Zulaikha's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Visiting Zulaikha

Posted on Thu, 11/16/2017 - 17:28 by Elwira Kromer

Today Coert and I visited Zulaikha and her mum in the hospital. When we arrived, Zulaikha was awake and smiling a lot. It was funny to see how she is reacting to noises in the hospital and then she started to imitate these sounds. Her voice is still weak because she was intubated a long time.

While we were there, she was supposed to receive treatment from a physiotherapist. Sadly she sleeping when he came, so they chose not to wake her. Hopefully she will get this treatment later in the day. She can move her body on the left side with just a little help.

Zulaikha's mum used the time in the hospital for crocheting a cute little poncho for her daughter.
Please keep praying for this family! They have been in the hospital a long time, and it can easily drain your resolve and hope for the future. Let us reach out to the Holy One who gives us limitless hope. 

Praying for the Right Decision

Posted on Sun, 11/12/2017 - 15:45 by Coby van Wijhe
This morning Suhail, Swain and I went to Sheba hospital to visit Zulaikha and her mom. Both were looking okay. I spoke with the doctor and he is pleased with the progress. So I asked him if there is a possibility that Zulaikha can return to our Shevet house and continue her treatment there.
Because Zulaikha still needs IV antibiotics till the end of this month, the doctor is willing to consider this. Zulaikha's heart is okay but they are not fully satisfied with her lungs yet. During the night her oxygen drops and she is still on inhalation three times a day.
At the moment she gets only milk but her Mom will also try to give her some mashed fruit now and see how she takes this. The coming two days we will see how she is progressing and if going home is a possibility. Please pray for a progressing recovery and that the right decision will be made.

Glad for Improvement

Posted on Tue, 11/07/2017 - 22:47 by Elwira Kromer

Today Maxine, Coert and I visited Zulaikha and her mum in the Sheba hospital. We found her in a really good mood. She was smiling a lot and we were very pleased to see her happy. Her oxygen was almost 100 percent when breathing on her own. Thank God the medical staff removed the nasogastric tube so she can drink her food just from the bottle. Now she drinks (really quickly) 50 ml/meal. She is still getting antibiotics through an infusion. 

Her left arm seems to be weaker than the right one but she can move it. She is receiving physiotherapy for her neck and her respiration. While we were there she was receving an inhalation treatment that will help her to breathe more easily. She was doing it very well. Zulaikha's mum is doing well, too.
She is glad to see any amount of improvement in her daughter who has been sick for so long. Please continue praying for Zulaikha's healing and improvement. 

Positive Progress

Posted on Sun, 11/05/2017 - 18:19 by Maxine Stuart

Thank you for your prayers everyone! A few days ago I left Zulaikha with some concern, but today I arrived to see her progressing well. She was extubated over the weekend, and is now breathing on her own, even without oxygen! Her oxygen saturation levels are in the high 90’s, so this proves her heart is working well. She still has some fluid build-up, and her breathing is laboured sometimes, but after some time on the ventilator, she breaths easier.

Zulaikha’s last surgery seems to have completely stopped her internal bleeding caused by the aneurysm around her aorta. This is a big relief. The rheumatologist visited her over the weekend and said the cause was likely inflammation, but still could be a genetic issue, he could not confirm. Elisa and I stayed as Zulaikha was washed, changed and weighed. Then the nurses told us she would be moved to secondary ICU.

When we explained that Zulaikha was going to be moved, her mother burst into tears: joyful tears. Her emotions are, understandably, all over the place. Some of the nurses are concerned for her. Please pray we will discern the best way to care for Mum’s needs as well as bub’s.

Once Zulaikha was settled into her new room, she was allowed to try to feed for the first time in about 3 weeks. This is another sign of progress. She only took about 15ml over an hour, so the nurse inserted a Naso-gastric feeding tube to assist with the remaining milk Zulaikha will have to consume. We hope she will keep her food down, and be able to consume more and more on her own so that she can grow stronger.

She is still on antibiotics and is in isolation for the MRSA virus that she has. She will be on the antibiotics for at least another month. Please pray that Zulaikha will improve in the areas of her feeding, infection, and for her mother’s stamina and emotional strength. We can definitely also praise God for Zulaikha’s progress - current and future!

Warming Many Hearts

Posted on Thu, 11/02/2017 - 16:41 by Maxine Stuart
This morning Coert and I took Zulaikha's mum back to Sheba hospital to be with her daughter. Mum was stronger and in a better emotional state after spending a day and night with the other mothers here at the Shevet house. Their shared experiences was great moral support. But, like any mother would be, she was anxious to get back to her little one to see how she was doing.
 We arrived when the ICU doctor was doing his rounds, and he told us that Zulaikha was stable, but that she wouldn't be extubated today. They are going to keep her sedated today and tonight while they raise her body temperature back to normal. During surgery she was bleeding a lot, so they had to lower her temperature to protect the blood supply to the brain. She will be visited today by a rheumatologist to see if the anuerysm near her aorta were caused by a degenerative tissue disease, or something else. 
Zulaikha has had a long fight, and she is still soldiering on. She is in our hearts and we are all praying for her to recover. So often, our team asks for news of Zulaikha from whoever visited the hospital that day as this little one is warming our hearts with her courage.
She needs love and prayers and God's power, so please join your prayers with ours. Thank you and God bless you!

Surgery Number Three

Posted on Tue, 10/31/2017 - 21:10 by Alexa Bigl

Yesterday Zulaikha underwent an angio-CT scan to see how her blood flow was and to try to determine the underlying cause of her continued struggles. The information was a bit back and forth but this morning we met with the surgeon and his team before Zulaikha went into the OR. The area of Zulaikha's ascending aorta that was previously repaired, a month and a half ago, had become aneurysmic. So, the blood vessel walls were stretched making the vessel dilated with very thin walls. Today, the surgical team reopened Zulaikha's chest and removed this portion of her aorta. 

We waited many hours alongside Zulaikha's mom while her baby girl was in the OR.  Her mom went through a whole array of emotions today, but remained strong. We had visits from other guardians with children hospitalized and also from one of the team members of the social workers team. This therapist had some good ideas to help Zulaikha and her mom feel a bit more at home and comfortable while at the hospital. We hope to soon have some pictures drawn by Zulaikha's siblings, and printed out, hung around her bed. The team at Sheba also hope to set up Zulaikha's mom with some familiar and fun hobbies like sewing and knitting. May the Lord bring these things about to help Zulaikha and her mom through this season of trials and healing. 
At 1:30 Zulaikha's surgeon came out to report the surgery was over and after about an hour her chest would be closed and she would return to the ICU. The surgeon reported in addition to the aneurysmic area of the aorta, they also saw there was a hole in the aorta. The issues were repaired but the surgeon is a bit concerned about not knowing the underlying cause of the problems. The team is waiting for the results of a tissue sample they sent weeks ago to learn if this latest set of issues with her aorta is due to an underlying chronic condition. The surgeon said he is hoping it was simply a complication related to Zulaikha's infection. An infection can be treated, but if the issue is an underlying chronic condition causing problems with her blood vessel walls this would potentially be very bad news. So, we are trusting in the Lord and lifting this up in prayer. 
All that said, Zulaikha's mom was very, very happy to lay eyes on her little girl when they wheeled her out around 2:30 this afternoon. After they got her set-up in the ICU, the other Kurdish mothers we are hosting helped us to convince Zulaikha's mom to join us at our Jaffa house for the night. Zulaikha's mom is struggling to be away from her daughter for even this short time, and even though Zulaikha's is sedated with medications and ventilated with a breathing tube in place, so please join us in praying these hours at the house will be a special time of rest and rejuvenation. And we pray the Lord's healing touch be upon Zulaikha, may her little body recovery fully and may His name be glorified through it! 

The Love of a Mother

Posted on Sun, 10/29/2017 - 20:59 by Alexa Bigl

Zulaikha's mom was doing very well this afternoon. She is ready to be out of the ICU again, but looks well rested and is tirelessly caring for her beautiful little daughter. Zulaikha's recovery continues to be rocky with ups and downs but today's good news included her eating some milk by mouth! Since the episode on Sunday, Zulaikha has not experienced any more blood in her vomit and is doing better. Her surgical incision looks clear and the infection is continuing to be well treated and controlled with antibiotics. 

Today, Zulaikha's oxygen was lower than I have seen in the recent past and the medical team could not shine any light onto why this is the case. We are simply lifting this baby girl up to the heavenly Father and praying for His healing hand to be upon her! 

Prayers for Zulaikha

Posted on Fri, 10/27/2017 - 00:03 by Alexa Bigl

Zulaikha and her mom are continuing the fight towards Zulaikha's recovery. Please be lifting up this sweet baby as she struggles through her next obstacle. This morning Zulaikha vomited a significant amount of blood. The doctors immediately set up for Zulaikha to undergo an endoscopy of her upper GI system. They were hopeful they would find the underlying cause with this test, but in the end they didn't find the origin of the bleeding. The doctors believe the bleeding must be from a gastric ulcer they were unable to see with the endoscopy. Zulaikha lost enough blood that a transfusion was necessary today. The medical team is hopeful the bleeding will be stopped with medications and time, but we know it is up to the Lord to heal this fragile baby. 

Zulaikha's mom, while a bit emotionally unstable, overall remained strong. She cried some but was ready to diligently care for her daughter again when the testing was complete. The continued trial of complications Zulaikha faces day by day is tiring and Zulaikha's mom is certainly feeling the effects. Amer and his mom came by for a quick visit today and this was a very meaningful, although short, time for Zulaikha's mom. Amer's mom and I had the opportunity to share with Zulaikha's mom that it's not just her daughter who is walking through these trials. Many children coming in for surgery have difficult paths of recovery. Because Zulaikha's mom is now alone at Sheba (after Omeed, Lionel, and Amer all came, got their surgeries, and returned home recovered) it is easy to become overwhelmed with the idea it's only Zulaikha who is experience such struggles. But every child's journey towards recovery is different and the important thing to dwell on is knowing the Lord has full power to heal Zulaikha. The doctors remain upbeat and are ready to take it step by step, even if it's very slow with set-backs, and are determined to see Zulaikha come out with a healed heart and body. Please pray for Zulaikha's stability over the weekend. We also pray the Lord performs a miracle and Zulaikha begins to eat by mouth again. May He strengthen her mother and give them both good rest, in the name of Yeshua. 

Zulaikha's Peace

Posted on Mon, 10/23/2017 - 23:22 by Alexa Bigl

Today, I headed into the cardiac center of Sheba to see Zulaikha and her mom. I popped into the step-down unit, hoping to find she had been transferred out of the ICU. And indeed, she had been! She was peacefully napping as I went in to visit with her mom. As we talked some and chatted about ways to help Zulaikha's development and stimulate her initiative to eat, I was happy to learn Zulaikha has been sleeping very well. This important aspect allows mom the opportunity to get vital rest. Even in the midst of difficulty, set backs, and trials it's beautiful to consider the blessings woven through this journey. It's a testimony to the loving Father we have in heaven. And an important testimony as Zulaikha's mom struggles to keep from loosing hope. She is encouraged with reminders of God's grandness and we often tell her she has people all around the world praying for her and her precious daughter. And we are praying for a miracle. May the Lord of Heaven heal this precious baby. May her infection fully be healed and may she starting eating again. 

We created a daily schedule, laid out hour by hour, for her mom to follow to help Zulaikha. The specialists at Sheba are hopeful a regularized schedule will help her to start eating, since the issue appears to be behavioral. So we laid out tines for tube feedings and medications, times for napping and sleep, and times for playing and getting out of their hospital room. Zulaikha's mom struggled to see how this could help and we are praying she will be willing to give it a try despite her misgivings. Thank you for praying alongside us. May God's name be lifted high through Zulaikha's life. 

Zulaikha is in the ICU Again

Posted on Sun, 10/22/2017 - 20:59 by Coby van Wijhe

This morning when Ben and I visited Zulaikha, we were surprised to find her in the ICU again. Sadly the operation wound was infected again. She was not feeling well yesterday and needed oxygen support for a little while. Today she looked better. The doctor said it's a local infection, and that her blood is clean. She still has difficulties with eating. She vomited a little blood and during a gastric lavage there were also blood clots in the syringe. They think there might be a little wound in the stomach after putting in the new tube. So she is being fed by tube again to give her stomach some rest.

The staff was very worried about Zulaikha's mother. She wasn't eating and sleeping well and cried a lot. They also weren't aware that she wasn't trying to feed Zulaikha. She looked very depressed. This has a negative influence on the health of Zulaikha. They asked me if there was a need to find a psychologist for her. I tried to pursuade mom to go outside with me while Ben would stay with Zulaikha. She wasn't happy about it but at the end she joined me.

We had a drink and I had a chat with her brother who speaks English. I explained to him what the staff had told me. He spoke to her and she said she wasn't in need of a psychologist but didn't know what was going on with Zulaikha and her move to the ICU again. However, she felt some relief having more information about the situation.

We also tried to stimulate mom to play, sing, talk and cuddle with Zulaikha. She needs more stimulation. They will start with some activity therapy today or tomorrow. We felt better when we left than we arrived.

We are so thankful to the staff who are so supportive and giving the best care for mother and child. Pray for a breakthrough in Zulaikha's situation. The main problem is the local infection and getting used to oral food again. Pray also for her mother. She has seen many Kurdish families leaving the hospital while she has to stay. At the moment she is the only Kurdish mom in the hospital and misses the contact with other families.