Shaida's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

A Dream Come True

Posted on Wed, 03/20/2013 - 21:22 by Kristina Kayser

The last two weeks for Shaida's mother have been a roller coaster of emotions. One day, Shaida is on the surgery schedule, and the next day, she's not. And so the story has repeated itself several times. Patience was wearing thin, not to mention trust. As those in our Shevet community needed our own boost of faith, we rallied around this dear baby and mum, trusting that God's timing was perfect. Many tears have been shed and repeated declarations to return to Kurdistan have been made on account of waiting. My heart ached for this woman so desperate to return to home and family. At the end of every conversation, I tried to point the way to the Lord as our greatest hope for the future.

On Sunday last, I received an unexpected piece of good news: Shaida was once again on the surgery schedule for Sunday, March 24th. This would be the last opportunity to have surgery before the week-long Passover holiday beginning Monday. While thankful for this information, I also felt hesitant to share it with Shaida's mother, knowing full well that plans could change again. Relief like a glass of cool lemonade on a summer's day came to Shaida's mother upon hearing the latest word from the hospital. She also understood the degree of uncertainty involved, and handled her hope as one does with something fragile.

God continued to demonstrate His faithfulness towards Shaida with yet another surprise this morning. Dr. Alona called me early to say that a surgery tomorrow had been canceled and that we should bring Shaida to Wolfson straightaway. I paused for a moment, checking to see if I had heard correctly. "Really?" I asked. "Yes! Really!" Dr. Alona chuckled. I was already at the hospital for Jwana's surgery, so I quickly phoned Ruth to deliver the message. By the time, Shaida and her mother arrived on scene, their joy was contagious. Everything about this mother exuded buoyancy and confidence. Jwana's mother was even drawn away from her anxious thoughts to rejoice with her friend. Moreover, Shaida's admission was an all together pleasant process, save the pain of a needle poke and IV start.

Once the nurses and pediatrician completed the required assessments, we sat down for a few quiet minutes. In this moment, Shaida's mother began to share a profound experience she had last night. She dreamed that she was in Kurdistan, standing in Dr. Aso's office. Dr. Aso is a local cardiologist and was the first one to diagnose Shaida and recommend heart surgery in Israel. Shaida's mum told him how long they have been away from home and how much she wanted to return. He then told her that it wasn't time to come home yet and she needed to wait. When she asked him when the surgery would be, Dr. Aso replied that it would be in March and not to worry because it would take place very soon. My response to her was that this dream was a gift from God, whose purpose was to build her faith and help her not to be afraid. A beautiful smile spread across her face as she thought about this in light of Dr. Alona's invitation this morning. Together, we praised God for His good gifts and the way her dream was being fulfilled.

Shaida soon fell asleep in her mother's arms, a picture of peace. How I have fallen in love with this baby girl with long dark lashes, bright eyes, and kissable cheeks. God has truly answered our prayers for Shaida! And as we look toward tomorrow's surgery day, there are three things which remain: faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Taking Comfort at the Seaside

Posted on Wed, 02/27/2013 - 11:42 by Cassandra Colon

Today we took Shaida and her mother to Wolfson Hospital for a long-awaited meeting with Israel

A Matter of the Heart

Posted on Mon, 02/25/2013 - 21:38 by Ruth Zellweger

Shaida is a gorgeous little girl. Whoever meets her comes ultimately to this conclusion. Her soft hair, the chubby cheeks, and her sudden outbreaks of laughter win a person

Baby Steps for Shaida

Posted on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 19:46 by Kristina Kayser

Shaida is making "baby steps" in more ways than one these days. If you spend some time with her, you'll be quick to notice her growing confidence in standing on her own and trying to walk. It's beautiful to watch her strength and joy increase, and God is answering our prayers before our very eyes. Meanwhile, beneath the unseen matrix of skin, bone, and muscle, something equally beautiful is happening. Slowly but surely, Shaida's heart is also taking "baby steps." After her surgery, Shaida's pulmonary artery was not responding the way doctors had hoped. Taking simple breaths was taxing, and it was assumed that she would soon need a second preliminary surgery. Today's echo exam, however, further confirmed that the tables are turning in Shaida's favor. Her pulmonary artery continues to open, millimeter by millimeter, providing greater blood flow and oxygen between her heart and lungs. Our hope is that with enough improvement, Shaida's heart can sustain a full repair in the near future. Nothing is too difficult for the Lord! The doctors rejoiced with us in Shaida's progress, both internal and external. While her mother was thankful that the echo went well, the burden of waiting still lies heavy on her shoulders. As you pray for Shaida's healing, pray also for her mother to know the perfect love of God that is able to cast out all fear.

Shaida's Back in Town

Posted on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 18:42 by Kristina Kayser

After being admitted to Wolfson Hospital yesterday afternoon, Shaida's visit was, thankfully, a brief one. Both she and her mother spent an uneventful night in the children's ward and were ready to go home by this morning. The purpose of their stay was simply observatory, but it was beneficial in the event that Shaida had a repeat cyanotic spell and needed treatment. While no reason was determined for her recent spells, the doctors felt confident to release her once again. Her oxygen levels are improving almost daily, and she is playful and content as ever. As Shaida's mother packed their bags, Shaida looked at me with her bright eyes and grin as if to say, "Let's get this show on the road!" Dr. Alona restated her hope that Shaida may be ready to receive a full surgical repair in two weeks time. In the meantime, weekly echo exams will mark her progress, and we will keep a close eye on her at home. Additionally, we get to enjoy her chubby cheeks and sweet nature a little longer. We rejoice that Shaida and her mother are back in Jerusalem with us! May God's grace abound toward this mother and baby as we trust Him for perfect healing. 

Shaida Readmitted

Posted on Wed, 02/13/2013 - 21:12 by Ruth Zellweger

Although she has been visibly improving over the last week, little Shaida had to be readmitted at Wolfson Hospital today because of two cyanotic spells (she turned blue and lost consciousness) she has experienced since Monday evening.  When Kristina contacted the cardiologists at the hospital in the morning, they told us to bring Shaida in for a thorough check-up. When we arrived, one of Shaida

Unexpected Outcome for Shaida

Posted on Mon, 02/11/2013 - 20:18 by Kristina Kayser

Before even entering the echo room this afternoon, Shaida's mother was in tears. The contours of her face were etched with anxiety as she braced herself for disappointment. I hugged this fearful woman and realized what a dear friend she has become. Her eyes searched my own for something she couldn't conceive of: hope. "What if Shaida needs another surgery right away? I miss my home! I need to be with my children." Her voice quivered with each word. In turn, I searched for a sufficient response. 

Over the last two weeks since Shaida was discharged, our community has seen incredible improvement in her. Her labored breathing has become calm and rhythmic. Her oxygen saturation has increased, and the blueness in her lips and fingers has abated. Overall, Shaida has been a much happier baby with energy enough to crawl about and even experiment with the art of walking. And while each of these external symptoms are positive, today's echo would reveal if the internal workings of Shaida's heart were equally noteworthy. 

Just before Shaida was called into the echo room, I shared a thought with her mother: whatever the outcome of the exam, God is great and He is able to give new strength every day to meet our needs. Nothing is too difficult for Him, particularly with things we find most overwhelming. Shaida's mother repeated the words "Xua gowre" ("God is great!"), willing herself to believe this was true. The door to the echo room opened, and we were on our feet in a moment. 

The echo technician meticulously studied every facet of Shaida's heart. Meanwhile, our patient vacillated between crying and laughing. One minute Shaida was protesting the ultrasound probe in tears, and the next, she was talking to a toy bear and chuckling to herself. We were all amused, to say the least. In the end, the news was different than any of us had expected. Dr. Alona was pleasantly surprised with how well Shaida's pulmonary artery is functioning. She reasons that a second preliminary surgery may not be necessary and that Shaida may not need to return in a year for a conclusive operation. Rather, it is possible that Shaida may be prepared to have a full repair in the coming month. Dr. Alona will continue to monitor her progress in the next fortnight and consult with Wolfson's cardiology team on a final decision.  

While disappointment composed part of the response to this report, relief more so. It was difficult for Shaida's mother to consider staying in Israel longer, but she was thankful to know the end of their journey may be in sight. Suddenly, two surgeries, rather than three, sounded much better. Together, we rejoiced in God's grace toward Shaida and enjoyed a picnic lunch in the sunshine. May we continue to be surprised by new mercies daily as we trust in our heavenly Father who "has done all things well." (Mark 7:37).  

Shaida's First Follow-Up Echo

Posted on Mon, 02/04/2013 - 19:41 by Ruth Zellweger

This last week has not been easy for Shaida or her mother. Whenever I have gone to check on Shaida, or to just spend time with her, it has been obvious that she was not feeling well. Her difficulties with breathing have not ceased. And at night, her breathing becomes especially labored. Shaida

An Old Soul Returns to Jerusalem

Posted on Sun, 01/27/2013 - 21:39 by Kristina Kayser

Shaida may be merely one year old, but if you looked long and hard into her big brown eyes, you would recognize at once that she is an "old soul." What I mean by this is that she seems to be grown up on the inside. While most toddlers need to be constantly entertained, Shaida is easily contented and often plays by herself. I often catch her quietly looking around, like she's taking mental notes of her surroundings. She's quite a perceptive and intelligent little girl. Today was one of those times when our eyes met and I thought, "I wish you could speak and tell me what you're thinking right now." I have no doubt it would have been profound. 

Long before I reached Wolfson Hospital this afternoon, Shaida's mother was in a quandary. Her voice came across the phone in stunted fragments, broken by sobs. Shaida had just finished an echo, and the results were not as hoped for. Dr. Tamir then came on the line to relay the details of the exam. In addition to having acquired three respiratory viruses in recent days, Shaida's heart is struggling after the preliminary surgery. The problem lies in her right ventricle and pulmonary artery, with the latter causing further respiratory distress due to its narrowed state. Dr. Tamir further stated that unless Shaida's heart shows significant improvement in the next two weeks, she will most likely require another surgery before returning to Kurdistan. 

This news was too much for Shaida's mum to bear. She was still weeping when Jesse, Linn, and I arrived an hour later. After further explaining the situation, she sat down dejected. With words of hope and love, we gathered around her. And as I hugged her, I wanted so much to transfer the hope I held from my heart to hers. The one bright spot for Shaida's mum was the news that she and her daughter could return with us to continue recuperation in Jerusalem. For most of the ride home, Shaida sat wide awake with a sagacious expression. She looked first to her disheartened mom as if to say, "I know how you feel, but we're in this together." When her gaze met my own, I felt her eyes pleading, "Won't you help me?" 

As our community seeks to rally around Shaida and her mum, we do so with this simple truth: We cannot produce the love they need. Rather, we are conduits of God's love, freely giving what we've been given. And the source is inexhaustible. Would you join us in praying for this mother and baby to experience the richness of God's love and compassion for them in the coming days. Isaiah 40:11 "He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young."

With A Lung Infection, Shaida In Isolation

Posted on Fri, 01/25/2013 - 16:22 by Johanna J

For a couple days Shaida