Sara's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

A Successful Catheterization For Sara

Posted on Wed, 12/19/2012 - 22:30 by Kristina Kayser

Lovely Sara reached her second milestone of medical treatment here in Israel today. After being admitted to Wolfson on Monday evening, we learned that she would remain hospitalized for a cardiac catheterization scheduled for Wednesday. This was much sooner than any of us expected, having just arrived to the country. I knew her mom would be happy about this, but I wasn't so sure how Sara would feel. Being far from home and in a strange environment had already aroused many tears. She seemed overwhelmed at the idea of spending even one night at the hospital this week. 

Nevertheless, plans were set in motion and the cardiology team wasted no time in scheduling this important procedure. Because of Sara's age (13 years) and the multifaceted nature of her heart condition, a catheterization (cath) was deemed necessary to glean critical pre-operative information. A small catheter would be threaded into her heart and injected with diagnostic dye, thus providing a canvas for 3-D images of the cardiac vessels and chambers. The hope was that this semi-invasive procedure would provide an excellent avenue for working towards a game plan for surgery. Sara actually underwent a cath in Kurdistan one month ago, but no documented results accompanied her to Israel. Thus, Wolfson's team needed an inside glimpse of her heart for themselves.

When I spoke with Sara's mum on the phone this morning, she sounded calm and confident. I knew Sara would need her mother's strength to ease her anxieties. But mothers need support as well, which is why Gerrit, fellow volunteer, and I followed the ribbon-like highway down to Tel Aviv today. The cath was twenty minutes underway when I found Sara's mother in the waiting area. She was sitting alone, cool as a cucumber, with a warm smile on her face. She just seemed happy to see a familiar face. I settled down beside her, prepared for the usual hour or more of waiting. Twenty minutes later, however, Dr. Tamir walked out and announced that the cath was over! I was shocked. Sara's mum and I had had just enough time to become better acquainted and learn about each other's families before Sara's gurney came rolling down the hall. 

Not only did the procedure go smoothly, but her recovery did as well. She was a bit teary coming out of anesthesia but soothed easily at the sight of her mother beside her. For the first half an hour, Sara dozed in and out of sleep as the anesthesia wore off. She woke up just enough to get a few sips of water, her first since midnightlast night. I stood beside her, stroking her hair and telling her I loved her and that hopefully she would return to Jerusalem tomorrow. Up to this point, Sara had been pretty unresponsive. However, just as I finished speaking these words, Sara suddenly reached up and clutched my hand. With a smile and a sparkle in her eye, she said, "Please come quickly! Come at 7am!" I kissed her and her mother goodbye with a contented heart. Sara was resting well with her mother lovingly caring for her every need. As we wait for the doctors to determine a surgery date for Sara, I trust that God will continue to pour out His grace in her life.


Posted on Mon, 12/17/2012 - 20:40 by Ryan Gregg

When Sara arrived at Prophets Street in Jerusalem last night, she seemed ready for the web of relationships in a community. At thirteen years old, she is emotionally sensitive, and her vulnerability is somehow disarming, putting others at ease. Rozhgar, a twelve-year old patient also from Kurdistan, quickly took Sara under her wing of friendship. Sara then made it her first point of duty to hand-deliver a letter from Asma, a fourteen-year old Kurdish girl who received heart surgery in Israel on January 15th of this year.

Sara has a twin, and is one of ten children. Her diagnosis is Tetralogy of Fallot, a condition with four separate defects in the heart. It is ideally corrected during early childhood; because Sara is an adolescent, her case is more complicated. In fact, Sara was diagnosed with a heart defect as a baby. A heart echo in Baghdad when Sara was an infant revealed the presence of a heart defect, but the decision at the time was to wait and see if she might naturally grow out of it. She did not. Over the last decade+ it became apparent to her family that Sara has a bigger problem than was originally thought.

One month ago she received a catheterization in Kurdistan. Unfortunately, the results of the procedure were not brought to Israel, and another catheterization will likely be done here. Today Sara had her first medical tests in Israel, including an EKG, blood work, chest x-ray, echocardiogram, and vital signs. The blood results showed a problem with Sara

Long-neglected Sara Coming to Israel

Posted on Mon, 11/19/2012 - 22:28 by Jonathan Miles

Doctors in Israel have reviewed the medical report of 13-year-old Sara and accepted her for open-heart surgery, which should offer her the hope of going to school, growing into adulthood, marrying, and having children.

Normally her condition (Tetralogy of Fallot) would be corrected as a toddler. It is pure grace that Sara has survived as long as she has, and further grace that she is still a candidate for surgery. We hope to have her with us in Jerusalem by mid-December.