Sham's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Sham's First Hospital Day in Israel

Posted on Mon, 07/18/2011 - 23:46 by Kristina Kayser

I have come to learn that hospital visits are always more than just a lineup of appointments and examinations. They undoubtedly provide precious opportunities to build friendships with children and their accompanying parent. Today allowed me that privilege with Sham and her mother. 
I wondered how Sham would respond to various nurses and doctors assessing her, as last night required quite a bit of coaxing just for the introduction of my stethoscope. Initially, she wore an expression of uncertainty with frequent glances towards her mother for affirmation. Every so often, a shy smile would spread across her face. She was nervous but very brave. The blood sample required for lab work drew loud protests from this small-framed girl. Nevertheless, bubbles served as the perfect antidote, and tears were quickly dried. 
Sham's mother reminded me of a newscaster today, camera ever-ready, wanting each moment documented for later review. During the echocardiogram, her mother's face was a mix of fascination and anxiety as the doctor gently moved the ultrasound probe across Sham's chest. Prior to this 2D imagery exam, Sham was given a gentle sedative so that she slept throughout the procedure. 
The doctor confirmed a large Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) as well as something quite unusual. Her right ventricle has a double chamber, meaning there's an extra wall of muscle dividing the chamber in two. Dr. Alona was unalarmed, however, stating that the VSD repair would not be difficult, and the excess cardiac muscle would simply be removed. After explaining this to Sham's mother, her tension eased so much that she too enjoyed a nap while her daughter's sedative wore off. Before long, Sham was awake and ready to ride back to Jerusalem. 
I hope today was the first of many occasions to become acquainted with Sham, whose light-hearted nature is a natural remedy to any ordinary day.  

Sham's Smile Debuts in Israel

Posted on Sun, 07/17/2011 - 23:41 by Kristina Kayser

Every child that comes to Israel for heart surgery is a testimony of God's grace, and Sham is no exception. It is evident that this precocious three-year-old has a beautiful future in front of her. I watched with delight as Sham made an ordinary waiting room a giant playground. Though no one was chasing her, Sham ran back and forth across the floor in an imaginary game of tag, giggling unabashedly. Her mother, content to see her daughter happy, smiled and laughed as well. 
As we waited for passports to be processed at Israel's border, Sham sat down on the floor and took out a Kurdish New Testament from her bag. She then spread it on her lap and began "reading" a passage out loud with great enthusiasm. I could not understand what Sham was saying, but I have no doubt she meant it with all her heart! 
Speaking of her heart, Sham is need of an operation that will correct a condition called Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD). Essentially, there is an opening in her two lower cardiac chambers that creates poor functioning and ultimately threatens her life. Doctors at Wolfson Hospital will evaluate Sham tomorrow morning, bringing her one step closer to having a healed heart. There is no limit to what God can do for this little girl, who so obviously loves life!