Maia's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Still needs $5500
Help Maia

A Good Day

Posted on Thu, 02/15/2018 - 00:47 by Johanna Ebert

Alena, Maia's mum, Maia and I started our trip to Wolfson for her next echo today. Maia was in a pretty good mood and was laughing with Alena all the time during the drive.

Because Thursday is not the official echo day, the doctor was immediately available. Also the result from the echo seemed well, according to the doctor. It was so good for the mum to hear positive feedback, after the shock that Maia needs a pacemaker.

On our way back to the car, we crossed the shopping mall and we had few minutes for shopping, that was a pleasure for Maia's mum. A Good DayAt the end I guess it was a good day for all of us and we are very thankful for it.


Posted on Mon, 02/12/2018 - 01:30 by Noelle Chung

On the fourth day after the pacemaker insertion, Maia is very stable, although she does not have a good appetite. The pacemaker works well, and swellings of upper extremities and face also have decreased. So she was discharged today and came home with us. She is waiting for an echocardiogram follow-up and pacemaker check-up. 

She was excited to walk around in the hospital and to try different parts of the playground.

At home, she showed gladness to meet our volunteer team again. 

Maia Moved to the Children's Ward!

Posted on Sun, 02/11/2018 - 21:38 by
This morning we visited Maia at Wolfson hospital, where she is now in the children’s ward. She was moved from ICU yesterday and is making a slow but steady recovery. Although the doctors explained that her facial swelling in the morning is very normal following her procedure, they would like to keep her in the ward for another one to two days as she is still very weak and exhausted.
Mama Maia was very happy to see us, greeting us with a kiss on each cheek. We handed her some rice soup made by the ladies back at Shevet, and Maia managed to enjoy a decent amount which was good to see as her food options are limited on her current no-fat diet. 
All in all, seeing Maia manage a few smiles and even a cheeky giggle was very reassuring, and we pray that she’ll make a full recovery very soon Lord willing.
Written By: Liza Koens

Maia Gets a Pacemaker

Posted on Thu, 02/08/2018 - 16:24 by Alexa Bigl
Yesterday morning, our team went to visit Maia to find she had gone for an echocardiogram. They waited for the results of that and the 24-hour ECG while playing and eating with Maia. The results were mixed. The good news was the fluid around Maia's heart has decreased. But the cardiology team also diagnosed Maia with complete AV block. So, the electrical system of her heart is not firing correctly. This is the explanation behind Maia's extremely low heart rate. Upon reaching the diagnosis, Maia was brought to the ICU for close observation while the team decided on treatment options. 
In the end, it was decided Maia needed to have an internal pacemaker and defibrillator surgically inserted. We arrived to the hospital around 5:30 last night to be with Maia and her mom for the operation. Before being brought down to the operating theater, we had the opportunity to talk over with Maia's mom what was going on, what the plan was, and answer some questions she had. Maia was very tired and not looking so well as she was drifting in and out of sleep; her heart rate often dropping below 50bpm. Right before 6:30, Maia was ready to be wheeled down and a team of four medical personnel accompanied us down the elevators.
At the pre-op room, it was like a ghost town. After a while, some doctors and nurses started filing in and we signed consent forms with Maia's mom.
Maia regained some energy and was crying, but the team was soon ready to bring her in for sedation and intubation.
Once Maia was asleep, her mom came out and we headed back upstairs. 
After sitting in the mall area of the hospital and having a coffee, Maia's mom was stabilizing emotionally and we were able to talk more about the pacemaker. We had the time to go over educational materials about the pacemaker; what it does, how it works, things to avoid, short and long term follow-up care, etc. Maia's mom did a great job taking it all in and taking pictures and notes to ensure she would remember all the important points necessary for Maia to recover well and remain healthy and thriving. 
Two hours after Maia went in, we were able to meet her as she was wheeled back up to the ICU. Although still intubated and asleep, she was already looking much better.
And the heartbeat on the monitor screen showed 106bpm; perfect for Maia's age and size! It took the ICU about 45 minutes to have her set-up and allow Mom to go in and be with Maia. Her mom was teary as she stroked her daughter, but extremely relieved to hear Dr. Hagi satisfactorily say it went very well. She has the small device under her skin, hidden from sight and safe from the world, with the wires traveling down into her heart to stimulate the correct beating patterns. The pacemaker only gives electrical signals if Maia's physiological system does not give the correct ones. So, we are praying Maia's heart recovers from the electrical blockage and can start simulating the heart to beat correctly on its own. Then the pacemaker will have less and less work. We are hopeful and praying that in 5-7 years when the pacemaker would either need a battery replacement or even a complete device replacement, that Maia's heart's electrical system will be restored and the pacemaker can be removed completely! 
Today, Maia has been extubated and is being weaned from an oxygen mask now. We are praying God's hand to be present in getting Maia back on track for recovery. We pray for her mother to remain hopeful and strong. And we praise the Lord Maia's heart is beating at a normal pace and rhythm again; amen!

Maia's Second Echo

Posted on Mon, 02/05/2018 - 18:43 by Coby van Wijhe
Maia had her second echo this morning. The doctor from Kenya performed the echocardiogram. Although the Kenyan doctor was very gentle, Maia cried a lot during the echo. It was sad to see because it looked like she was in pain.
Mom felt also sad and cried to see her daughter in this uncomfortable situation. We had some concerns about Maia's healing process, so I discussed this with the doctor. Her heartbeat is very low for her age. She is not eating and drinking well and her face is still swollen. 
The doctor decided to admit Maia again. There is some fluid around her heart. They will start her on steroid medication and tomorrow they will do a 24-hour echocardiogram. This afternoon the pediatric surgeon will also visit her because of some complains about pain in her right arm. 
The cardiologist was not worried. She said that Maia had a difficult operation and that these symptoms are seen often, because the body needs time to adjust to the new situation. We brought Maia to the ward and while mom was gone to get some food, I tried to comfort Maia by watching some children's Kurdish songs on my phone. When I left Maia she felt much better and hopefully she will eat some food together with mom.
Please pray for Maia's heart. May our Lord give complete healing to her.

Admitted Again for Inflamation

Posted on Thu, 02/01/2018 - 20:35 by Coby van Wijhe
This morning when Maia woke up, her face was swollen badly. After consulting the medical staff, I took her with mom to the hospital. They checked her and did an echocardiogram. Thanks to God, her heart was okay. They noticed an inflammation in a neck vein and that's probably the reason for the swelling.
They wanted her to stay overnight and see how she is doing tomorrow. Maia was quiet and underwent the admission without much struggle. Mom was sad but was thankful that her heart was not the reason for the swelling. Let's pray that the inflammation will be healed soon.


Posted on Tue, 01/30/2018 - 23:37 by Alena D'Olimpio

Inshallah, an Arabic word that means 'If God wills', is one which is heard often here at Shevet. Last week, Maia's mother was repeating the word through tears as her daughter was wheeled into the surgery room. "Inshallah, Inshallah" was spoken through the hours of phoning family during the painful six hour wait, and it was even voiced by two hospital clowns that stopped by the ICU and saw Maia's mother crying.

Today, one week after Maia's heart surgery, Inshallah could be heard as we brought Maia and her mother back from the hospital. Instead of whispered through tears, it was spoken as a praise, that our Father had willed little Maia to receive life-saving surgery, and that He, in His infinite wisdom and grace, has guided her through her recovery so far.

When we saw Maia in the morning her hospital pajamas were complimented by a beautiful, furry pink vest with lace and buttons that her mother told us was from back home in Kurdistan. She was sitting up in bed, and when she saw us, she reached out her arms to be held. Before long she was smiling and giggling as we walked with her up and down the hallway. The sound of her laughter echoed through the children's ward.

In the coming weeks, there will be follow-up echoes to make sure her heart is working correctly, but today there was joy and praise. We got back to the house at lunch time, so all of the moms, dads, kids, and staff were able to share in the rejoicing of Maia's homecoming.  

Maia is in the Ward

Posted on Sun, 01/28/2018 - 23:36 by Coby van Wijhe
This morning when I visited Maia at Wolfson hospital, she was still in ICU. But she looked already much better. No oxygen, central line, or anything. I stayed some time with her and showed her some pictures. She didn't say much though. Mom was not in ICU, but later I saw Mom in the ward with other Arabic moms, talking.
This afternoon when I had to pickup a child to bring to Gaza, I saw that they had moved Maia to the ward! Mom was very happy with this good sign. Please continue praying for a good recovery. 

Maia Extubated

Posted on Fri, 01/26/2018 - 22:24 by Jesse Tilman
Maia was extubated in ICU this morning, meaning she was woken from her drug induced sleep. She's in much discomfort and moving around which does not help with all the tubes and wires tenderly attached to her. We comforted her mum, and translated many of her questions for the staff. She said they are looking at a second surgery after a few years. Right now we are focusing on her just recovering from this one. They hope to give her water by cup today and then see about food. We're hoping they won't have to put her to sleep again.
There's no other Kurds where she is right now, so please keep her mum in your prayers. She was able to come home and get some rest before when Maia was intubated (asleep), thankfully. May the Lord give her strength in this difficult time.

Maia's Operation Day

Posted on Wed, 01/24/2018 - 17:29 by Coby van Wijhe

Today Maia had her operation. Thanks to God! Alena and I went early this morning to the hospital. Maia was still asleep but her mom had not slept much last night.

We had to wait a little while before we could go to the pre-operation room.

While waiting, we played with Maia and showed her pictures. Maia was very peaceful and did not show much anxiety. Mom was emotional and crying when they took Maia to the operation room.

And then the long waiting starts... it's very hard for them. And the families back at home are worried, so they are staying in touch by phoning mom constantly. We went to the mall of the hospital for a cup of coffee and tried to make mom comfortable. After about seven hours, Maia came out of the operation room and the medical staff moved her to ICU.

What a release when you finally hear from the surgeon that the operation went well.

They moved the valves on the right side of the heart up and closed the hole. After the nurse settled Maia down in the ICU, we were able to see her some minutes before going home. The first 24 hours are critical because the heart and blood flow have to get used to the new situation. Please pray for a good recovery.