine days after his birth confirmed their fears about his shallowness of breath and bluish-tinged skin: Dyako was born with a complex congenital heart defect - Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA). 

As the name TGA would imply, those born with this defect have the two main arteries carrying blood out of their heart (the pulmonary artery and the aorta) transposed, or switched. This results in oxygen-poor blood being pumped to the rest of the body instead of the lungs, while oxygen-rich blood is pumped to the lungs instead of the rest of the body. Consequently, those with TGA are constantly in a life-threatening state of oxygen deprivation. And Dyako is no exception, as his blood oxygen saturation hovers around 65% (the normal range for someone without a heart defect is 95-100%), even after undergoing a palliative procedure at eleven days old to improve his blood-oxygen levels. 

Thankfully, help is on the way for Dyako. This sweet boy crossed the border into Israel tonight and will be on his way to Wolfson Hospital tomorrow for his initial assessments, with a surgery date to correct his heart defect to be set for a time in the near future.