Sarina's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Sarina Returns to Jerusalem after Catheterization

Posted on Thu, 05/10/2012 - 23:52 by Natalie Kayser

Today Kristina, two visiting friends, and I drove to Wolfson Hospital for a special visit: Sarina was coming home after her catheterization. Sarina and her mother beamed with joy to see us, knowing they would be returning to their home away from home at Shevet in Jerusalem.

On the return trip, we took a detour and escorted two mothers and a child from Gaza to the border, where they were reunited with their families. To say the least, I had to become quite creative to entertain Sarina in the van for two hours. She played with my watch, we made funny faces, sang little songs, and even played hospital. I was intrigued as she took my hand, pretended to prick my finger, dab it with gauze, draw blood from my veins, and wind a bandage around it. This was all done void of props, but very realistically. It caused me to see a glimpse of her world from the last few days, and I nodded to her knowingly as if to say, "I know your pain and I'm so sorry."

On the way we made one more stop for ice cream

A Serene Morning for Sarina

Posted on Wed, 05/09/2012 - 19:57 by Larry Krieg

Sarina was calm and happy when we (Jesse, Larry, and Donna) arrived at the hospital this morning to see how she and her mom were doing. They spent the night in the hospital so the doctors could do a catheter-mapping of her heart first thing in the morning, and she was already in the cath-lab waiting room by 8 AM.

Her face blossomed into a serene smile when she recognized us, and she happily played finger-games while we waited for the doctors to be ready. When the time came, her mother carried her gently into the procedure room, where the doctors were able to get good pictures of the inside of her heart while she was anesthetized. 

After the procedure, she woke up a bit agitated on the way back to her room, but soon went peacefully to sleep with fairly good oxygen levels, her mother by her side.

Tomorrow's Catheterization Will Map Vina's Heart

Posted on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 22:31 by Donna_Petrel

The composure of Sarina today for the trip to the hospital was nothing short of amazing to me! I couldn't help but wonder if part of the reason was that her mother had given her little girl the look of a special occasion by adding eye make-up and lipstick for her admission. And Sarina responded by acting older than her three years - except during the IV start. After only a short wait it was time for that part of the admission process ... she was as brave as she could be, didn't cry very long afterward, and her mother carefully preserved that beautiful eye make-up even amidst the tears. Tomorrow morning she will have a diagnostic catheterization to help map out the details of a later heart surgery. 

The nurses were able to assign her to a room very quickly, and Sarina entered her new 'neighborhood' calmly, and perched upon the bed with her mother beside her. I assured them that all of us at Shevet Achim and many others were praying for them, which was a comfort to Sarina's mother.

Just then, Vina's mother, accompanied by Kristina, came to sit with us as she awaited Vina's return from the operating room. I bade them farewell in order to bring Fatimah back to Jerusalem, and as I left, heard Sarina's mother beginning to comfort her friend. Tomorrow, I imagine Vina's mother will be the comforter during Sarina's catheterization.

Beginning Heart Treatment in Israel

Posted on Tue, 04/17/2012 - 16:54 by Jesse Tilman

This week of Passover has been a good time to see Sarina and her mother adjusting to life at Shevet Achim. Though lacking the energy of a normal girl, Sarina has still showed her rambunctious nature in our little community of mothers and their children upstairs. From grabbing pens out of pockets and drawing on our hands to sitting on the couch arms and yelling at passersby for entertainment, she makes her voice heard.

Today we took her for her initial echo, x-ray, and ECG. Her diagnosis is Tetralogy of Fallot, meaning that there are four malfunctions in her heart. The surgery will help fix at least two of the issues. One large hole, an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), will be closed, and her pulmonary artery, which is too narrow now and creating poor circulation, will be opened more for better blood flow to her lungs. When these two issues are resolved, her skin should turn from blue to pink thanks to proper oxygen levels after surgery. Her skin is now a shade of blue/brown.

Sarina doesn

Blue Sarina Reaches Israel

Posted on Sun, 04/08/2012 - 21:51 by Jonathan Miles

Sarina and her mother flew into Amman on Wednesday, together with three other Iraqi children coming to Israel for heart surgeries. By Thursday lunchtime we were at the Jordan River border crossing, where Sarina demonstrated she still has a healthy appetite.

The low blood oxygen levels caused by Sarina's heart defect leave her distinctly bluish, but still with energy and enthusiasm as we prepared to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem Friday evening.

We finished off a great weekend of redemption with a visit down the street to the Garden Tomb for the Sunday morning Resurrection celebration.

Sarina will wait with us in Jerusalem this week until the end of Passover, and we hope to begin her hospital exams at the start of next week.

Applying for Visas for Sarina

Posted on Mon, 03/05/2012 - 13:55 by Jonathan Miles

We're putting in the visa applications now for four-and-a-half year old Sarina to come to Israel for the life-saving heart surgery unavailable in her own country, and hope to bring her across the Jordan River before the end of March.

Sarina was seen by our partner cardiologist Kirk Milhoan in December, who wrote she is a "great candidate for surgery in Israel" and should be brought as soon as possible. Her blood oxygen levels are only 69% of normal, and she is at risk of sudden death from cyanotic spelling at any time.