Maryam's Heart Surgery


A Merry Heart Does Good Like Medicine

Posted on Mon, 04/06/2015 - 22:14 by Kristina Kayser

Three weeks have almost passed since Maryam's extraordinary surgery day, and I hadn't been able to see Maryam and her mother since. Hearing reports of her progress encouraged me so much, but I couldn't wait to see her with my own eyes. Judith and I went together to Hadassah Hospital today and were delighted to find Maryam out of ICU and in the children's surgical department. Maryam looked very well indeed.

She took a few minutes to warm up to us, but it wasn't long before our songs and games made her smile and even laugh. Oh, the laughter! It was so beautiful and adorable at the same time. When something struck her as funny, a little chuckle turned into a laugh that came from deep inside of her.

This, in turn, made Maryam's mother, Judith, and I laugh really hard too. At one point, Maryam's mother said that today was the first day her daughter has been this happy since her surgery. Truly, "a merry heart does good like medicine" (Proverbs 17:22). Grumpy moments for Maryam still came and went today, but it was clear to see her mother's sincere gratitude and relief for her daughter's joy and healing.

Being moved out of ICU yesterday is an excellent indication that Maryam is on the right track for her recovery. Due to fluctuating oxygen levels, she is still receiving an oxygen vapor supplement, which doctors hope to see weaned in the coming days. Her sleeping and appetite are in need of improvement, but her mother stated that every echo exam so far has yielded positive reports.

What an amazing God we serve! It hasn't been so long since doctors were uncertain if Maryam was even operable. And here she is now, thriving on the other side of her surgery and soon to rejoin our community on Prophet's Street. Please rejoice with us in this miracle that continues to unfold. 

Smiling and Giggling

Posted on Thu, 04/02/2015 - 23:42 by Judith Schmidt

When I arrived at the hospital, I found Maryam with a nurse. She was training Maryam's muscles (i.e. doing physiotherapy) in order to increase Maryam's heart rate and wake up her muscles after the long time of just laying down. 

It was the first time I saw Maryam really awake after the surgery. She immediately smiled at me, still a little sleepy, but her spirit is coming back. We sat down for a little while, singing together. I was curious if she would remember the things we used to sing and do before she had her surgery. To my surprise, she did. She started clapping, bouncing, smiling, and giggling as we began to sing the songs.

The day kept on bringing wonderful news for Maryam and her mother as Murad came in and told them that the doctors are really satisfied with Maryam's progress. They want to transfer her to the children's ward this afternoon or tomorrow. The nurses in the ICU let us celebrate this good news with a first walk outside of the ICU with Maryam since her surgery. They said we should take it slow, but that it is time for Maryam to move around again. I am looking forward to next week, to seeing Maryam in the children's ward, and to hopefully seeing her soon in our house again.

Shway Shway

Posted on Sun, 03/29/2015 - 21:34 by Judith Schmidt

We went to the hospital today with a dull feeling, not knowing what to expect. For the past days, all the doctors and nurses have been telling us to be patient because Maryam needed time to regain strength before they would be able to try to extubate her again. 

When we arrived, we found Maryam's mom in her room at the hospital. We were quite joyously excited as we listened to her telling us that little Maryam had been extubated one hour before we arrived. She told us the news with sparkling eyes and a big smile on her face. We could not believe what we just heard, so we made our way to the ICU to check. And there she was, beautiful, peacefully sleeping, and extubated. 

As we stood there, wide-eyed, rejoicing with her mother, two doctors came in to check on her. We could hear the Hebrew words "Yofi" (Beautiful) and "Metzuyan" (Excellent) several times. The doctors were very satisfied with Maryam's condition, and so were we. 

They did not only extubate her, but also started to ween her off of sedatives. With that, the slow process of waking up Maryam (who's nickname is “Mimi”) began.

Maryam's mother told us that Maryam had her eyes open yesterday! What progress! What a good God we have! Still the doctors told us that we have to be patient (“shway, shway” - slowly, slowly) and wait till Maryam is fully awake. 

Her mother told us that she felt really relieved after the successful extubation. She finally could breathe freely. It was good to see her filled with new hope and strength, with a smile on her face that would not leave. We could not do anything but stand in awe of the One who made it all, who had kept Maryam safe all this time, guarding her in His loving arms. And so we sat down and praised the God who has been faithful to Maryam and her mother all along the way, praying that He would make His name known through Maryam's precious life. 

Progressing Again

Posted on Wed, 03/25/2015 - 12:04 by Camilla Madsen

Yesterday Cami and I went to visit Maryam and her mother at the hospital. When we arrived to the hospital in the early afternoon, we were very excited to see how Maryam was doing. We went into the ICU with a smile on our faces; after yesterday’s visit where Maryam’s condition seemed stable and progressing. Unfortunately, this progress has stopped. When we entered Maryam’s room, we were met by a tense atmosphere and a look from Maryam’s mother, which told us that something was not as it should be.

This morning the doctors decided to extubate her, but when they started the procedure Maryam’s blood pressure got really low because of a pulmonary hypertension crisis. Her condition was very critical, and because of that the doctors decided to cancel the extubation and let her remain intubate.

Of course, this situation is hard for Maryam’s mother, who is all by her self at the hospital. We went outside the ICU to talk a bit more and hold her hands. She is a very brave lady, but today her mood was affected by the whole situation. Her eyes were sad and she was very worried for her beautiful daughter. This was a great opportunity for Cami and I to pray for both Maryam and her mother. After praying together we went back into the ICU, here we spoke to a wonderful nurse who gave Maryam’s mother and us an update on the situation. After the doctors reintubated Maryam, her blood pressure went back to normal, which means that she now is stable again. The nurse told us that the doctors will wait a few more days before exubating her because of her pulmonary hypertension. The fact that Maryam’s condition is stable made her mother calm down, and when we left the hospital both Maryam and her mother were in very good hands.

Join us in praying for Maryam and her mother. Pray for wisdom for the doctors and strength to both Maryam and her mother.

An Afternoon With Friends

Posted on Sun, 03/22/2015 - 23:21 by Ruth Zellweger

Our Shevet community and friends all over the world were praying fervently for our little Maryam, who underwent a very complicated open heart surgery this past Thursday. And we all rejoiced when we received the news that the surgery had been successful and Maryam was stable in the ICU. 

I was excited for the opportunity to visit Maryam and her mother today. Judith and I arrived at Hadassah Hospital in the early afternoon. We were curious in what state we would find Maryam. Was she already extubated? When we peeked into her room, her mother greeted us warmly. We exchanged hugs and kisses and then went to Maryam's bedside. She was still fully sedated and on the mechanical ventilation. Her mother told us that the doctors had wanted to extubate her, but because of pulmonary hypertension, they will have to wean her off slowly. 

Maryam's mother was glad for our company. After we had prayed over Maryam, entrusting her into our heavenly Father's hands, we left the ICU to get some coffee and fresh air. It was quite windy; nevertheless, we stayed outside for a while, enjoying the sun and blue sky. Even though Judith and I do not speak Arabic and Maryam's mother doesn't speak English, we can communicate in a simple way. Over the past weeks, we experienced together highs and lows, which resulted in a strong friendship, which is very obvious between Judith and Maryam's mother.

We praise God for what He has done in Maryam's life. To Him be all the glory.  

Maryam's Successful Surgery

Posted on Thu, 03/19/2015 - 00:34 by Judith Schmidt

Today was a big day for little Maryam and a big day for us. She was scheduled to have a open heart surgery. Her's was the first open heart surgery for a child of Shevet Achim at the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem and the first Iraqi Christian refugee being treated. She arrived the same day as I did at Shevet Achim, and her surgery is the first surgery day I've been able to be a part of.

The surgeons were sure that this was going to be a long surgery because they had to fix several things and wanted to insert a pacemaker also. When Kristina and I arrived in the ICU, we found that Maryam and her mother in their room, ready to go to the OR. The nurse who would guide us to the OR area was not ready, so we spent the time having fun with Maryam and her mother. By doing fun things, we tried to help them calm down because Maryam's mother seemed very stressed.

As we went to the surgery wing, Maryam was her playful self, babbling and making funny noises. Her mother's expressions, on the other hand, were very serious. All the nurses were very nice and explained how the day would look. We were very surprised and pleased when they told us that they would call as soon as they started the surgery, when they got halfway through, and when they were about to finish. 

After taking Maryam and her mother to the OR and letting her stay there till Maryam was asleep, they sent us to the waiting area. It was really heartbreaking to see her mother burst into tears as soon as she sat down, leaving her precious child in the hands of strangers, not knowing what the result was going to look like. It was such a blessing to be able to pray with her.

We were surprised when Kristina's phone rang, and they told us that the surgery just started. They had kept their word. We received calls about every two hours, letting us know everything was stable. Furthermore, in between there was a doctor coming out telling us the news, making sure that we knew that only the best surgeons are gathered around Maryam. That was the first time I heard the word “elhumdulillah” (“praise God” in Arabic) that day, not knowing that this was going to be the word of the day.

God had many more blessings in store for Maryam's mother. The next blessing we received was two mothers, who Maryam's mom had met at the children's ward, coming by to see how things are going, encouraging Maryam's mother and talking to her. Morad (the pediatric medical translator, who helped us several times before) checked on us every now and then and bought us coffee. We tried to spend the time by sitting, waiting, reading the bible, talking, praying, and walking, but the time went by very slowly.

At the end of the open heart surgery Dr. Ryan came out, with a smiling face, full of energy, explaining that the surgery went really well, that they are happy that they could do a full repair, and they are about to install a pacemaker. It was great to see the eyes of Maryam's mother starting to shine as she listened to the surgeon. She started bouncing for joy. After almost every sentence the surgeon said, we could hear the word “elhumdulillah” leaving her mouth.

After Dr. Ryan left, telling us that they had already closed Maryam's chest and that it would only take one more hour, we spent another two and a half hours waiting and hoping to see Maryam soon. As Maryam's mother was about to lose hope that she would see her little girl soon, we were called in, and a doctor explained that we had to wait another 15 minutes because they were trying to control some bleeding (which was normal, according to the doctor). 

Finally, we heard the surgeons walking down the hallway, bringing our precious Maryam. Her mother was excited, but they kept on rolling past us, bringing Maryam back to the ICU to monitor her and do some tests. It took almost another hour before her mother was allowed to go in the ICU to see her. 

When her mother came out of the ICU, she looked really tired and exhausted, and she was. We met Dr. Erez (the operating surgeon) in front of the ICU, and he explained to us that Maryam had a successful surgery, but the next 48 hours are still critical. He told us that Maryam has developed pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in her lungs because she didn't have a surgery as a newborn), and this is what she is struggling with the most right now. He said we have to give her time to heal. Once again, I heard “elhumdulillah!”

We ended our day by praying and singing a praise song in Arabic together. What a blessing. What a good God! Elhumdulillah!

As we ended our prayers, one of the mothers from this morning stopped by and talked with Maryam's mother. What a blessing it is to have friends at the Hospital caring for you. Elhumdulillah!

In The Shadow Of His Wings

Posted on Sun, 03/15/2015 - 22:43 by Kristina Kayser

It has been several days since I last visited Maryam and her mother. And to my knowledge, they were still in room twelve of Hadassah's pediatric department waiting for the surgeon to return to Israel. Upon arrival, I was a bit confused to find her bed space for the last two weeks empty! "Where is Maryam?" I immediately asked the nurse. She told me that Maryam was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), but didn't know why. I hurried upstairs, concerned about what I would find. My worries were vanquished, however, when I was happily greeted by a bright and playful Maryam and her calm mother. The ICU typically lives up to its name, maintaining an intense atmosphere. But Maryam's room was quite the opposite. My little friend lit up when she saw me and began talking up a storm in her own baby jabber. What a gift it was to see her and her mother the most cheerful I've seen them in the last couple of weeks.

Her mother then told me Maryam was moved to the ICU only this morning because of a low heart rate, but that she had since improved. She also said that Maryam's cough had completely cleared up and that she no longer needed oxygen supplement. The best news she shared was that Maryam's surgery could be this Wednesday! 

A doctor then entered the room and explained that Maryam's heart rate had decreased to a dangerous low of 30 beats per minute last night, indicating the need to be monitored in ICU. Following that incident, her heart rate has remained between 50 to 100 beats per minute. He also confirmed that Maryam's operation is tentatively set for Wednesday, with the plan to repair her heart defect and insert a permanent pacemaker. The pacemaker is now deemed necessary because Maryam's heart has not returned to a normal rhythm since her catheterization. 

Maryam's mother is relieved that her daughter's surgery is on the near horizon, but she is a bit apprehensive as well. She loves her baby girl so much, and she wants nothing more than for Maryam to be healed. Today, I witnessed God's grace being poured out on this mother and daughter. They may have been in the Intensive Care Unit facing a life-threatening heart defect, but the Lord's joy was present in both of them. It was just like the psalmist wrote, "Because You have been my help;

Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice." As we intercede for Maryam and her mother, may we also take comfort in this truth!

In the Wonder of His Love

Posted on Sun, 03/08/2015 - 21:38 by Judith Schmidt

Rebekah and I went to the Hadassah Hospital to check on Maryam and her mother today. When we arrived, Maryam was half asleep with her heartbeat and oxygen level monitored. Furthermore, she had an oxygen tube near her mouth to increase her oxygen level. The doctors hoped that her irregular heart rhythm, following the catheterization, would only last for a couple of days. Contrary to their expectations, Maryam's heart has not seemed to find its rhythm again. But, thank God, Maryam is stable. 

Rebekah went to speak with a doctor to get more information. We listened to what he had to say with curiosity and great hope. He told us that the surgeon is in the United States, but as soon as he returns to Israel next week, they are going to schedule Maryam's surgery. We then met the translator from the hospital who had helped us several times before. He told us that Maryam's surgery has first priority. I want to trust in the Lord that He will provide Maryam and her mother with everything they need, knowing that Maryam always has first priority in God's eyes. 

There is a song that was stuck in my head the whole day. It is a song by Hillsong called “Gracious Tempest” (click here to listen). Just like it says in the song, my prayer for Maryam and her mother is that they would feel God's love crashing over them, surging like a raging sea, and be immersed in the wonder of His love.

Under the Shadow of His Wings

Posted on Wed, 03/04/2015 - 21:45 by Ruth Zellweger

Our whole Shevet community rejoiced when we found out a few days ago that the doctors at Hadassah Hospital considered Maryam operable. It was a huge answer to prayer. We expected her to be discharged to our house yesterday, or latest, by today but that didn't happen. So I went to visit Maryam today at the hospital. When I entered her hospital room, her mother started crying. She looked tired and worried. After the catheterization Maryam's heartbeat had become irregular and during the night had dropped quite low several times. During my visit we had the chance to talk to two doctors who gave us an update on Maryam's conditon. One of them explained it in Arabic to Maryam's mother, the other one in English to me. As a side effect of the catheterization, Maryam developed an AV block, an impairment of the conduction between the atria and the ventricles of the heart. The doctors hope that it will resolve by itself with time, but until then she needs to be closely monitored and will not be discharged. Her mother handled this news with grace; she only wants the best for her daughter.

Before I left, we prayed together, entrusting her life once more into God's hands. Thank you for faithfully interceding for this precious girl and her mother.

"He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection." Psalm 91:4

Hopeful Results

Posted on Mon, 03/02/2015 - 22:02 by Jesse Tilman

Thank God, Maryam had her catheterization (cath) today with a good report! We found her sleeping on her mother's outstretched legs this morning and spent some time seeing how they had spent their night.

Just a half-hour before the scheduled time for her cath, the nurses came and took Maryam to the cath lab. We met with Dr. Shelly and committed Maryam to his hands with a prayer and a photo.

In the waiting room, we met up with some old and new friends and got to know each other's cases. Saeed, a man we had met yesterday, cheered everyone with his wit and good humor. Later, we went walking with him, and he bought us some coffee. Back in the room, we heard from the hospital staff now and then that things were going well. Soon, they started saying that it would be just a little while longer, but the time stretched on, and we were anxiously watching for a sign of progress. The hospital worker who had helped with translation, Morad, called in to see how things were going. Eventually, a children's hospital bed was wheeled into the cath lab, and we knew it was close to the end of the procedure.

When Maryam did come out, we were ready with cameras out and our stuff packed. This hospital has the children go into a peripheral area of the cath lab at first, instead of taking them to another ward right away. There, we met with Dr. Shelly again, and he told us that he is satisfied enough with their findings in the cath to put in Maryam's application for surgery at the weekly doctors meeting. If she is approved the board of doctors, she will be scheduled and placed on their surgery list. He is concerned about her continuing respiratory infection and wants it to clear up before the surgery though. This, he said, is only a matter of time, as her body fights the virus.

We left soon afterward. The doctor said Maryam would be moved back to the children's ward in an hour or so. God bless our first child at Hadassah En Kerem Hospital!