Shaida's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Sweet and Strong

Posted on Mon, 06/29/2015 - 08:59 by Ruth Zellweger

Little Shaida has won many friends during her time in Israel. Her name would come up often during our conversations about children that had been with us in the past. And more than one of our female volunteers was hoping to see that sweet little girl and her mother again. 

Sophie and I had the chance during our recent visit to Kurdistan. We first met Shaida and her parents surprisingly at a screening which was done by two American cardiologists in order to find new candidates for open heart surgery and follow up on post operative children. Since Shaida's home is close, her parents seized the opportunity and came for an echocardiogram of Shaida's heart. It was a very joyful reunion with Shaida and her mother, who still remembers everyone by name and keeps the memories also alive for her daughter. After two years, Shaida had grown up quite a bit. Initially, she seemed shy and withdrawn, but it didn't take much time to also see her other side. While she was in the examination room, one of the doctors teased her, and as a response little Shaida started yelling at him for it felt like two minutes without ceasing. How could he dare talk to her like that? She is grown up now and not a small baby anymore! Everyone in the room paused with what they were doing and listened, astounded by this sudden outburst. Even though I didn't understand most of it, I could feel that Shaida was outraged. It took a while to calm her down. The doctors then proceeded with the echocardiogram and diagnosed a stenosis in her pulmonary artery. That requires a diagnostic catheterization in the next couple of months which can be done in Kurdistan. Shaida and her parents did not leave before having made sure that we would come to visit them during our remaining time in Kurdistan. 

The opportunity arose this past Tuesday. Since it is the time of Ramadan, we decided to go to their home for an evening visit. Dr. Hiwa, a local doctor who also knows Shaida well, kindly accompanied us. We were welcomed warmly by Shaida's family that consists of four more siblings. Shaida is the youngest child and the beloved little sister. It was especially her older sisters who treated her with much love and care. For dinner we went out for a picnic. Shaida's mother and sisters prepared the drinks and cups. The food was provided by a restaurant close next to the picnic site. Shaida quickly discovered a swing that captured her time for quite a while. 

After dinner we went back to their home, where we enjoyed some fruit. We were talking for a while and just as we prepared to leave, Shaida came out of the house with a laptop under her arm. Her mother told us that she loves to watch the picture DVD from their time in Israel that they received on the day of her farewell party. Shaida now wanted to watch it with us. It was sweet to observe her. She was sitting on the ground, her doll in her arm, staring at the screen while the pictures passed by. She was totally focused, as we watched pictures of her time in the ICU after her heart surgeries or when she was in the park during an outing with other families.

Shaida seems much older than her three-and-a-half years. One volunteer in Israel once described her as an "old soul". She is a special and beautiful little girl with a strong personality. I am so thankful that we were able to see her again.

While I was writing this update, my phone was ringing, and when I answered I heard my little friend in Kurdish saying I love you. Of course, this warmed my heart. May there be more phone calls and visits in the future.

A Long-Awaited Day

Posted on Wed, 04/17/2013 - 20:22 by Ruth Zellweger

Exactly four months have passed since Shaida and her mother entered Israeli territory, and ever since then there have been many ups and downs to their story. But now, looking back at these four months, Shaida

Finding Strength

Posted on Mon, 04/08/2013 - 22:08 by Sophie H.

I spent all day with our chubby Shaida. Her mum always says,

Welcome Home Shaida

Posted on Tue, 04/02/2013 - 22:02 by Kristina Kayser

Today was a day of rejoicing for beautiful Shaida and her mum. This was primarily due to the fact that doctors deemed her worthy to leave the hospital nearly two weeks after surgery. Johanna, Sophie, and I arrived early this morning to find all three Kurdish families in hospital sleeping soundly. Once Shaida woke up and went through her daily routine of breakfast, physical assessment, and bath time, we were off to the echo department. Shaida's mother was already optimistic for today's outcome and seemed more than ready to leave Wolfson.

Dr. Godfrey, a resident in training from Tanzania, was waiting for us when we arrived. He has taken quite a liking to Shaida and has earned the gift of her trust. He let her play with his phone, which had several photos of her saved on it. Since the senior cardiologist was busy for some time, Dr. Godfrey took the opportunity to examine Shaida and get some echo practice in. Thankfully for him, Shaida was the perfect patient for the next forty minutes and even fell asleep during the exam. At one point, he looked down at her and said, "I love you Shaida. Do you know that?" My heart melted. When the "real" echo began, she exuded far more compliance than usual for a one-year-old. One hour and three doctors later, the prognosis was as follows: Shaida's heart is growing stronger daily, no excess fluid is present in her chest cavity, and all surgical repairs are presently in tact.

Furthermore, a condition she developed post-op, known as chylothorax, resolved much sooner than expected. Chylothorax is a rare negative response to heart surgery involving a surplus production of fatty fluids. For the last week, Shaida has required a non-fat diet treatment, including special milk that did not agree with her palate. Dr. Tamir, however, announced that the fluids have subsided and food restrictions are ended. I for one am happy that even after a strict diet, Shaida's chubby cheeks are none the worse for wear.  

As we made our way home to Jerusalem, Shaida's mother wore an expression of relief. Time in the hospital had wearied her, but the the knowledge that she and her baby girl were one step closer to home was medicine for her soul. As the two of them stepped across the threshold of our old stone courtyard, the reunion was sweet indeed. Everyone came running out to hug and congratulate them. We praise God that Shaida and her mother are sheltered beneath our roof once more. May the Lord continue to shine His face upon them with each passing day.

One Step Closer

Posted on Fri, 03/29/2013 - 15:32 by Ruth Zellweger

When I stuck my head into the secondary ICU today to visit my precious little friend Shaida, I was taken by surprise. Her bed was empty, as was Jwana

Shaida Moved to Secondary ICU

Posted on Thu, 03/28/2013 - 17:11 by Eilin Midtbo

I was a bit anxious yesterday when we were driving to the hospital to visit Shaida again. When we left her on Monday she looked so peaceful, but later that evening we found out that she had a fever and was vomiting a little bit, so I did not know what to expect. Driving there traffic was really busy, and it felt as if it took forever to get there. We finally parked the car and walked into the hospital.  You cannot imagine my joy when we found that Shaida was transferred from ICU to intermediate ICU. She no longer needed supplementary oxygen. Her echo showed that there was no more fluid around her lungs and her heart was adjusting well. When we walked into the room, Shaida was sitting up in the bed with her stuffed animals all around her.

Her big brown eyes were looking around and she would sometimes take hold of one of the toys and examine it. Her mother was so relieved and all smiles while we were there. When the nurse told us that Shaida could begin eating solid foods, her mother right away found an orange, peeled it and began feeding Shaida small pieces at a time. Shaida seemed to enjoy it a lot, and kept reaching for more until she had eaten almost the whole orange. We had a wonderful time there, visiting with the mother and enjoying our time with Shaida. When we left Shaida, she was laying down almost ready to fall asleep.  While driving back, her sweet face was on my mind, and I was giving thanks to the Lord for the wonderful privilege He has given me to experience His healing hands on His beloved child Shaida.

Shaida's Point of Safety

Posted on Mon, 03/25/2013 - 17:50 by Eilin Midtbo

Today I had the awesome opportunity to go to the hospital to visit the two children who had their surgery last week.  As we were driving over there, I was thinking of little Shaida whom I had seen for the first time just the night before she was leaving for the hospital. She was a beautiful little girl who was crawling and taking a few steps around the apartment upstairs. Since that day she has been through so much and I was really excited to see how she was doing. When we walked into the ICU she was almost asleep, so peaceful and calm that had it not been for all the hospital equipment, tubes and needles, I would not have thought for a second that she had open heart surgery just a few days earlier.

Her mom was sitting by her bed, tired but relieved that her precious daughter was recovering. The day before the doctors extubated her, so now she receives some oxygen from a nasal cannula. Earlier today they had to put in a second chest tube to drain fluid around her heart. While we were there she woke up again. She was mostly quiet, only crying a little bit when the nurse was doing some work around her or if she lost her pacifier. When she woke up her mother was able to give her some milk and was relieved that she drank some without any problems, as were the nurses. Her eyes kept gazing at her mother who was sitting right next to her, and at one point she stretched her hand toward her. I was thinking of how her mother is her point of safety during all this, because she has no way of knowing what is happening to her. To me that is a perfect picture of how our point of safety is our Father, who is always right next to us. It was such a blessing for me to see all that has been done and is still being done for this precious child, and I am looking forward to seeing her crawl and walk around the apartment again.

Shaida Mending Well

Posted on Sun, 03/24/2013 - 10:49 by Kristina Kayser

A blustery sandy wind followed us all the way down the mountain towards Tel Aviv on Friday. By the time Johann and I reached Wolfson, the sky was a shade of latte and stray leaves littered the foyer. While the weather howled outside, within the hospital walls felt like the eye of the storm. The hush of Pesach had fallen and normally busy hallways and wards lay silent. Further peace was felt when I found Jwana and Shaida's mothers soon after arriving. The woman were praying and resting in a room for mothers just outside of ICU. I presumed this indicative of the trust they had for the medical staff in caring for their precious daughters. Otherwise, both mothers would have been glued to their child's bedside.

Shaida was now one day post-op, and her mother bore a smile of relief and joy with just a hint of weariness. She jumped up when she saw me and was delighted to find that I had brought gifts for her and Shaida. Since they had missed our big celebration of Newroz (the Kurdish new year) in Jerusalem, our community wanted to make sure they knew they weren't forgotten. Shaida's mother had a such a gracious spirit as she asked me all about the day, if we had gone outside for a picnic, and so on. It was apparent that the completed surgery and well-being of her daughter was all she needed to be perfectly content.

Nurses quietly busied themselves in ICU, moving from bed to bed. Meanwhile, Shaida lay in a sedated slumber, her creamy eyelids gently taped closed. All of her vital signs appear stable in addition to her ventilator-regulated respirations. I asked the nurse about the estimated time for Shaida to be taken off the ventilator and aroused. They hoped to extubate her this past Saturday, giving her body a little more time to rest and adjust to the surgical changes. Shaida's mother also reported having seen the surgeon, Dr. Sasson, this morning, who said her daughter was doing well.

The five and a half hour operation to correct Tetralogy of Fallot, looks to have been a wonderful success. My heart rejoices today in God's gentle love towards Shaida. Once again, I am reminded of His ability and willingness to make "everything beautiful in its time" (Ecc. 3:11).

A New Year and a New Heart

Posted on Thu, 03/21/2013 - 21:26 by Linn Magnusson

This surgery day for Shaida was a gift from God. It also turned out to be a good and happy day. When we arrived at the hospital this morning, Ruth, Johanna and I came just in time to accompany Shaida to the operating room. She had just woken up and was adorable as usual. I was able to give her one last hug before she, her mother and Ruth went off to the pre-operation waiting room.