Najlaa's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Najlaa's Condition Improving

Posted on Sun, 12/04/2011 - 17:14 by Caroline Brough

At Wolfson this morning, the Shevet team greeted Najlaa

Najlaa In Critical Condition After Heart Surgery

Posted on Thu, 12/01/2011 - 20:13 by Kristina Kayser

Beautiful Najlaa still lies in a critical state in Wolfson's ICU today. Dr. Khoury reports that yesteday's TOF repair was successful, with the breach in her heart sealed and her pulmonary arterty opened for greater blood flow. Her mother was relieved to hear this good news.

Dr. Khoury went on to share "the not so good news," as he put it. Najlaa's condition is one that is ideally corrected within the first few years of life. Because eight years have passed with Najlaa's heart functioning at a less than optimal level, her body is having a difficult time adjusting to the operation. She has developed a complication called pulmonary edema. This means that her respiratory system is working overtime and her lungs are inflamed and under pressure from an excess of blood and other fluid. A procedure to test the pressure gradient in her lungs was being performed this afternoon, barring me from seeing her in the ICU and from taking any pictures. Dr. Khoury says an advanced ventilator is providing the proper amount of oxygen without creating further trauma. Again, he reiterated, "her condition is very critical, but we hope she will improve." 

I spoke first with Najlaa's mother, who then handed me the phone to speak with her husband. I told them the doctors were working hard to help their daughter and God is very near to her right now. The expression on her mother's face changed as we talked and prayed together. Initially, she looked helpless and anxious with tears running down her cheeks. Before leaving, however, she seemed much calmer and thankful to have a better understanding of her daughter's situation. 

As I consider the great risks involved with heart surgery, I also am mindful of the truth that every danger is met by God's matchless power. He asked Abraham long ago, "Is anything too difficult for the Lord?" (Gen. 18:14). May my heart both now and always respond to that question with resounding faith.

Najlaa Admitted for Surgery Tomorrow

Posted on Wed, 11/30/2011 - 00:22 by Caroline Brough

This afternoon Najlaa was admitted to Wolfson Medical Center and is scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning. Stephanie, a Shevet team member, and I were hoping she would not need blood to be taken, as she has already undergone the process several times before. Unfortunately, the medical staff thought that it was necessary and we braced ourselves for an upcoming outburst from Najlaa. There were several unsuccessful and painful attempts before Najlaa gave any blood. She wiggled slightly as the needled entered her arm but was soothed by Stephanie

Najlaa Welcomed Home

Posted on Thu, 11/17/2011 - 00:00 by Kristina Kayser

Najlaa, our shy beauty, was welcomed home to Jerusalem today after an extended time at Wolfson. The prospect for surgery this week ended; however, we hope that she will be invited back soon. While leaving the hospital without surgery is disappointing, I believe that God knows what is truly best for Najlaa and her mother. A time of reprieve away from busy hospital corridors will do them both a world of good. If they must wait, why should it not be in the comforts of a home surrounded by friends and family? As we ascended towards Jerusalem, Najlaa slept peacefully. She slept so soundly, in fact, that it took several efforts to wake her up when we arrived at the Shevet house. I sensed today that Najlaa was hungry for affection, and as the following picture, demonstrates, this was true. As soon as she made her way to the upstairs living room, she nestled right into the arms of our volunteer, Caroline. One of our greatest privileges here is being an extension of the Father's love to these children. Please pray that Najlaa and her mother will experience an outpouring of His love for them as they continue waiting.

Najlaa on Standby for Surgery

Posted on Wed, 11/16/2011 - 00:00 by Stephanie Ventura

Najlaa, our Mona Lisa child, is still quietly and contently waiting in the hospital for direction from the doctors as to when her heart surgery will be. She and her mother were a bit solemn today, and her mother explained that Najlaa is beginning to ask about when they will get to go back to Iraq. It must be difficult for both a child who has to wait without any solid answers, and for a mother who simply cannot give any because she is also waiting on the doctors. The good news, however, is that Najlaa

A Gentle and Quiet Spirit

Posted on Sun, 11/13/2011 - 22:38 by Stephanie Ventura

We visited Najlaa today in the hospital, and the moment she saw our faces she smiled and bashfully looked down and back up again. With her developmental delays she does not respond easily to questions, but today after asking if she was alright she nodded her head, kept her smile and made a

Najlaa Undergoes Heart Catheterization

Posted on Wed, 11/09/2011 - 23:02 by Donna_West

Najlaa was wheeled from her room to the catheterization department this morning before she even woke up. After arriving in the waiting area we spent nearly an hour and a half waiting for the room to be made sterile and for medications to be prepared and measured. Najlaa continued to sleep undisturbed.
The medical team allowed me to take a few pictures from a distance, which I will add to a DVD I am making of Najlaa

Najlaa Admitted for Catheterization

Posted on Tue, 11/08/2011 - 22:39 by Kristina Kayser
Najlaa showed no signs of fear this morning as we headed to Wolfson Hospital. Walking hand in hand, I could not help but notice the contrast between her skin and mine. The purple hue of her sweater seemed closer in comparison. How beautiful will be the day when Najlaa's lips and fingertips will reflect a healthy pink tone. God willing, tomorrow's catheterization will bring her one step closer to that day. This procedure will give doctors a better understanding of her condition and the surgical repair required. 
An uncharacteristically quiet pediatric ward made Najlaa's admission as smooth as smooth could be. Once the nurses finished their tea and toast, they set to work on securing a set of vital signs, starting an IV port, and drawing blood for lab tests. This last bit made Najlaa cry, but I discovered something that quickly eased her pain. I showed her a video clip on my camera of a river in northern Israel, and she loved it. She must have watched it at least ten times while the nurses finished their work. Perhaps the sound of rushing water soothed her spirit. In any case, it completely took her attention away from nurses and needles. 
As street clothes were exchanged for hospital pajamas, Najlaa and her mom settled into their room for the night. With limited speech and a shy personality, it is difficult to know what Najlaa is thinking and feeling. Nonetheless, her eyes, for which she is named, speak volumes. In Arabic, Najlaa means "large, wide eyes," and how appropriately this describes her. Just before leaving, I saw in her lovely brown eyes an expression of calm confidence. My prayer is that her eyes will continue to bear witness of a beautiful work within.

Najlaa Comes to Jerusalem for the First Time

Posted on Thu, 11/03/2011 - 22:51 by Kristina Kayser

Wolfson Hospital called this morning to report that Najlaa was ready to join the Shevet community in Jerusalem! She and her mother have been staying in the Children's Department for the last three days as doctors monitored her condition. Concerned about her level of strength and low oxygen level, I wanted to speak with a cardiologist about her situation. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to do just that.

Dr. Olivia explained to me that Najlaa is stable and faring better now than when she first arrived. A blood transfusion was not required, though she has been receiving IV fluid therapy. The fluids serve to hydrate her body and improve circulation and oxygenation. The doctor added that Najlaa will need a catheterization next week to provide a better understanding of her heart malfunction. This procedure involves threading a small catheter through an artery in her leg up to her heart. After special dye is injected through the catheter, doctors are given an up-close internal view of each cardiac chamber. Once the catheterization is complete, surgery will be the next step.

When I saw Najlaa and her mother this afternoon, there seemed to be an improvement in her coloring and spirits. She's still demure, dropping her gaze when anyone but her mother speaks with her. Nevertheless, a pink balloon brought smiles to her face as she walked around the room on steady feet. It was such an encouragement to see the joy on both her and her mother's faces. Praise God that Najlaa is already benefiting from the care she's receiving in Israel. There's so much to look forward to in the coming weeks for this brave little girl. As her heart prepares to undergo repair, I believe Najlaa will experience God's life-giving love on many levels.