Maryam's Heart Surgery


Admitted for Cath

Posted on Sun, 03/01/2015 - 23:08 by Judith Schmidt

Jesse and I went to admit Maryam to the Hadassah Hospital for a catheterization (cath) tomorrow. We felt that the hospital tried hard to help us, but because of language barriers and because we are new at the hospital, we didn't have a smooth start. We had to find out how things work at Hadassah Hospital.  Therefore, our day at the hospital was like a roller-coaster ride. There would be little signs of hope and light, and soon after, there would be frustration. Likewise, Maryam's mood went up and down. She could go from cheering and playing and laughing to crying and complaining in a second. Her mother was brave and showed so much patience, never getting tired of cheering her up and giving her what she needed.

 It felt like we were going back and forth the whole day, waiting for Maryam to be examined by Doctor Rafas. We were called to the examination room three times. But because there was no translator around, we were dismissed two times without Maryam being examined. Every time we called Murat, a translator from the hospital, but the doctors would not wait and said they would come again later with Murat. We spent the waiting time in the family room. We tried to bond with Maryam and her mother; we played, laughed, did some walking exercise, and learned some Arabic.

Maryam is a really open and curious little soul. When somebody went by or she heard a noise, she would listen carefully and take a good look at what was going on. During our waiting time, when Maryam was sleeping, a Nurse came in to check her blood pressure, oxygen level, and temperature.

Later, Maryam could finally be examined and have blood drawn. It was really difficult to find a blood vessel to take a blood sample. Maryam had a really hard time and cried many tears. So did her mother as she watched her precious little girl, crying and fighting against the hands of the nurses holding her down. We tried to comfort both as much as we could. After they had finished, all Maryam wanted to do was jump in her mother's arms. She would not allow her mother to leave her. You could see how exhausting the procedure of drawing blood must have been for her.

Her eyes were really small and sleepy. Her Mother was almost as exhausted as her little one, her eyes full of worry and anxiety. But thank God, the doctors sounded confident that Maryam would have her cath tomorrow.

Walking by Faith

Posted on Mon, 02/23/2015 - 22:58 by Kristina Kayser

When faced with unexpected challenges, we are often met with the decision of whether to trust in our own understanding of the circumstances or to trust God and respond in faith. How should our community respond, for example, to delays in a child's heart treatment and the burden this brings? Throughout my life, I continue to learn that there is no greater response than to surrender the unknown to the God who knows all things. And today, we were given yet another opportunity to do so. 

Maryam was scheduled to have a very defining diagnostic procedure performed today--a catheterization that could determine whether or not she is operable. But due to an ongoing respiratory virus, this procedure was cancelled. Maryam's mother was downcast when Ruth, Rebecca, and I arrived at the hospital to take her and her daughter home with us.

Answers to looming questions regarding her daughter's prognosis seemed to slip out of reach -- if only for a time. 

Even if there was no language barrier between us, I suppose words would still fail in an attempt to comfort. But still, we cling to hope and trust that God is faithful and moving on Maryam's behalf. The cardiology team is planning to reschedule her catheterization as soon as her cough clears up. Please pray for the Lord's healing in Maryam from this virus and for Him to do great miracles in her heart!  

Maryam Admitted for Catheterization

Posted on Sun, 02/22/2015 - 23:14 by Kristina Kayser

Traces of snow could still be seen on Jerusalem's hillsides as our Shevet team drove Maryam and her mother to Hadassah Hospital this morning. Over the weekend, Maryam had developed a congested cough, and I was thankful she would be examined by doctors today. Her mother did her best to keep her calm and comfortable. Maryam found special security in her mother's love and continued to do so throughout the day. 

Upon arrival, we proceeded through the admission process in preparation for Maryam's catheterization tomorrow. Following her last visit, the cardiology team decided they needed additional diagnostic information before even considering surgery. Today would prove to be a long day of tests and assessments, but it would also prove to be a day full of God's grace. 

Maryam's health history was then documented, which included the story of her family's escape from ISIS and how this delayed her heart treatment. The medical staff were quite moved by this account. The medical translator, in particular, made special efforts to make Maryam and her mother feel welcome and comfortable in the pediatric ward. 

Moving on to physical exams, Maryam received a chest X-ray followed by an EKG (electrokardiogram), and weight check. She cried and resisted through each one, more from fear than from pain. The most difficult test was, of course, the blood draw and IV start. Both mother and daughter cried their way through it -- the former out of empathy for her daughter's pain; the latter, from an unpleasant needle poke. 

The two found consolation in each other's embrace when the day was over. Sweet Maryam clung to her mother, while being rocked gently to sleep. When I asked her mother how she felt about her daughter's cath tomorrow, tears welled up in her eyes again.

"I'm afraid," she replied.

This brave mother understands that doctors are unsure if Maryam is operable or not, which is a heavy burden for her to bear. Taking her hands in mine, we prayed for the peace of Messiah to come and rest in her heart. For He alone can take our fears and carry our burdens. Please pray for wisdom and discernment for the doctors tomorrow as they examine Maryam's heart. We trust that nothing is too difficult for the Lord!   

Maryam's Groundbreaking Debut at Hadassah

Posted on Mon, 02/16/2015 - 20:15 by Kristina Kayser

Darling Maryam was a cheerful baby this morning as our team headed towards Hadassah Hospital on the mountainous outskirts of Jerusalem. Her mother marveled at the beauty of this city and its surrounding forests, as did King David when he penned these words in Psalm 48: "How beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King."

Today was special--groundbreaking, in fact--because Maryam is the first heart patient in Shevet Achim's twenty year existence to be treated at Hadassah! Furthermore, she and her mother are the first Christian refugees from Iraq that we are privileged to serve in Israel. Praise the Lord! 

Upon arrival to Hadassah, we had an hour or two of waiting before her appointment could be arranged. The wait wasn't so difficult, however, with hot cups of tea and a lovely panoramic few of the forest to look at. It was also a pleasant opportunity to get to know Maryam and her mother better. Maryam is a spunky toddler who is learning to speak and knows how to express herself quite well. Her favorite word seems to be "Baht," which is her rendition of the Arabic word for "Again!" 

My co-worker Laila and I learned that Maryam was diagnosed at the age of one month, but due to the crisis in Iraq, all hopes for earlier treatment were deferred. Seven months have passed since her family fled their home, and Maryam is now eighteen months old. It wouldn't be long before we would find out just how crucial time is when it comes to the heart. 

Hadassah treated us as honored guests today, personally escorting us from one department to another with very friendly assistants. I was so thankful for this seamless introduction to a new facility. When we arrived in the cardiology department, Maryam played until an afternoon nap overcame her. And this was our saving grace, because she actually slept through the entirety of her echo exam. The senior cardiologist, Dr. Azaria, was very kind and gentle. He spoke in whispered tones and guided the echo probe ever so softly over Maryam's chest. 

When the exam finished half an hour later, Dr. Azaria discussed the results with his colleagues before sharing the prognosis. He shared that Maryam has a very complex situation. Her heart is on the right side with reversed anatomy, in addition to having a large hole (Ventricular Septal Defect), roughly 18mm in diameter. This defect should have ideally been repaired within her first month of life. But over time, this defect has created increasingly high blood pressure in her heart vessels. The pressure (pulmonary hypertension) is now at a place of possibly being irreversible making Maryam inoperable, according to Dr. Azaria. This means that a repair of her heart could threaten her life sooner then the defect itself. But before a final prognosis can be made, a procedure called a cardiac catheterization is now needed. 

This is a matter that calls for serious prayer on behalf of little Maryam. Would you please join us in asking the Father for life and healing for this precious girl? Her heart condition may be considered impossible in the eyes of man, but it is not beyond our Heavenly Father! 

Maryam's mother took the news with much grace, but it is obvious that she is very anxious for her daughter. On the way home, I asked Laila to translate for me the story of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. His disciples were terrified and cried out to Him while Jesus was asleep in the boat. When He awoke, He simply said, "Peace, be still," and the storm ceased. I then shared with Maryam's mother that storms may rage in our own lives, causing us to worry and fear. And we too can cry out to the Lord and trust that He is able to bring peace to our own hearts. May this be true for us all! 

Maryam in Jerusalem!

Posted on Sun, 02/15/2015 - 11:53 by Jonathan Miles

Baby Maryam was on schedule to have heart surgery in Turkey until the "Islamic State" overran her Christian community near Mosul. Her family fled, leaving their possessions and livelihoods behind, and with them the hope of obtaining Maryam's surgery.

Tonight, that hope has been restored, as Maryam reached Jerusalem, becoming the first child accepted for surgery through Shevet Achim at the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem. 

Coming Shortly

Posted on Tue, 12/02/2014 - 13:16 by Sarah Powell

Maryam is just over a year old and comes from an Iraqi Christian family. Her family has been living as refugees in Kurdistan, northern Iraq, for some time now. Her case is a very rare one. Maryam was born with a univentricular heart, which means that her heart formed is such a way that the left and right ventricles (or chambers) of her heart are really not separated at all, leaving her with one large heart chamber. This means that her oxygenated blood and deoxygenated blood are constantly mixed, resulting in dangerously low amounts of oxygen being delivered to the rest of her body. According to the American Heart Association, the univentricular heart defect has "inspired some of the most creative surgical and interventional approaches in human history." We are trusting God to do miracles in this little girl when she arrives in Israel with her mother in the near future.