Yara's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Yara for Surgery Tomorrow

Posted on Sun, 09/01/2013 - 22:48 by Philip Rasmussen

A sudden phone call from the hospital brought good news for our ‘veteran’ child, Yara, who has been here a little more than two and a half months. Tomorrow Yara is having her second heart surgery! We gathered in the courtyard, volunteers and families, and prayed for this next step that Yara and her mother are going to face. It is a beautiful tradition of Shevet - to send our Kurdish families going out with prayer and love. In the car heading to the hospital, Yara’s mother shared with us how she is approaching this new step emotionally. She said, “I’m sad ‘cause I don’t like to stay in the hospital, but it’s good for Yara.” This is a pretty common statement heard from our mothers, but their selfless mindsets never cease to amaze me. Please pray for patience among the mothers here as they focus on their children’s needs.

Yara behaved very cheerfully the whole time, which lasted just until she saw the baby bed with the security bars – or from her point of view; the prison. She calmed down again after some time and we tried to amuse her in different ways while we waited for one of the nurses to come and write down her admission details. When she finally arrived, the nurse told us that Yara most likely will be the first child scheduled for surgery early tomorrow morning. During the surgery, they planning on opening her pulmonary arteries.

Praise God, Yara’s father has arrived safely here in Israel tonight after coming all the way from Kurdistan to support his family during this time. It is for sure a great and welcoming encouragement to Yara’s mother.

Yara Back at Shevet!

Posted on Thu, 08/15/2013 - 21:52 by Rahel Eschler
Late this morning, after our daily prayer meeting, we left Jerusalem to pick up Yara, who was going to be discharged today. After the one hour trip, which we have already gotten very used to, we met her in the pediatric ward where she recovered from a urine tract infection.
We found her sitting on her bed all on her own, enjoying herself. The mother already told us the other day about the good news. She was very overwhelmed that her daughter sat the first time upright without any help. So now we could bear witness to one of the many important steps to come in her development. After talking to the nurse, we accompanied Yara and her mother to one last ultrasound. At the beginning of the examination, Yara cried while the doctor was checking on her bladder and kidneys. But after awhile, she found interest in her bottle, which made it easier for everyone. The fact is that Yara will need a surgery to repair her kidneys and urinary system in about a month. So back in the ward, we needed to wait for the report of the nephrologist. We spent another two hours together by waiting patiently for Yara to get discharged. Somehow we didn’t get bored at all. We were entertaining Yara with all our passion and different spontaneous ideas.
Yara’s mother put Yara's new clothes on her, which she bought during this hospital stay. Yara looked very cute in it and on her T-shirt the letters said “Bon Voyage = Good trip”. After a long day we all returned tired but with a joyful heart back home to Shevet Achim. Although Yara needs a urology surgery and a heart surgery to open up her pulmonary arteries in just about two weeks, we are all glad to have her back in our community. Her mum is a little bit sad that they are not able to go home very soon, but she is coping quite well with all the things coming up in the near future. We pray that God will be their provider and comforter through all things and give the strength and hope for the next stay at the hospital.     

Unexpected Results

Posted on Tue, 08/13/2013 - 00:23 by Jesse Tilman

When they came to prepare Yara for her catheterization this morning, we were more than ready. They took her vital signs and we packed up to go to the 4th floor catheterization room. The nurse there helped us explain to Yara’s mother the consent papers she was signing to go ahead with the procedure. Letting her daughter be wheeled away was tough, and she returned from seeing her off crying. We stayed a few minutes just sitting down outside the catheterization lab and then moved to a waiting room nearby.

Two hours goes by slowly when you are thinking of a little loved one. We helped her pass the time asking questions about her life back home and hearing her thoughts about life in Israel. Just before the two hour mark, we heard the beeping of heart machines on a mobile bed and looked up to see them wheeling Yara to the ICU. We got up quickly and walked with them. They had to stabilize her so we soon left the room.

In the waiting room, the nurse came by and told us that Yara was doing well and the procedure had gone smoothly. Then the doctor came out and explained further. Yara had two arteries that were the subject of manipulation during the procedure due to severe stenosis. They had been able to enlarge one with a balloon angioplasty. The other artery had not been able to be widened at the time as it was too narrow. It seems that this artery still needs time to grow and widen on it’s own before it can be manipulated. Her future treatment plan is still undecided at the time, but it is likely that will need additional intervention - most likely surgical. The mention of another medical procedure for Yara was too much for her mother to take. With her small amount of English she understood the doctor and immediately began to wail and cry. I told him we would explain it to her and he left us to console her. It took a while for her to find her equilibrium again and by then we could rejoin Yara in the ICU room.

There we were able to pray for them again and care for their spirits as well as their bodies. Despite the news about Yara’s need for future medical intervention, her oxygen level is now around 95%! After the anesthesia wore off, she woke up momentarily and then quickly noded off again. We explained the proper care for her after she had woken up and for the next few hours till she was back to normal. Soon we could leave and we said heartfelt goodbyes.

Yara Admitted to Hospital

Posted on Mon, 08/05/2013 - 21:49 by Rahel Eschler

Yesterday evening, Yara wasn’t feeling well at all. She slept, cried a lot, and had very glassy looking eyes. Upon taking her temperature, we found out that she was running a high fever. So we decided to take her to the hospital right away. That meant an unexpected ride to Tel Aviv late in the evening. It was most likely a urinary tract infection causing her high fever. Once we arrived at the hospital, they gave Yara some antibiotics. When we visited Yara today, she was already feeling better - although she still doesn’t like to see any doctors or nurses. She gets scared by them quiet easily – poor little girl.

The doctors still don’t know yet if they can perform Yara’s catheterization which was scheduled for tomorrow. We all need to be patient in waiting for her medical condition to improve. In the meantime, please pray that Yara and her mother would feel God’s love and grace upon them.  

A Day of Highs and Lows

Posted on Tue, 07/30/2013 - 22:12 by Jesse Tilman
Yara’s day had some highs and lows. We started out by heading to the beach since we found the echo appointment to be for a later time than previously thought. The morning weather was good in usually-hot-Tel Aviv, and the foaming waves cooled Yara's toes as her mother dipped her in. She watched a passing wind-surfer go by. Soon we prepared to leave. As her mother changed her diaper, she called Muna to come take a look at some reddish blood-like liquid that appeared. This alarmed us, and we called the Shevet nurse, who began to make an appointment for a urinalysis.
In the pediatric center for congenital heart-defects, we began the process of paper-work, preliminary check-ups, waiting, and the urine test. Waiting for a baby to pee is a unique experience! The nurse suggested that we run some water over Yara's feet because that sometimes works. She just screamed. Twenty minutes later, after some down-time, she finally produced. We will have the results tomorrow and hope that the redness is only caused by her medication that has already been reduced.
Yara took a long time to settle down for what we thought would be her last echo. The technician finally just had her lay in her mother’s arms and vetted her there. The doctor’s inspection and opinion differed from her last examination; he thinks it would be better for her to stay another two weeks and continue to heal under their watch. A catheterization that was previously thought to be a few years out could possibly be done in that time as well. The pediatric cardiologists will have a meeting tomorrow and decide what to do.
Yara's mother took this news hard and teared up as we left. As I watched her inform her family of the changes by Skype tonight in Jerusalem, I could see she was adjusting to it. Yara, meanwhile, was happily playing with the earphone cords. May they find new strength in the days ahead.

Yara's Progress Continues

Posted on Tue, 07/16/2013 - 22:42 by Kristina Kayser

Yara is one beautiful little girl. Her little round face and bright eyes are framed by a mop of wispy brown curls. Add to this a loveable personality, and it's no wonder she is adored by all who know her. Our community has truly enjoyed her presence while watching her progress at home over the last two weeks. Slowly, but surely, Yara continues to heal from open heart surgery. Pink cheeks and increased energy testify to oxygen levels in the 90's. Thus, it was with great anticipation that we arrived at Sheba's echo department today. This follow-up visit was her first since being discharged from the hospital on July 7th.

Did I mention that Yara was an intelligent and perceptive child in addition to being beautiful? Straight away, she recognized the unpopular exam room and ultrasound probe. Yara burst into tears and continued crying for the duration of the exam, aside from a brief intermission to drink some milk. The cardiologist had his work cut out for him, but finally succeeded in completing his evaluation. Yara's mother waited anxiously for the prognosis, trying hard to contain her concern. "What did he say?" she asked me, before even a word had been spoken to us.

The room grew perfectly still as the doctor skimmed over medical reports and jotted down notes. Even Yara was sitting as quiet as a mouse on her mother's lap. The ensuing report, while promising, was not what Yara's mother was hoping to hear. Following a difficult surgery for a complex condition, Yara's heart is healing well overall. The doctor is optimistic that she will soon begin to grow and thrive. One issue, however, is yet to be resolved. Due to very small pulmonary vessels, residual high pressure still exists in her right ventricle. These arteries need time to grow (ideally 3-4 years) before being ready for further treatment. This treatment will most likely be in the form of a balloon stent via cardiac catheterization.

The doctor's prognosis brought on an unexpected wave of discouragement, and hot tears spilled from Yara's mother's eyes. Her hope, I believe, was that this journey to Israel would be the finish line to her daughter's heart treatment. After talking through the many positive aspects of Yara's current condition, her mother's perspective brightened. In two weeks time, Yara will have her final echo at Sheba and be ready to return home. Please pray that hope will be pervasive as we trust in God's faithful and complete healing of Yara!

A Full House

Posted on Sun, 07/07/2013 - 21:58 by Kaytlin Butler

We are so excited to have Yara and her parents back home with us in Jerusalem! After a brief echo this morning, Yara was discharged from Sheba this afternoon. The doctors said she is recovering well, and they would like to see her again for a follow up echo next week. Yara continues to be a happy and playful baby throughout this entire process. Every time I see her, I am floored and humbled by the resilience of such a small child. She is one incredible little girl.

While we waited for Yara to be officially discharged, her parents hosted us in their hospital room as though we were sitting in their home. Ruth offered everyone cookies while Yara's mother served tea, and the rest of us joked around. The combination of excitement and caffeine made even a sterile hospital room feel like a cozy family gathering.

With Yara finally home, we are enjoying a full house tonight at Shevet! It was so nice to leave the hospital knowing that we were not leaving any of our kids behind. We are so blessed.

Please continue to pray for progress in Yara's recovery!

Strength in Our Shortcomings

Posted on Wed, 07/03/2013 - 21:37 by Sarah Powell

We entered the hospital today and were enthusiastically greeted by Yara’s parents. In just a few short days, their daughter has gotten out of the ICU, skipped right over intermediate ICU, and is now in the children's ward. Her parent's are very happy about this, and said they are eagerly looking forward to returning to Jerusalem soon.

Yara's father is planning to go back to Kurdistan next week, leaving his wife and daughter here to finish the recovery process. When Ruth humorously protested his plans – a protest we all felt because of the great times we have had with him – he replied simply, “No. I can go because you are my brothers and sisters, and I believe in the people at Shevet. So I can leave my wife and daughter here without me.”

I was amazed at the profundity and simplicity of this statement. In some moments – many moments – the sentiment has been expressed by different staff and volunteers at Shevet that we feel inadequate and unable to help or love these families the way that we would like to. Yet with his simple statement, Yara's father confirmed what we all know but so often find hard to believe – in our weakness, we are made strong because that is when Messiah is able to show Himself powerful through us. Even though we struggle and stumble in our efforts to love and serve, Messiah is able to use those shortcomings for His glory. He is able to use those shortcomings and move a loving father to entrust his family to us because we are his brothers and sisters, and he believes in us.

So today I am thankful not only for a beautiful little girl moving quickly along the road to recovery, but also for a God who uses the weak things to shame the strong, and the inadequate ones to be a blessing despite all the failings that stand in the way. Thank you, Lord, for your grace.

A Speedy Recovery

Posted on Tue, 07/02/2013 - 23:22 by Ruth Zellweger

Before I came to serve with Shevet, I had worked as a nurse with adults. They usually need their time to recover after a medical intervention. With children, however, it took me a while to get used to the fact that they often recuperate more quickly, and it still amazes me every time I am able to witness this.

Our sweet little Yara only had her open heart surgery yesterday, but by midnight was already breathing on her own. And today her chest tube was removed. Yet it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Yara showed signs of being in  pain, and is receiving medication for this. I was able to talk on the phone with her nurse and her dear parents, and they all told me that Yara is doing well.

Both of her parents are so thankful that their precious daughter is making such good progress. May her healing continue, and that she and her parents may return to Jerusalem soon.

The Power of Moments Shared

Posted on Tue, 07/02/2013 - 01:22 by Philip Rasmussen

At noon today we were taken by surprise when we suddenly received a phone call that Yara had gone in for surgery. As you could imagine, the parents of the children are anxious – often to a very uncomfortable degree – on surgery day. In light of this, we want to be there in the midst of their unease, and speak truth and hope into their lives. This happened to be my task today, which I find I am very grateful for as I reflect on all that happened.

You have probably heard the high-flown words, “I received so much more than I gave.” Whether these words are always said with sincerity or not, today I noticed they aroused a deep feeling inside of me. I enjoy spending time with Yara’s parents. They are two wonderful people who, with warm hearts and genuine interest, seek to interact with everyone around them.

Before they entered Israel, Yara’s parents had to wait for a week in Jordan due to visa delays, and I was right there with them. It was an intense week as they were a little disappointed about their unexpected stay in Jordan. But in many ways, it was a very fruitful time as well, with a lot of laughter and many enjoyable moments. One of the greatest sources of laughter was when Yara’s father, who speaks some English, would translate my enthusiasm about the Kurdish food into the complete opposite to the mothers who cooked it. We also laughed when we would gather around the table to have tea and eat different kinds of nuts, and the Kurds were masters at getting the nut out with just their teeth – but I certainly lacked this skill.

The same laughter and sweet moments filled the waiting room today, alongside moments of restlessness. It is a powerful thing to sit there and share in their emotions. At one point they went through the pictures on my camera of their time in Jordan. They came across this picture (see above), which was taken on our way through Jordan Valley down to the border crossing. As they looked at the photo, they were smiling and excited about how pretty their daughter appeared, saying loudly to each other in Kurdish, “She is so beautiful!” I also saw their joy turn to worry as they thought about their beautiful little girl on the operating table. It became very clear to me that, during this waiting time, the parents go through the entire emotional register.

Finally – after five long hours of separation – mother, father, and child were reunited. They received the wonderful news that Yara now has a normal beating heart inside of her – she succeeded in her full repair! Relief and gratefulness were clearly shown by both parents who were finally able to see their daughter in a stable condition. However, it is still a step of faith for them to watch Yara, so tiny and fragile, attached to various medical devices. All they can do is entrust her to her Creator and His hands on earth, which we see in Sheba’s excellent medical staff. Let us all take this step of faith tonight and ask God to continue his watch over Yara.