Omeed's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Emergent Surgery

Posted on Sun, 09/10/2017 - 22:21 by Alexa Bigl

Last night, just after the end of Shabbat, Sheba hospital called to inform us Omeed's oxygen was very low and they needed to intubate him for mechanical ventilation. They were hopeful this step would stabilize Omeed's condition and give time for the surgical team to review and change, as needed, their surgical plan. However, by 23:30 the team realized Omeed's oxygenation was not improving and an echo showed his lungs were not getting enough oxygen pumped to them to sustain Omeed through the night. 

So, the surgical team was called upon to come in, create a new plan quickly, and get Omeed's operation underway. The plan for Omeed to receive a two-step surgery remained with an additonal part added to this first surgery. In addition to the planned pulmonary banding (to help the left ventricle strengthen) the team also did a temporary shunt to increase blood flow to the lungs. 
Omeed's mom remained calm as Omeed underwent all the tests, procedures, and pokes and prods. She asked good questions about Omeed's condition and the surgical plan and I was very impressed with how she conducted herself throughout the night. 
Once Omeed was wheeled into the OR, we had a two hour wait. Omeed's mom and I enjoyed looking at pictures of her family, visited with Zulaikha's mom, ate chips, and dozed a bit. And after two hours, we saw Omeed getting wheeled back towards us and his ICU room. Omeed's mom and I went to walk around a bit waiting for the team to stabilize and settle Omeed. This took a bit longer than typical. The doctor explained they were fighting to get Omeed's blood pressure higher and stable and his oxygen was still low. After getting Omeed set up on the proper medications and ventilator settings, however, he was doing much better. By 4am Omeed was stable and the nurses and doctors were able to relax some. And throughout the rest of today Omeed has remained stable. While there is a chance Omeed will be extubated during this week between his surgeries, it's much more likely he will remain intubated and sedated until after his second surgery, during which he will receive the complete repair of his heart, God willing. 
Thank you for your prayers for Omeed, his mother, and their family back in Kurdistan. Please be joining us in praying for the increasing strength of Omeed's left ventricle over this next week. And for God's perfect timing to continue reigning over this tiny little baby. 

Nurture and Nature

Posted on Wed, 09/06/2017 - 00:07 by Maxine Stuart

** Update **

Today Omeed was second in line to go into surgery, however, because Zulaikha’s surgery took roughly 7 hours, there was no time left to operate on Omeed. He had been fasting, but is now back to feeding every 3 hours. It is expected that he will have surgery at the beginning of next week.

Today I got to visit little Omeed and his mother in ICU. He had a fever of 38.5° C (101.3° F) last night so today’s surgery was postponed. His temperature was stable today, but he is currently on antibiotics and anti-fever medication.

They took a culture sample to test for bacteria, and should know the results by tomorrow morning. If the results are clear, then it will be safe to proceed with the first stage of Omeed’s two-step surgery. Omeed’s mother was in higher spirits today. We were able to take her and one of the other Mums for a walk outside this afternoon. It was their first real glimpse of Israel as they went straight to the hospital from the airport. They loved being in the fresh air and the sunlight.

They took lots of photos and video-called their families to show off their surroundings. We will send a team to visit them again tomorrow and will post another update then. Thank you for your support and prayers.     

Omeed’s Urgent Trip to Israel

Posted on Mon, 09/04/2017 - 21:43 by Maxine Stuart

Omeed’s arrival in Israel has been an adventure from the beginning. During our team meeting on Thursday, we received word that two of our emergency cases in Kurdistan had been granted approval to fly, and 3 hours later we were on the road, headed to Jordan to intercept them.

Two month-old Omeed was one of those cases. On Sunday night Omeed and his mother drove 4 hrs from their home in the mountains of northern Iraq to the city of Erbil. In Erbil our friend John helped them board a plane to Amman, Jordan. I met up with them in Amman, and escorted them the rest of the way to Tel-Aviv - going straight to Sheba Hospital after landing.

When I met Omeed for the first time, it was on-board an empty airplane amongst a flurry of cabin crew, ground crew, boarding managers, gate staff, paramedics, and, a very calm and kind pilot. Omeed and Zulaikha were traveling together - both infants, both in urgent need of heart surgery. Zulaikha required oxygen, hence the need for a medical escort. As we got Omeed and his mother seated, I observed that Omeed’s complexion and lips had a blue tinge from lack of oxygen in the blood, and his breathing was laboured. The next time I checked him, his lips were a darker blue. I knew I would have to keep a close eye on him as I administered oxygen to Zulaikha. He fought bravely through all the stages of the journey. Thanks to the many prayers of family and friends, God’s favour was so evident throughout our whole journey. We breezed through immigration and baggage in record time, and reached our team with not even the slightest hiccup. In the arrivals area our head nurse, Alexa, checked over Omeed.

His oxygen saturation levels were at 60% (a healthy percentage is in the high 90's). With his condition (TGA - Transposition of the Great Arteries) he usually averages 50-65%, so for him, this was actually not a bad reading.

We drove to the hospital where Omeed had an echocardiogram, a baseline ECG, and a few other general tests. It was decided that Omeed would be admitted, and we waited some hours for a bed. During this wait Omeed’s mother, exhausted and overwhelmed broke into tears. This situation is hard on the parents, being in an unfamiliar environment surrounded by foreign languages, and not knowing what will happen to their child. I tried to comfort her as best as I could. Omeed was admitted to ICU, where a team of medical staff quickly worked on him.

They decided that Omeed would undergo surgery (likely on Tuesday) where the surgeons would perform an arterial switch.

This is a big surgery, and can have complications, so please keep Omeed and his family in your prayers. The surgeons at Sheba do this surgery about twice a week, so have a lot of experience, but we can never know for sure how the patient’s body will respond.

Please be praying for God’s favour over Omeed to continue to flow, for Omeed’s Mum to feel peace, and for guidance and wisdom for the doctors. I know God has a plan for Omeed and has never left his side from the very beginning. God loves him dearly, and he is His child. Our God is mighty, and capable to do all things, so thank you for standing with us in faith! May God bless you and strengthen you.

** Update **

After the hospital went back and forth last night and this morning about the timing of Omeed's surgery, we finally received confirmation the surgery would not be today. After a more thorough echo and other examinations, the doctors have determine a two-step surgery will be the wisest course of action for Omeed. Omeed's left ventricle needs to get stronger through steps in a first surgery before the big repair can be undertaken. The examination results show Omeed is right on the verge between being able to go for the full repair in one step versus needing both steps. After discussion and meeting with the cardiac team, it was made clear to the surgeon the two-steps would be the best option. The first surgery is relatively minor and Omeed will need less than a week for his left ventricle to grow in strength to be ready for the second surgery. So, Omeed is on tomorrow's surgery schedule for step one and the team is hoping his left ventricle will be ready for the second step by Sunday or Monday of next week. Of course, the second surgery will depend, in the end, on how quickly Omeed's left ventricle can strengthen. So many prayers are needed. May the Lord's hand and wisdom reign over Omeed as the Sheba cardiac team leads the way in lovingly caring for this precious baby.