Shaima's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Shaima Flies Home to Iraq

Posted on Sun, 07/13/2008 - 07:52 by Dirk

Shaima (in pink t-shirt above) and three other children and their mothers flew back to Iraq today after spending three days with us in Jordan. We still remember the long waiting time before surgery in Jordan. Everybody was very tense then, and it used to take a while before we could cheer them up and make them smile. Now, what a difference!

The children passed the time quickly with handicraft and drawing, and we all enjoyed time together in the evenings as the families joined in our family worship.

It's so nice to release happy mothers and children home to their families. Thank you Lord for all of your grace.

A Joyful Farewell to Israel

Posted on Thu, 07/10/2008 - 01:00 by Amy_Denney

Shaima together with Zhino, Ranj, and Arina and all their mothers came to Jerusalem Wednesday morning in preparation for their return trip to Iraq. Their last request was to see Jerusalem before they left Israel. Hank drove them all over the city, showing them the most popular sights in Jerusalem, including the Garden Tomb (above) and even the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

They arrived back at the Shevet house just before sunset. Once they arrived they prepared a nice dinner as part of the celebration that would take place that evening (Shaima is pictured in the center below).

Keleigh: "There was tremendous joy as all prepared to go back home. Around 11:00 p.m. dinner was served. Shortly after, Kurdish music was turned on and the real party began. All five of the children (Nari was among them, although he's not yet returning to Iraq) sang and danced for hours. Little Ali, waiting with us for his second surgery, loved watching the older children sing and dance, trying to imitate them as best he could. Their mothers also joined in intermittently encouraging the kids to continue on. I left the party around midnight and the children were still energetically singing and dancing."

Amy: "The next morning we weren't going to let them leave for Iraq without praying. So we gathered and prayed for those traveling. I said a tearful goodbye to all those that were leaving. They will surely be missed, but I am grateful to the Lord that they will be healthy upon returning to Iraq."

Hank then drove them down toward the Dead Sea and the border crossing, and on the way found time to give Shaima a memorable camel ride.

From the border crossing Keleigh reports: "They checked out on the Israeli side and loaded their luggage onto the bus. Each mother and child gave us a hug goodbye and with it, the tears began to run down their cheeks. Shaimas mother hugged me and as I began to pull away, I felt her hold on. Through tears, the continual words out of each mothers mouth was, thank you, thank you!

Leaving the Hospital with aSmile

Posted on Tue, 06/10/2008 - 01:00 by Gigi

Shaima had an echocardiogram today, and she will leave the hospital for the children's house in Azur. She is improving wonderfully... and keeping her smile.

Up and Walking Around

Posted on Thu, 06/05/2008 - 01:00 by Andrew_Peck

Shaima is up and walking around now, but has been having some pain in her side lately.

Yesterday she struggled quite a bit with it, but today she was doing much better. We had a fun visit with her, and got to meet her new panda bear whom we named Wesley. Both she and her mother seemed to be in good spirits, and I was encouraged by the improvement she showed throughout the day yesterday.

A Gentle Smile as Shaima Recovers

Posted on Sun, 06/01/2008 - 07:52 by Jonathan Miles

Donna wasn't willing to leave for a month of intensive language study today without first seeing Shaima, so after the end of the Sabbath last night we drove to the hospital ICU, where we found Shaima laying very still, with shining eyes and a gentle smile to greet her visitor.

Donna admired Shaima's new pigtails, and shared with her mother in the joy of seeing this precious girl already bouncing back from her surgery, her death sentence now replaced with hope of a healthy new life. Lord willing she will be out of the ICU in one or two days as her recovery continues.

Surgery Day

Posted on Wed, 05/28/2008 - 07:52 by Donna_Petrel

We left Shaima and her mother last evening with the assurance that we would be at the hospital this morning for Shaima's trip to the operating theater. Keleigh, Jeanie and I left Jerusalem early and were thankful to find them still in their room when we arrived. After sitting with them for a little while waiting for those last few minutes before she was wheeled downstairs, I realized no one had come to ask the usual final questions. That was when we found out that there were two surgeries scheduled today, and Shaima was the second one. The big questions then became how to keep Shaima's mind off of her appetite since she'd been in a pre-surgery fast since midnight last night, and how to keep her and her mother from becoming anxious as they wait.

We chatted, acted silly, worked puzzles, and Shaima played games on her mother's cell phone. Her favorite diversion came when her father called to speak to her before she went for the surgery. All of these things helped a little, but ultimately Shaima became too hungry and frustrated to wait any longer around 11:30, and began to cry. Even though she is so mature in so many ways that we call her the little momma of the children, she also is a little nine and a half year old girl who can only take so much stress without a reaction. Thankfully after only about five or ten minutes the nurse came to tell us that Shaima was to be ready to go for they had come to take her downstairs.

When we arrived at the operating room floor, only one person could accompany Shaima and her mother further, and I had the blessing of going with them. This is always an intense time when fears and tears might be prevalent as the emotions of separation for parent and child are at a peak. The pre-op room where the mothers and children wait has murals on the wall, toys they can play with, and a TV to help everyone pass the time without focusing solely on their fears. None of this made much impact on Shaima till we found a stuffed panda which caused her to smile and ask if it could go back to Iraq with her.

The nurse who was with us carefully decided that the answer was yes, and this news helped us pass the additional 45 minutes we had to wait for Shaima's turn to leave for surgery. Her mother was very strong and helped me try to keep the mood as happy as possible. When the medical staff came in to check the documentation for the final time, Shaima began to tear up after they left. I asked her if I could pray for her, and when she said yes I had opportunity to pray for both she and her mother. Within a few minutes she was on her way to the OR and her mother and I on our way upstairs. Her mom shed some tears as we made our way back to the "fish room" [waiting room with aquarium] for the four or five hour wait we knew to expect, but she was strong and thankful that this day was here. She went to pray, and then came back to sit with us. Other parents whose children are in the hospital stopped to visit and check on both mother and child. When we had only one and a half to two hours left we went to our "waiting corner" to watch for the doctors to return from the OR, and hear their report about when to expect Shaima to be brought up to the ICU.

We'd been told this morning that barring any complications Shaima's surgery to repair the huge hole in her heart should not take long. Almost exactly four
hours after we left her at the OR, she was wheeled upstairs. Dr. Sasson was waiting in the hallway near the ICU, and said the surgery went very well, that she was doing fine, and that tomorrow she should begin to wake up, and be extubated to breathe on her own. We gave thanks to God for this good report. It only took about half an hour before we could go into the ICU to see Shaima, and this was a little difficult for her mother when she saw the ventilator and all the monitors working on Shaima's behalf to show her condition to the staff. But Shaima's mother regained her composure and asked for pictures to share with Shaima's father when they return home.

When we left the ICU mother was busy answering and making phone calls to her family about Shaima's condition. I left her with the statement that the Shevet staff would continur to pray, and so would all of those who knew about Shaima. Thank you for your faithfulness to trust God with us for all He wants to do in the life of Shaima and her family.

Leaving for Surgery

Posted on Tue, 05/27/2008 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel

As soon as Shaima's mother heard yest- erday that we would leave for the hospital today, she jumped up from the bed where she was sitting and ran over and began kissing and thanking me. I told her it was not me but God who we could all thank for this good news! Both Shaima and her mother then began a flurry of activity including laundry and getting things in order for their departure.

This morning when we left Jerusalem Shaima and her mother were still enthusiastic about this day's events, but by the time we reached the hospital the anxiety level was rising for both mother and daughter. Through the afternoon while waiting to be assigned a room, sweet Shaima did her best to keep smiling after enduring the dreaded blood test and insertion of the IV catheter which is so uncomfortable for the patients.

I gave her a special card made for her by some children in America who are praying for her, which she and her mother looked at for a long while.

As we left her this afternoon she was still awaiting her final room assignment, but had a temporary place to relax in the meantime. I was able to leave her with a stuffed toy "praying bear" which was sent from the US, and assure her that there were many people praying for her.

Several of us will go to the hospital early in the morning so we can be with Shaima and her mother as she goes into surgery, one of the toughest times of this journey. We will sit with her mother through the day until Shaima comes out of the OR and is taken to the ICU. Shaima is old enough to understand everything that is happening and she is doing her best to be strong, as is her mother. They are very close, and just as now they share some anxiety before the surgery, soon they will share the joy of a new heart after the surgery. Please pray for both of them during this intense yet long-hoped-for day.

Shaima To Surgery Wednesday

Posted on Mon, 05/26/2008 - 01:00 by Keleigh_Glisson
Yesterday was Shaima's first-ever visit to the ocean, at southern Tel Aviv. And today the doctors notified us that her surgery will take place on Wednesday, May 27. After Shaima found this out today I asked her if she was scared and she said "no." This evening she asked who would be at the hospital with her and I thought I detected a little bit of fear in her tone. Please begin to pray that the her surgery will go well and that the doctors will be able to fully correct the large hole in her heart.

Shaima Is Operable!

Posted on Wed, 05/14/2008 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel

Great news... Shaima's cath today showed that she is operable!

Admitted for Catheterization

Posted on Tue, 05/13/2008 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel

Sweet Shaima (pictured above on the right) was admitted to the hospital this afternoon for her catheterization tomorrow. Because of the complicated heart problems found during the echocardiograms she's had, the doctors will use the catheterization to determine whether Shaima's heart is operable. Please pray expectantly for God's touch and His wisdom as the doctors do their work.

Shaima was a bit nervous when admitted because of the blood test which is required, but soon afterwards she was more relaxed. She enjoyed having the company of her friend Zhino who visited the hospital to be with Shaima, Aros and Cheya. We anticipate that this time next week Zhino will be the one preparing for her catheterization.

We will update you tomorrow on the doctors' determination of Shaima's operability. Pray fervently for her, and her mother, who understands the seriousness of the outcome of this procedure.