Nahla's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

A Beautiful Transformation

Posted on Fri, 11/03/2017 - 14:53 by Lindsay Martin
When Nahla first came to our home five weeks ago, she was just a precious little baby without much to say except to offer a smile here and there. But yesterday as we said goodbye to this little girl and her mother, we could see that she has grown so much in this short time.
Now, she loves to smile and laugh and enjoys demolishing a cupcake. 
This is the work we see God doing in these precious lives. As we gathered together two nights ago to celebrate Nahla's healed heart, we could praise Him for the many miracles He has performed in her life.
We shared together with Nahla and her mother, reflecting on the ways that she has grown and flourished since she first arrived, many thanks to the successful surgery done by the doctors at Wolfson. But we also know that this work is a gift from God and we never want to forget that. 
We praised God together and worshiped Him for His mighty healing. Then we joined together to watch a collection of photos from their time here with us. It was so beautiful to see the amazing transformation Nahla has made. She will go home with a healed heart and be unrecognizable to her family. 
What a blessing to rejoice together with this beautiful family and we thank God for His mighty hand at work in Nahla's life. 

Nahla's Going Home

Posted on Mon, 10/30/2017 - 23:53 by Alexa Bigl

Miss Nahla got the clearance today to return home to Kurdistan! The echo technician was extremely pleased with Nahla's surgical results. The residual VSD the team saw after surgery has completely closed as Nahla has gained weight. It is a beautiful miracle of healing we can praise God's name for.

The Lord is so good! Nahla has been gaining weight rapidly and the cardiology team was very happy with how she is progressing. 

At Shevet we are sad to know this special family will soon be leaving our community, but immensely grateful to God for the healing He has done. Please join us in praying for Nahla and her mother regarding their flights home. There are currently no seats available on the flight with the other families returning to Kurdistan and Nahla and her mom are waiting to see if a ticket will be issued to them upon potential cancelations of other passengers. Thank you for joining us in praying for a seat to open up for them!

One More Echo

Posted on Tue, 10/24/2017 - 00:48 by Deborah Burke
This morning little Nahla and her mother were in the second group taken to Wolfson Hospital for  Nahla's second postoperative echocardiograph. Like the other little ones she was rather noisy and restless so the doctors decided to give her a mild sedative in order to get a good reading/picture of her repaired heart.
Nahla is progressing really well. She seems to grow longer daily and has such a sweet disposition. Today she just responded to too much stimulation and noise with like behaviour. 
The doctors too were pleased with her echocardiograph and the "one more echo" message was like balm to Nahla's young mother's ears. In keeping with the good news Nahla's medication has been reduced.
Please keep this sweet mother and daughter in your prayers for Nahla's continued good progress over the next week leading up to her final echocardiograph on Monday and their journey home to Kurdistan.


Posted on Tue, 10/17/2017 - 00:21 by Deborah Burke
Sweet Nahla was second in line for her first echocardiograph since returning home from hospital.
In a previous  blog it was noted that Nahla was quite thin and needed to put on weight. The doctor was impressed with her overall appearance. She looks healthy and appears to have grown already. Nahla is a happy little girl. She is fairly quiet like her mother and does not seem to demand too much more than her basic needs.
As her surgery was quite prolonged and a big repair, Nahla is prescribed quite a lot of medication. She needs to continue with the same for another week when she has her next echocardiograph.
Her mother was hoping that the next echo would be the last before going home but the cardiologist commented that Nahla is still laboring a bit with her breathing and indicated that it may take some time for her to be well enough to go home to Iraq. I just see this little one as a rosebud that, with good fertilizer  (nourishment) and lots of nurturing will slowly flourish and mature into a beautiful and full flower.
"I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valley." (Song of Solomon 2:1)

Back Home

Posted on Mon, 10/09/2017 - 22:38 by Alexa Bigl

Nahla received the last dose of her antibiotic this afternoon at Wolfson and she and her mom are now back home with us in Jaffa! We are very thankful Nahla's urinary tract infection is now cleared up. The bacteria causing it was quite resistant and it is a praise report the correct antibiotics were finally determined and Nahla is healed from the infection now. 

This precious baby girl also had another echo today. The results were identical to yesterday, as we hoped and expected. We will continue praying the residual VSD will close on its own as Nahla grows and gains weight over the coming days and weeks.
Her mom is staying confident and positive, praying her daughter will not need another procedure. The team said the hole has become small enough that if an intervention is necessary to close it, a catheterization will do the job, a second surgery is not necessary. But we are in prayer that time, medications, and weight gain will allow the hole to close spontaneously. Thank you for joining us in prayer over this and in praise for Nahla's return home. 

Nahla to the Ward

Posted on Tue, 10/03/2017 - 22:32 by Alexa Bigl

Sweet little Nahla is continuing to progress in her recovery from her open-heart surgery. Today, she was moved out of the secondary ICU and into the children's ward! This is always a big step for the children and a sure sign their recovery is progressing well. This is also an important step for the guardians. We are prayerful Nahla's mom can have more restful times being in the children's ward. There will be less activity at night so she can sleep and also less concern for how her daughter is doing every moment. 

The cardiology team is still following Nahla's situation very closely, waiting to make the call if the residual VSDs will need another operation. We fully trust the Lord and ask His healing to be upon Nahla. 
She and her quiet mother still have quite a road in front of them, but we are looking forward to the future times of bonding and sharing in love as they continue down this journey to Nahla's healed heart. 

A Joyful Soul

Posted on Sun, 10/01/2017 - 22:10 by Lindsay Martin
Nahla was joyfully moved out of the ICU over the weekend and into the secondary ICU. She and her mother were very happy today as we visited with them. Nahla is doing very well and the doctors are encouraged by her progress.
Nahla is eating and smiling a lot, especially for her mother. 
The doctors do not know at this time if they will need to do a second surgery, however, they will continue to monitor her heart to see if the small holes in the septum need to be addressed surgically. 
Her mother was very happy to hear that she is healing so quickly and also anxious to know if the small holes will cause a need for another surgery in the future. 
Please pray for the Lord's healing with these holes and also for peace for her mother as she cares for her little girl. We trust in His timing and His perfect healing for Nahla.

Renewed Strength

Posted on Wed, 09/27/2017 - 21:52 by Deborah Burke

This afternoon when I visited the intensive care unit at Wolfson, 4 of the 6 beds were filled with children from Shevet Achim. Little Nahla was one of them.

Earlier today Nahla was extubated and it seems she has let everyone know that she is present, alive and kicking. During my time there she was crying out, it seems in hunger, and kicking her little legs. A repaired heart means a greater need/desire for nutrition. The doctors are very happy with her progress and now all she needs is to put on some weight. I think perhaps this little one is going to develop into a child of strong character. That has not been so apparent preoperatively because she was so weak and little, even looking malnourished.
Nahla's mother looked tired this afternoon but seems satisfied with progress. My prayer is that both mother and daughter will have their strength renewed and soar on wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31).

Successful Surgery

Posted on Tue, 09/26/2017 - 18:34 by Alexa Bigl

It's pretty amazing to think Nahla just arrived two days ago to Israel and she is already laying in the ICU with her heart surgically corrected! The Lord's timing is always perfect and we can see how He works all things according to His purpose. Many of our families wait many weeks before receiving their surgery and others receive the operations quickly; and we can see how the Lord blesses all these different types of situations. It can often be overwhelming for the families who receive surgery very soon after their arrival; they are still becoming acquainted with us and recovering from traveling while also working to gain comfort in a foreign land. However, Nahla's mom certainly does take things as they come to her in a very grace-filled manner, as we began to learn yesterday. 

This morning, Anne Sofie and I arrived to Wolfson and were happy to see Nahla and mom were awake and playing. They both had smiles to share as we talked them through what the morning would look like. And the Wolfson team proved very efficient today; the transporter came right at 7:15am to bring us down to the pre-operative waiting room. 
Nahla loved getting wheeled in her crib through the hospital; she took everything in with great interest. Upon arrival to the operating theater, we enjoyed some time for Nahla and her mom to regather. We played blocks with Nahla and she practiced her sitting up in a chair.
Despite Nahla having to miss breakfast, she gave us lots of smiles and enjoyed cuddling with her mother. The surgical team did their standard checks and it was soon time to take Nahla in the operating room to have sedation and intubate her. As her mom gave her a kiss goodbye, the tears began for both mother and daughter. With great hesitation, Mom finally left the operating theater and headed back upstairs with me for the long wait. I was concerned, at first, with how mom would cope through the waiting as she was quite distraught. She spoke with a few family members on the phone and was not interacting with the Shevet volunteers or the other Kurdish mothers at the hospital. But after some time, she started to perk up a bit and Mohammed's mother and I invited her to join us to go outside of the hospital for a quick shopping trip. This did the trick and Nahla's mom was soon interacting and doing much better as we looked for a new outfit to buy her precious daughter. 
The rest of the day went very well and we were able to show Nahla's mom around the hospital a bit and also enjoyed a big gathering for lunch with all the Kurdish moms whose kiddos are currently hospitalized at Wolfson. It was a merry time and the perfect distraction. After lunch, we headed down to the waiting room outside of the OR. It was still quite early, but after explaining the expected time-line, Nahla's mom wanted to wait there even if it would still be a while. Right as we arrived we saw one of the OR doctors who helps our kids' surgeries and we asked him how Nahla's surgery was going. He looked quite surprised when I asked and said she is great, she's upstairs in the ICU already! So, we explained to Mom the surgery was over and we could go up to see her. Upon entering the ICU, the nurses explained the ICU rules to Nahla's mom and answered her questions. The initial assessment is Nahla's surgery was a successful, complete repair! 
Mom stayed by Nahla's side for over an hour before we headed back to our Jaffa house. Tonight, Mom will rest here and return tomorrowmorning for Nahla's anticipated extubation. Thank you for praying for sweet Nahla and her lovely mother, may the Lord continue to shine His blessings upon this family. 

Taking it in Their Stride

Posted on Mon, 09/25/2017 - 22:47 by Deborah Burke
 "Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size - abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Messiah take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become." 2 Corinthians 12:10
Nahla and her mother were part of the second wave of Shevet children to arrive at Wolfson today for pre-surgery assessments. They found themselves sitting with some of the other children and their mothers in the garden waiting their turn to be poked and prodded by the medical team and then escorted to various venues around the hospital for various tests.
I took over from a colleague in the echocardiograph area. It was with great surprise that after the echocardiograph the cardiologist announced that Nahla was having surgery tomorrow and would I please take her down to the ward for admission.
I had goosebumps and others overtly celebrated this news. Nahla was oblivious to it all after being sedated for the echocardiograph.
We arrived in the ward only to be told that Nahla had to have a chest x-ray. So off to that venue we went. Nahla remained oblivious to the whole event and was like a floppy doll in her mother's arms. Mum looked a little tired after such an emotionally eventful day but tomorrow comes a reward for her patience: a gift of healing for her little daughter's heart from the great creator. Let us praise His name for the abundant gifts He bestows on his children, pray for a peaceful night's sleep for Nahla and her young mother, and that we give it all to the Lord, resting in His strong arms, believing in a perfect healing.