Zulaikha's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

A Central Vein Line

Posted on Thu, 10/19/2017 - 23:40 by Coby van Wijhe

This morning when Ben and I wanted to see Zulaikha, she was already gone for the placement of a central vein line. It took a few hours before Zulaikha and her mom came back.

The placement of the central line went okay. Mom was struggling with all the delays and intervention Zulaikha has to go through. I felt so much pain and sadness that I found it very hard to leave her behind.

The doctor said because of the positive results of the blood culture, the antibiotic she is on might needed for less than 6 weeks. I really hope and pray for it!

Becoming Mobile

Posted on Tue, 10/17/2017 - 22:40 by Coby van Wijhe

When Philippa and I visited Zulaikha and her mom this morning they both looked unhappy. Mom was sad because of little progress and Zulaikha was just lying there and groaning. She is still being fed by the tube because she won't eat food orally. I asked the doctor about her situation. They started Zulaikha two days ago on another antibiotic. The doctor was pleased to say that the blood culture from the last 48 hours was good and they expected that it will stay so. She will be on the antibiotic for 6 weeks but hopefully they can change it soon to an oral antibiotic. Otherwise, she has to stay in the hospital for another 6 weeks. 

The doctor thinks that Zulaikha might have forgotten how to eat because of being fed through the tube for several weeks. They will continue to offer her mashed food and hopefully she gets used to it again.

Zulaikha also needs more stimulation rather than staying in bed the whole day. So when we left the doctor, we went straight back to Zulaikha and her mom and told her what the doctor had said. We took Zulaikha out of her bed and gave her to mom. We walked out of the ward and mom was so pleased she started to cry. After many weeks there was a sign of progress. Tomorrow we will bring her a baby stroller so she can walk with Zulaikha. We noticed that Zulaikha loved it and was looking around with her beautiful big eyes. Please pray that the antibiotic will defeat the bacteria and that the mobilization will have a positive effect on Zulaikha's healing progress.

Struggling to Eat

Posted on Sun, 10/15/2017 - 21:15 by Coby van Wijhe

This morning when Ben and I visited Zulaikha, she was happy and laughed while Mom was talking to Dad on the phone. Her oxygen level is good, and she is without supplemental oxygen, however, she's still on antibiotics because of her chest infection. At the moment she is on an NG feeding tube because when they try to give her milk or yoghurt to eat, she doesn't want it. It looks to me that when we hold her up to eat, she is in pain.

I explained it to the doctor, and they will now give her pain medication to see if that is helping her to eat. They will try to increase her strength with milk, yoghurt, soup, and mashed fruit. Mom wanted to do some shopping for herself. So while mom and I went shopping in the hospital, Ben stayed with Zulaikha. Mom was very pleased to be outside for a little while but was shocked with the prices. Still she got the things she needed. Please pray for the full recovery of Zulaikha and that she is able to start eating again.

Optimistic About Recovery

Posted on Thu, 10/12/2017 - 15:57 by Dayo Martin
Today we visited Zulaikha. It is the first day after her latest surgery and she and her mother were doing quite well. She was sleeping peacefully during my visit but looked very good. The surgery went well and they were able to remove part of the infection from her chest. The nurses at the hospital say she is doing well and they seemed optimistic about her recovery. Her mother was in a happy mood today although she says she has not been getting much sleep. Hopefully, Zulaikha will continue to improve so that her mother can find peace of mind and is able to get some rest.

Surgery to Fight the Infection

Posted on Tue, 10/10/2017 - 22:15 by Philippa Schaefer

Today Zulaikha was taken to surgery again, as she is suffering from an infection in her surgical wound. They opened a part of the wound again in order to take out some of the fluid surrounding the infection.

One of the volunteers stayed with her mum, until Zulaikha came out of the surgery. Tears of relief were coming out of her mother's eyes when she saw her baby again. Zulaikha looked quite awake and happy after her operation.

Thanks to God that everything went well! Hopefully she will recover soon from the surgery and the infection.

Caring and Sharing

Posted on Sun, 10/08/2017 - 23:14 by Deborah Burke
"Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua Messiah, the merciful Father, the God from whom all help comes. He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we have received from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Late this morning my co-worker, Philippa, and I arrived at the children's ward in Sheba to find out that little Zulaikha's progress to a full recovery has been hampered by further infection. Fluid in her chest cavity appears to be the culprit that has prevented full blood flow getting to the left side of her heart from her lungs via the pulmonary veins. The medical team think that the buildup of fluid has put pressure on the pulmonary veins thus obstructing the flow of oxygen and blood.
The nurse was quite upbeat about Zulaikha's overall health despite the haemoserous fluid that started discharging from her suture line. This was very disconcerting for Zulaikha's mother but the nurse said it was better to be out than in. The cardiologist expelled further fluid this morning and it has been sent to pathology for culture testing. In the meantime, Zulaikha has been commenced on 3 different antibiotics as tests have returned positive for 2 different  infections. The team are expecting a positive response to the antibiotics and over the next few days they are hoping that culture tests will be negative and she will be taken off the antibiotics. It seems at this stage that they are not considering any further surgery and particularly if their hunch is right about the fluid being the cause of the problems.
Meanwhile Zulaikha smiles with her eyes and bats her lovely long eyelashes. She so desperately wants her mother to pick her up and cuddle her. Her mother obliges with as close a cuddle as possible, and, though weary, maintains a bedside vigil except to come out and socialise. Thanks be to God that there is a tight-knit little group of support around Zulaikha and her mother. Quite a friendship has been forged between some Gazans mothers and our Kurdish mothers. They eat together, drink tea together and watch out for each other at such a time as this. It seems so clear that God is in the thick of these situations helping the families in their times of trouble so that they are able to help others/each other, using the same help that they received from God. It is so sweet to watch them fussing over each other.
We pray that the sweetness of the Holy Spirit abides in them and around them as they care for and share with each other.

Testing and Waiting

Posted on Wed, 10/04/2017 - 21:22 by Alexa Bigl

Sweet Zulaikha is still hospitalized on supplemental oxygen. She continues fighting a fever on and off. And the medical team has still not made a final decision if a second surgery is necessary. During all the waiting for a decision about the surgery Zulaikha's oxygen saturation has improved.

She is only on 0.5L supplemental oxygen and her saturation levels are 97-100%. Yesterday Zulaikha underwent a CT scan which we were hoping would shed insight on the necessity, or not, of a second surgery. But the nurse updated us today a second CT scan will be needed next week, along with a biopsy. The team can see there is something preventing full blood flow getting to the left side of her heart from her lungs via the pulmonary veins. The reason for the decreased flow is unknown. So, that's why further testing is necessary before a conclusive decision is made. 

Zulaikha's mom gave us many smiles today which was encouraging. Despite her exhaustion, she is remaining strong for her much-loved daughter. Zulaikha was content during the beginning of our visit but then became fussy before dozing off into a fitful nap. Zulaikha's drawn-out journey towards a healed heart keeps our mind set on where it should be; we must rely on God for Zulaikha's healing. It's easy to become expectant for His powerful hand to work or even put faith and trust in the medical staff, machines, etc. But Zulaikha's situation is blessing us with the reminder to trust in Him and His timing and to be in specific prayer for His healing to be upon Zulaikha. 

Peacefully Waiting

Posted on Thu, 09/28/2017 - 23:15 by Lindsay Martin

Today I was able to visit Zulaikha for the first time since she arrived a few weeks ago. At first I was struck by how big and beautiful her eyes are. As she was staring at me curiously, I was amazed at how beautiful and creative our God is.

Zulaikha is keeping stable but did not receive the surgery today as the doctors were hoping. They are now hoping to perform the surgery this coming Sunday. Her mother seems quite anxious as she continues to wait but is thankful to hear the news that it will be soon.

Please pray for God's hand of protection and healing over Zulaikha this weekend and peace for her mother as she anticipates the coming surgery. We trust His sovereign hand for the perfect timing.

Zulaikha Needs Another Operation

Posted on Tue, 09/26/2017 - 22:28 by Coby van Wijhe

This morning we visited Zulaikha and her mother. The doctor had the results of the CT scan and explained to us why her oxygen saturation is still low and therefore she is still in need of oxygen. There seems to be something blocking the pulmonary veins. The pulmonary veins are the veins that transfer oxygenated blood from the lungs to the heart. Because of this blocking, the left part of the heart cannot fully function. Sadly she will need another operation to open up the pulmonary vein so that the blood flow from the lungs to the heart will improve. The doctor hopes the operation will be done tomorrow afternoon. Although it will be a small operation, please pray for Zulaikha and her mom. 

Fever Gone

Posted on Sun, 09/24/2017 - 22:59 by Coby van Wijhe
When I entered the ward, Zulaikha was waiting with her mother to go for a CTscan. The nurse told us that Zulaikha's temperature was normal again. She was still on oxygen, 2 liters/minute. She also still needs medication through the airo chamber. Because of the Jewish New Year holiday, the outcome of the blood result was not known yet. 
Hopefully we will know more tomorrow. Mom looked tired; it's been a long time of waiting in the hospital for her. We left her with some fruit, pitas, and biscuits.