Marya's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Marya Meets Wolfson

Posted on Tue, 07/23/2013 - 01:11 by Kristina Kayser

Less than twenty-four hours after arriving in Israel, Marya and her mother were escorted to Wolfson Hospital for her first introduction to Israeli medical care. After a long car ride down the mountain from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, this feisty toddler was in surprisingly good spirits. Bubbles and a rubber duck had come to the rescue to help keep Marya happy, and we hoped this would continue. An hour had passed before the nurses beckoned Marya to the children's department for her first set of exams. An EKG, chest X-ray, echocardiogram, vital signs, and a blood test were all on the agenda for today.

I had been informed earlier last night that Marya was taken to the hospital at least twice a month in Kurdistan for oxygen treatment after extended episodes of crying. Although she had experienced trouble catching her breath, this little girl had never lost consciousness from a cyanotic spell...until today. Our new nurse, Sonia, from Switzerland was with Marya while the doctor attempted to draw blood and start an IV. According to Sonia, after several attempts were made to find a vein, Marya had worked herself up into a crying frenzy and turned extremely blue. Her oxygen saturation took a dramatic plunge, reaching 11% even with an oxygen mask. This led to a cyanotic spell, during which Marya lost consciousness for several minutes. Doctors rushed her to secondary ICU and began administering the medication she needed to be revived. Meanwhile, her mother was in state of panic, understandably so. When asked about this episode later, Marya's mother said this was the first time anything of this sort had happened to her daughter.

Terrifying as this cyanotic spell was, the good news is that Marya responded quickly and was soon stable enough to receive an echo exam. The good news continued with the prognosis that her heart is an excellent candidate for a beautiful repair of Tetralogy of Fallot. Dr. Alona is confident that Marya will have an exceptional surgery. Even so, the medical team advised that she and her mother spend the night at Wolfson in order to observe her oxygen status until the morning. If no further cyanotic spells occur, Marya will be able to return to Jerusalem tomorrow.

Please keep Marya and her mother in your prayers as they continue on this often precarious journey towards a new heart. I praise God tonight for His faithful and loving care towards Marya and for His protection over her life at every moment. "For in Him, we live, and move, and have our being." Acts 17:28

Marya Makes Her Debut

Posted on Sun, 07/21/2013 - 23:15 by MadelynMiles

Marya made her debut in Israel after a long journey. After picking them up at the airport on Saturday, and driving to Israel the next morning, we were all happy but exhausted when we finally arrived at our base in Jerusalem. Our driving trip from Amman, Jordan to Jerusalem took seven hours instead of the usual five. In addition to this extra travel time, I found myself the only translator through a slew of extra and unusual security checks at the border. However, Marya's mother was very gracious and understanding through all of it, and Marya was downright oblivious and happy. It is hard not to melt at how cute she it. She happily sat in her car seat (which can sometimes be a struggle for children) and cooed whenever her mother spoke baby-talk to her.

Both are happily adjusting to their new homes in Jerusalem. Marya's mother asked right away about the hospital and was pleased to hear that their initial exams at the hospital will be tomorrow. When I asked Marya's mother how she first knew there was something wrong with Marya's heart, she told me she noticed right away that Marya had blue fingertips. She said this with great sighing and sadness, and I can tell her love for her daughter has no bounds. I believe she will be a solid foundation for her little one on their journey through heart surgery in Israel. Please pray for their first hospital visit and Marya's upcoming surgery.

On the Way

Posted on Thu, 07/04/2013 - 09:49 by Kelsey Cannon

Normal oxygen saturation levels in the blood of a healthy child or adult can range anywhere between 95-100%. Sadly, this is not the case for nine-month-old Marya. As her oxygen saturation of 66% would indicate, she is not healthy. The reason? She is the unfortunate possessor of a rare congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), which affects about 5 out of every 10,000 children born. TOF is characterized by a quartet of heart defects, working in an ominous symphony to ensure that not enough blood is able to reach the lungs for oxygenation while oxygen poor blood courses through the body.

For over thirty years, surgical techniques have been available to help those with TOF live normal, full lives. But for Marya, these techniques are still relatively unavailable in her home country of Iraq. Because of this, Marya’s parents made the decision to seek treatment for their only child in the hospitals of Israel. We hope to have Marya here with us to start her journey down the road to health later this month.