Kajeen's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Tears, Farewells, and God's Love

Posted on Sun, 10/02/2011 - 00:00 by madelyn

Kajeen's mother has been known to burst into tears on many occasions. As the whole Shevet family gathered today in the dining room upstairs, I remembered to myself how often we had gathered together before for other mothers and children leaving to go home. Kajeen's mother had been present at some of them, listening to us offering words of God's love and our love, presenting gifts, saying goodbye, and now it was her turn. She slowly approached her chair, and sat down already in tears as she knew what we planned to do. After cake, tea, and some music, Jonathan (fellow Shevet member) looked around and asked who would like to begin offering words of love to Kajeen and her mother.

Overcome with love for this little woman, and her sweet daughter, I heard myself begin to say to her "horsh me'we, zor zor" (I love you very much). But before I could even finish a thought, her crying intensified, and she ran over to me and hugged me and kissed me. Kajeen's mother is filled with so much love and gratitude she can't keep it inside in the slightest.

Kajeen and her mother are the type of duo that bring light and love to a room. Kajeen's mother exemplifies the statement that she loved much and was much loved. And as we try to show love to others, we cannot do it purely without remembering that we have love because someone loved us first.

Whether we have Down syndrome, broken hearts, whether we cry a lot or keep it inside, whether we only speak Kurdish or English--God first loved us.

With a healthy heart, and with (we hope) transformed lives, Kajeen and her mother will return to their home in northern Iraq tomorrow. Below is a video of Kajeen and her mother opening the gifts we gave them at their party. Be sure to watch until the end, because Kajeen's reaction and demeanor as she receives the bear (and all the attention) demonstrates what kind of life and love they brought to our family while they were here.

It is always bittersweet to say goodbye to the families. We don't want them to leave us, but we also know their own families have missed them greatly. As we fight back tears of our own, we pray for God's continued protection of them in their travels, and in the years of growth to come.

Kajeen Sees the Sea for the First Time

Posted on Fri, 09/23/2011 - 08:45 by Agnes_Wiggers

Today was a very special day for Kajeen and her mother. They went to see the sea for the very first time in their lives! But first a quick trip to the hospital to check some redness in her surgery scar, which luckily appeared to be quite normal. Kajeen is such a special treasure, she took it all in her stride and made everyone who saw her smile. She insisted on holding Roza a few times very carefully (don't worry, she was very well supervised!) which made for gorgeous pictures of the two.

Soon we were off to the sea. On the way the mothers told Stephanie that they'd been to see a sea once before in Iraq - we were a bit baffled until we worked out that it was a small lake - and that that had been a bit of a rubbish experience. You should have seen their faces when they saw the beach and the real sea: Priceless!! Kajeen especially loved it. After some cautious steps and quick retreats she sat down in the sea and decided she liked it. She kicked her legs and smiled and smiled. So gorgeous!! It's such a privilege to enjoy simple pleasures with her; she got herself wet all over and chuckled away. The only thing she did not like was the sea water in her face and eyes. Her mum did not realise that sea water is salty, so splashing her was maybe not the best idea. The things we have to remember to explain which we take for granted!

Today was the most fun I've had in the whole time I was here. I think I was more blessed while coming on a trip to bless Kajeen and her mother than they were, and I've made firm friends with Kajeen.


A Clean and Pure Heart

Posted on Mon, 09/19/2011 - 00:00 by Lydia Standridge
Today I went with Donna (fellow Shevet member), Kajeen, and her mother to the Wolfson hospital for her echocardiogram. She was all smiles, and blew kisses like a beauty queen to everyone who passed by. She seemed worried about the possibility of a shot in the beginning of the checkup, but soon found courage and I was very impressed with her.
Throughout the day, I found that Kajeen likes car rides, and loves elevators. I also found that I love making Kajeen smile, and it doesn

Home from the Hospital

Posted on Mon, 09/12/2011 - 00:00 by Jeff Sheehan

There are times in life when the sheer joy of an occasion lifts you up and makes you feel special. This was my experience when I brought Kajeen and her mother home to Shevet. Kajeen is a special 4-year-old girl with Down Syndrome who had open heart surgery on the 6th of September for the repair of a partial AV Canal defect. This involved applying a patch over a hole in the atrial septum and repairing a defect in the mitral valve in the left ventricle. Praise the Lord, the operation was without any complications. She came home today on no medications. This is a really good sign! It indicates that, from a cardiac point of view, she is now well.

An echocardiogram on Monday the 19th is a precautionary one to rule out any fluid around the heart. Her time at home with us before she leaves for Iraq will be spent on managing her Downs Syndrome with gentle physical excercises and mental stimulation to improve her coordination and physical well being. Kajeen's mother will also play a part in these activities, so that she can continue to help her daughter at home in Iraq. Neurologically, her report is that she is well developed after she had a normal neurological examination. So there is no reason why Kajeen can't be a useful and valued member of her family and society.

On a personal note, my opening remarks need some explanation. This little girl has endeared herself to us all. She has a ready, and open smile, and quaint little mannerisms that tug at your heart strings. The phrase "little girls are made of sugar and spice and all things nice," suits her perfectly. So you can understand why it was such a happy occasion for me personally. Thank you Lord, for bringing this girl into our midst, for making her well, and blessing our lives.

Out of the ICU with Smiles

Posted on Sun, 09/11/2011 - 00:00 by Gail Buchanan

Happiness is a little girl with a yellow teddy bear full of life and smiles.  This was my first opportunity to see Kajeen since her operation, and she had just been moved out of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and into the Pediatric Ward. She was sitting up on top of her bed all smiles and laughter. Um Kajeen greeted us (Joshua, Yosef and I) with hugs and smiles. It was so lovely to see her relaxed and happy again.

Joshua and Yosef had other business to attend to, so for the next little while Kajeen and I entertained each other with her game of "catch the yellow teddy bear." Poor teddy was thrown with great glee--on the floor, in the air, wherever she thought I couldn't catch it.  Then the game changed to "hide the teddy bear." Like all small children, she was happy to play the same thing over and over again. The fact that neither of us understand the other's language was no problem to a small girl's fun. It was lovely to see her so mobile! I think if she had been allowed she would have been off the bed and running around the room!

Apart from a slight fever, Kajeen's medical report is very good. Now in the childrens' ward, she is off all medication, has had all of her tubes removed, and the heart is clear with no fluid surrounding.

All being well it should not be too long before she can come home to the Shevet House. A great reason to be happy!



A Quiet, Peaceful Recovery

Posted on Fri, 09/09/2011 - 00:00 by Jeff Sheehan

Kajeen had corrective heart surgery for a large Atrial Septal Defect, which caused an excess of oxygenated blood  to flow back through the lungs, when it should have been been directed to the major organs of the body. It placed more stress on the right side of the heart & lungs, making this part of the anatomy work much harder. Praise the Lord, her operation was successful and has provided Kajeen with an even distribution of oxygen & nutrients with optimal nourishment for growth, development and well being.

The next couple days, were days of progress. She had her first echo and was given a good report. After ensuring that her breathing was regular, and her oxygenation stable, she was disconnected from the ventilator and her breathing tube was removed. She was then on oxygen via a mask. Kajeen was connected to a monitor, which gave a detailed reading of her vital statistics. A temporary pacemaker provided backup, in the event of disturbances to heart rate or rhythm. Two drain tubes are still in place draining primary hemorrhage. 

Um Kajeen is enthralled in all that has taken place. Yesterday was filled with feelings of sadness, concern and longing to see her daughter. Now that the surgery is over, she is full of smiles and thankfulness with tears of joy to God for her daughter's progress. She is a small, simple woman from a rural part of Kurdistan in northern Iraq, taking in all the sights and sounds of a big city. And also in the midst of dealing with all the high-tech gear that is part and parcel of a busy Intensive Care Unit. It is understandable why her emotions have been so extreme with such an overwhelming change of environment.

Yesterday, we visited Kajeen again, and found her sleeping peacefully. All but her drainage tube had been removed, and the doctors said they were hoping to take that out as well in the morning. Um Kajeen couldn't stop smiling, and had a tender moment with her daughter, softly petting her sweet head. We are thankful to God for carrying her through so gently and smoothly. Our prayer now is for an easy recovery, and to bring her back to the Shevet house soon.

God's Miracles Surpass Language Barriers

Posted on Tue, 09/06/2011 - 00:00 by Stephanie Ventura

Today was the day for which Kajeen

Relief and Anxiety Mix for Impending Surgery

Posted on Mon, 09/05/2011 - 00:00 by Donna_West

"Mixed emotions" was the theme today as Kajeen's mother packed her suitcase to go to the hospital with Kajeen. The Shevet household gathered in the courtyard to pray for Kajeen and her mother as they embraced the invitation for surgery tomorrow.  All were united in one mind and one hope for a good outcome from a merciful God. There were no barriers as the love and concern each one had for the other flowed along a river of tears. In regards to Um Kajeen, I heard someone ask, "Why is she crying?" The release of tension and gratefulness after the long wait, watching all the other mothers return with a healed child, and the fear and dread of knowing what she will watch her daughter endure is quite an overwhelming mix of emotions.
When we reached the hospital, Kajeen became fussy and unsettled as soon as she saw the nurses' station. Even application of the numbing cream on her hands caused her extreme agitation. She cried all through her mother removing the nail polish from her fingers and toes. But when it came time for the drawing of blood (what we expected to be the biggest problem) something had changed. A calm filled the room and it was over.
As her own fashions were exchanged for hospital pj's, Kajeen settled in and was smiling and blowing kisses once again.  Lord we are so grateful for your kindness to the children of men, especially Kajeen and her mother today.

Celebrating Kajeen's Fourth Birthday Together

Posted on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 00:00 by Stephanie Ventura

This week we had the privilege of celebrating little Kajeen

The Hospital Brings Out Kajeen's Curiosity

Posted on Tue, 07/19/2011 - 00:08 by Alyse Flack

For Kajeen