Zhino 's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Surgery Should Be "Easy"

Posted on Wed, 06/04/2008 - 01:00 by Gigi

Zhino had her catheterization today. I visited her afterwards, and talked with Dr. Tamir. He said that her surgery should be an easy one, and will be scheduled soon.

Mixed Emotions

Posted on Tue, 06/03/2008 - 01:00 by Andrew_Peck

Zhino was admitted to the hospital today for her catheterization tomorrow. Lately she has felt very left out as her friends have been admitted for their surgeries, and she has stayed behind in Jerusalem.

Zhino was very excited to be going to the hospital even though she is a little more fearful than some of the other children.

Staff member Hank adds:

Today was the day that Zhino has been waiting for. Shevet staff received a call from the hospital asking that Zhino be there by 3pm to prepare for her heart catheterization. Our family had the privilege of transporting her and her mother on the 45-minute drive from Jerusalem to Holon. As we rode along, I would periodically turn around to snap some pictures. One impression stood out in my mind. Though we come from very different cultures, home environments and the like, one thing is the same: the love of a mother for her child and that same love being reciprocated from child to parent. Initially Zhino was excited that her turn finally came, but as I watched her want to be held by her mom, and I listened to them talk softly to one another, it was apparent that Zhino was feeling some trepidaton and anxiety. Who could blame her?

On arriving to the children's ward of Wolfson, smiles soon appeared on both Zhino's and her mother's faces as they were reunited with friends: Shaima, Aros, and their mothers.

As reality set in for Zhino, noticing the scar that Shaima had from her recent surgery, she quickly grew sad and began crying. My heart went out to this sweet, mild-mannered little girl and I began quietly praying for her. My children also noticed her tears and asked if they could pray for her. So we gathered round her as she sat on a hospital bed, praying softly that God would fill her with His peace.

Before long, it was time for our family to leave, and it was comforting to know that she was surrounded by friends that loved her. Pray that God would surround both Zhino and her mother with His love and peace as they wait for her surgery.

Delighted By A Doll

Posted on Thu, 05/29/2008 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel

The past week has been very trying for Zhino. She had been scheduled to report to the hospital on May 27th for her catheterization, but on Sunday we were told it would be delayed. Both Zhino and her mother cried at the news, and the rest of the moms and children were discouraged too. On Monday, we got the good news for Shaima that she was scheduled for surgery on Wednesday, so needed to report to the hospital on Tuesday. While the other mothers and children were glad for Shaima, sensitive Zhino was a bit crushed. A trip to the beach later in the day helped a lot to restore her smile. She was lonely on Tuesday after her friend Shaima left, but the "final straw" to her emotional well-being seemed to happen that evening when we brought little Arya to Jerusalem from the Save A Child's Heart house to begin her return to Iraq. Arya had been given the gift of a baby doll by someone while she was in the hospital, and Zhino was captivated with this pretty doll. Needless to say, Arya didn't want to share her doll with Zhino!

From Tuesday night on it seemed that Zhino went into a sort of depression. She wouldn't eat and cried a lot. Her smile was very hard to find no matter what any of us did. After asking many times, her mother finally told me that the problem was that Zhino wanted a doll. We have received donated toys here at the house from time to time, but very few baby dolls are in the boxes, so I shared with her mother that we would look for one on Wednesday. We were at the hospital or on the road from very early that morning until night. Despite an attempt to find a doll, our volunteer Jeanie came up empty-handed. She brought home a cute teddy bear, but it just didn't fill that lonely place in Zhino's heart. The depression continued today except for looks of anticipation toward me after I went to the Old City to take one of the mothers to the doctor. I told the moms I would still work on it, but needed to be in the office for a little while. But when I got a call with an updated surgery schedule for some of the patients, and there was no new news about Zhino, she went to her room crying again. That was when I resolved to leave the office work for later and go on a shopping expedition for a baby doll.

I found a doll that seemed just right for Zhino, snuck in the house with it, unpackaged it, and wrapped it in its blanket to present to her. She is totally delighted with the doll, and it was a delight for all of us to see "the old Zhino" with her sunny smile again. She is enjoying the doll and everything else going on right now, and I thank God, the Master of TLC, for the change some TLC makes to a little girl's heart.

Please pray for Zhino and her mother as we wait for her catheterization. They are weary of waiting, and Zhino is so weak it is a constant reminder of the need. The doctor explained to me on Sunday that in a case like Zhino's, the catheterization needs to be done closer to the surgery than was possible with the schedule they had in place. Currently, God willing, she is scheduled to undergo her catheterization in the next two weeks, with her surgery just afterwards. Your prayers will help them persevere.

A Doctor's Hug Comforts Zhino

Posted on Tue, 05/06/2008 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel

It doesn't take spending a lot of time around Zhino to love this happy, active little girl. But last Thursday when she had her initial echocardiogram, she burst into tears during the examination, perhaps because of anxiety released as this new process unfolds. When her mother's words did not soothe her, Dr. Tamir interrupted the echo, helped her sit up, and settled her with a hug. After a few minutes talking with her mom, she was able to settle down, and ready to proceed again. This was a perfect expression of the care given, and compassion the doctors feel for these children, although not many people get to see it.

Zhino's echo revealed her need for at least a catheterization, followed by a surgery to close a rather large hole in her heart. It is possible more than one surgery will be required, but until the catheterization, the course of treatment will not be determined. The catheterization should happen within the next two weeks.

Later in the day, Zhino was again upset when her blood had to be drawn, but as soon as that was finished, her sunny smile reappeared. When they did the EKG, she was busy making funny faces at me, unfazed by the equipment taking these readings.

A couple of days later we were all invited to a birthday party in a local park to celebrate with our friend Abigail on her first birthday. Zhino couldn't wait to go to the playground, but had a very difficult time matching her energy level to her enthusiasm level. Her mom and several of the staff took turns carrying her across the park to the picnic spot because of how weak she is, and she had to squat for air often to be able to move about the playground even though she refused to leave to rest for a few minutes. She wanted to be able to do everything all the other children were doing, but it simply was not possible for her. She thoroughly enjoyed the things she could do, like swing and slide.

I look forward to seeing her enjoy these fun activities after her surgery when she can be "full speed ahead."

Please pray for Zhino and her mother as they await her surgery. We all want to see her able to enjoy all the activities of children her age with healthy hearts, and we know God has made a way for this to happen.

Zhino Arrives in Israel

Posted on Tue, 04/29/2008 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel

After waiting in Amman for over seven weeks, the mothers of Zhino, Shaima, Aros, and Cheya were overjoyed to be travelling at last to Israel. Of course the children too were excited about moving on to the next place in their journey to get well. We were all thankful for the cooler weather which had moved into Jordan a few days before so that the trip to the border was pleasant for us as we crowded into the van. Even so, the cooler weather didn't stop us from enjoying some ice cream while we waited to board the bus which would carry us over the Jordan River into Israel.

In spite of the excitement and along with it, there are the contemplations and stresses of what will be next, which are evident in the moods of the group. We use the time travelling to address this as questions are asked and we can discuss in more detail what is about to transpire, and when and where they will be as the process unfolds. At this point, I believe a new reality begins to develop for each family as they recognize that each child's specific heart condition determines the course of the lives of that child and parent for the extent of their stay with us for treatment. None of us or the doctors can foresee how each child will respond to the treatment they need; only God knows these things. We find this a source of comfort, and we encourage the families that we trust the work of the doctors, but we especially trust God in everything that happens to help their precious child. I believe each moment we spend with them reaching out in love helps them know the love and encouragement of God.

I always enjoy spending time with the children and parents, and find each group seems to have its own sort of personality. This is a close-knit group who have been able to pull together and encourage each other through the ups and downs they experienced while waiting.

The younger children look up to Cheya as the 'big brother', and he fills the role well. The mothers trust him with their children as he is gentle but playful, and able to offer correction to them as well as entertain them. I found out yesterday Cheya is learning English in school and has some vocabulary, but is very good in Arabic.

Zhino is very weak from her condition and is often found squatting to force air into her lungs so she can breathe. But she is a very spunky little girl, and I predict that she will be a boundless source of activity after her surgery.

Shaima is also very weak, and is more the pensive, quiet type. She is very smart and quick though when there is something to be figured out, and seems to have a growing English vocabulary as well.

Aros, as the baby of the group, gets lots of attention from everyone and thoroughly enjoys it. He is a happy and curious baby with a sweet disposition. And for little Aros, the trip yesterday was quite a way to celebrate his first birthday! Although he couldn't understand the significance of the event, he was receiving an open door to the surgery he needs on the very day he turned one year old. A party had been given in his honor the night before at the home of friends.

The children will go to the hospital in a couple of days for their first echocardiograms here which will determine the doctors' course of treatment. Let's join our prayers for God's work to be fulfilled in them and their mothers in every way.