Rozhya's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Stronger By the Day

Posted on Sun, 08/11/2013 - 21:26 by Kristina Kayser
Rozhya has been in the children's department at Wolfson for four days now and continues improving one baby step at a time. Her eyes were open and bright when Rahel and I found her this afternoon. We also noticed a small feeding tube in her nose and were told that she needed extra calories due to weight loss. Rozhya should regain some kilos in no time with this added nutrition in addition to breastfeeding .
I was thankful to see that Rozhya was breathing on room air, free of any respiratory assistance. As of last Friday, her oxygen levels were still dropping into the 70's when crying, requiring the use of an oxygen mask. By God's grace, her oxygen saturation is now in the high 90's without any supplement!
Moreover, doctors have been concerned by Rozhya's lethargic behavior and flat affect in recent days. One possible cause is that her body is still largely affected by the opiates received during her extended stay in ICU. As she is gradually being weaned off of opiate therapy, Dr. Alona remarked, much to her relief, that Rozhya's level of alertness and activity is increasing with the reduction of medication.
Another variable to note is the impact low oxygen levels have on a child's neurological development in the first year of life. Only now, at ten months of age, is Rozhya finally receiving the proper amount of oxygen her body needs. Dr. Alona is currently waiting to perform any CNS (central nervous system) testing until the opiate weaning process is finished this week. At this point, medical staff will determine if her condition is related to more than just opiate usage. And even if neurological damage is present, Dr. Alona also said that a child's brain has amazing plasticity. In other words, with time and special attention to development, there is enormous potential for rebound and accelerated growth.
Conclusions have yet to be drawn; for now, doctors will maintain a close watch on Rozhya's progress. Regarding her cardiac status, Rozhya's heart is doing splendidly. Dr. Alona was very pleased with her echo results today. This is a huge answer to prayer, and I praise the Lord for His faithful healing. As we pray towards full restoration of Rozhya's heart and body, may our hope rest in the fact that nothing is too difficult for the Lord. The same God who spoke the world into existence and spans the universe with His hand is the One who fashioned and loves beautiful Rozhya.

Wide Awake

Posted on Thu, 08/08/2013 - 20:01 by Jesse Tilman

Seeing Rozhya yesterday was again a joyful time as we found her in the regular children’s ward. This means that she is well on her way to being discharged to Jerusalem. She is off of all the  oxygen tubes, IV lines, and monitoring wires we’ve seen her on the past couple of weeks. Stable and healing, the nurses are happy with her progress. Two other Kurdish mothers came in with Marisa, Rachel, and I as we stayed a little while with Rozhya. She is still wide-eyed and frightened looking, but she is a little more active and responsive now. She followed us with her eyes when we got nearby and tightened her fingers around mine when I held her hand. I thanked the Lord for His healing once again and prayed that her body and soul would continue to find healing in the days to come.

The Miracle of a Healing Body

Posted on Tue, 08/06/2013 - 23:04 by Jesse Tilman
My spirit jumped when I heard that Rozhya had been moved to secondary ICU! She is finally out of the most intensive care and the isolation room. Her diaphragm surgery went well and she has recovered from her fever. Now in the intermediate ICU room, she is off of the ventilator and on the road to recovery.
Wide-eyed and listening, she stares straight ahead. She was unresponsive until her mother came in and began to look after her. Then she came alive and began to move around. Her mother is ecstatic, though it’s hard to see with her culturally conservative demeanor. She’s grinning and I would even say bouncy, though a frank American eye would be hard-pressed to see it.
A team from northern California came to visit Wolfson hospital and see our work there and together we went to see Rozhya and pray for her. Rozhya’s mother smiled her gratitude as we gave attention to her daughter. As the team’s pastor prayed over the girl we thanked God together for the miracle of her healing body. God has done it again; he has transformed our weakness into a testimony to His power!

Rozhya Gaining Ground

Posted on Mon, 08/05/2013 - 21:36 by Kristina Kayser

Our Shevet team arrived at Wolfson early this afternoon for Rozhya's diaphragmatic surgery, only to discover that it had already been completed. I was surprised and disappointed we had not been there to support Rozhya's mother. However, my concerns were soon put to rest as this mother came to greet us with a big smile on her face. She was so calm and full of joy.

The chief ICU physician, Dr. Houri, informed me that the procedure itself was very simple and that it had gone well without complications. Rozhya's diaphragm and connecting nerve were stimulated through a small incision on her side. The hope is that when Rozhya is extubated (taken off of the ventilator) tomorrow, her diaphragm and lungs will respond with proper respiratory function.

Something else to be thankful for is that doctors are beginning to wean Rozhya off of anesthesia in preparation for tomorrow's extubation. I loved watching her mother's delight at the sight of her baby opening her eyes and moving her head from side to side. While in the ICU, Sonia added that it will be so wonderful when Rozhya is finally able to begin playing and even walking. We dream, and pray, and long for this day to come by the grace of God! Thank you for continuing to intercede for the life and health of this beautiful little girl.

Rozhya Heading Towards Improvement

Posted on Sun, 08/04/2013 - 20:43 by Kristina Kayser
Sometimes, even the most experienced experts face a conundrum in their field. Such has been the case for Wolfson's cardiology team regarding baby Rozhya. During a visit to the hospital on Friday, one doctor defined Rozhya's situation as such: "She's a mystery!" Infection has been ruled out as the likely cause of her deterioration, and no additional theories have been presented. Still, her very life is a miracle, and we praise God that He continues to sustain her each day.
Rozhya remained in stable condition over the weekend, and her mother's spirits have brightened. She holds on to the hope that she will soon hold her baby in her arms. Late this afternoon, I spoke with an ICU physician to receive the most current information. It seems as though Rozhya's heart is doing well and her overall condition is much improved. Medical staff were prepared to extubate her this morning until an echo exam revealed that she has semi-paralysis of her diaphragm. This is preventing her lungs from fully inflating and requires surgical intervention.
Tomorrow afternoon, a simple procedure to manipulate the diaphragm will be performed in hopes of improving her lung capacity. Plans will then be made imminently to take Rozhya off of the ventilator and all sedation. While she may have taken a couple steps back in recent days, I believe that Rozhya is on her way towards marked healing.
As we pray and cherish every piece of good news, may we never cease to trust the Father and Healer of our hearts.

Holding on to Hope

Posted on Thu, 08/01/2013 - 23:38 by Kristina Kayser
A phone call from Wolfson's ICU this afternoon brought some unexpected and alarming news regarding Rozhya. She had been progressing smoothly, to the point that doctors were prepared to transfer her out of ICU to the intermediate unit. Then, without warning, Rozhya's condition began to quickly deteriorate. The main problem was that medical staff could not find her blood pressure. Because this is a necessary vital sign, concern mounted as time passed without detection. Her respiration became laborious, and there was evidence of atelectasis (lung collapse).
In order to prevent further complications, doctors took precaution by re-intubating Rozhya to regulate her breathing on a ventilator. By the time I reached the hospital, ICU staff had asked Rozhya's mother to wait outside for some time. Her face looked desperate for news, any news about her precious baby. I tried my best to explain the situation, but an expression of bewilderment remained. "She was so good this morning," her mother said pensively, "They were going to move her out of ICU." Tears fell again and again. Partly from fasting for Ramadan and partly from the weight of anxiety, it was obvious that this mother was physically and emotionally exhausted. I encouraged her to rest to no avail.
Two hours passed before we learned that an arterial line had been secured to measure Rozhya's internal blood pressure. Doctors still were unsure as to the specific cause of her condition, but she was now stable, praise the Lord. Standing once more at her daughter's side and hearing a small piece of good news brought temporary consolation to Rozhya's mother. I gave my word to call ICU for an update later this evening and to call her with any new information. This woman received our love, our prayers, and our affection today like dry ground thirsty for rain.
I spoke this evening with Rozhya's nurse who confirmed that she is still in stable condition and is being treated with antibiotics, due to infection being the most likely culprit. As our community gathered to pray for this sweet baby, I was reminded of the amazing reality that God not only hears our cry, but He is faithful to answer. He is the giver of life, and He has preserved Rozhya through so much already. May our faith grow stronger as we pray and trust and wait to see God's hand move mightily.

Keep On Keeping On

Posted on Wed, 07/31/2013 - 22:59 by Jesse Tilman
Rozhya’s recovery is progressing. The E. Coli infection is still working its way out of her system, and she is in the isolation room of the ICU. She was extubated yesterday, and her mother is happy to see her moving and looking around at times. Rozhya’s mother is keeping good company with Marya’s mom down the hall and now Hoz’s mother as well.
We met Marya's and Rozhya's moms walking down the hall, chatting together. Later in Hoz’s room, Rozhya’s mom started talking about the nurses and some of her peeves. A Palestinian lady in the next bed over gave a laugh and then swung her son’s balloon at Rozhya's mom to show her disapproval! She didn’t know Kurdish but she got enough of the gist of it to play around. Rozhya’s mom got the hint and stopped after we had a laugh.
The nurses told us that Rozhya should be moved to regular ICU, if not out to the ward, in about 3 days. This seemed long to her mother, but we later heard from Dr. Alona, through Sonia, that they hope to have her out in 2 days.  As I watched Sonia chase Rozhya's mom around a pillar with her camera while both giggled, I knew that it’s only a matter of time. God is good and is watching over this special family. Rozhya's mom allowed me to pray for her and Rozhya, and I found strength in the words of Psalm 91: “'Because he loves me,' says the Lord, 'I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.'”

Signs of Improvement

Posted on Tue, 07/30/2013 - 22:15 by Susan Kent

Rozhya continues to recover in ICU with one additional setback and a few marked improvements. We learned today that Rozhya had contracted a bacterial infection and was being treated with antibiotics. The good news is that they were able to close her chest and that her heart and body seemed to be in such steady improvement and recovery that they hope to extubate her tomorrow. Celebrating all milestones, her mother was giddy as she described Rozhya's sweet responses to hearing her mothers voice. Please continue praying for Rozhya's recovery as her heart and body heal from surgery and that the Lord would give her mother an extra supply of comfort and peace during this difficult time.

Rozhya is Moving Along

Posted on Sun, 07/28/2013 - 22:02 by Sonia D'Orso

Today we visited Rozhya. The doctor told us that Rohzya is now stable, and she will get well. Rozhya's mom stayed at the hospital with her daughter for the first time this evening. It is especially difficult to stay in the ICU right now because it is very busy and full of patients. However, there is another Kurdish mom in the hospital now that can give her comfort in these days. Maybe tomorrow the doctors will close Rozhya's chest. Please pray that everything continues to go well. Thank the Lord for his grace.

In Stable But Serious Condition

Posted on Thu, 07/25/2013 - 22:20 by Kristina Kayser
A small group of us arrived at Wolfson this morning, optimistic to find Rozhya extubated and progressing in recovery. Instead, we found her in a difficult situation. Rozhya's oxygen saturation had dropped during the night, leading the doctors to put her on a more intensive form of ventilation. The surge of oxygenated blood going to her heart following yesterday's repair is causing her lungs to compensate by producing surplus fluid. Then, like a domino effect, the heart experiences increased pressure and difficulty pumping. The doctors were discussing all of these details and their next course of action just as Rozhya's mother and I entered the ICU.
The sight of doctors gathered near her baby and speaking in serious tones was disconcerting to be sure. When the opportunity presented itself, I asked one of them to explain their plan for Rozhya. The ICU staff were trying to determine whether or not to reopen her chest cavity in order to relieve the pressure around her heart . Rozhya's mother was shocked and teary-eyed at this response as she tried to process her daughter's condition.
Minutes later, the decision was made to reopen Rozhya's chest right there in the ICU. The procedure was finished within an hour, but Shevet nurse, Sonia, and Rozhya's mother were asked to wait outside until all was stable. This time came eventually, accompanied by more tears and questions. Dr. Hanita assured us that Rozhya is stable but that it will take some time before her heart adjusts to its new physiology. On Sunday, doctors will reevaluate Rozhya's condition and determine when to close her chest again.
I believe that we have a kind and faithful Creator who fashioned Rozhya's heart and loves her deeply. Though this road appears long and arduous, the Lord is near in every way. "And you saw how the LORD your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child." Deuteronomy 1:31