Noor's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

A Life Blossomed

Posted on Thu, 08/11/2011 - 00:00 by Kristina Kayser

One thing I hope will never cease to amaze me is the transformation that takes place in each child's life that comes to Shevet Achim. Noor is yet another example of God's specialty in the miraculous. As she and her mother prepared to return home today, I couldn't help but reflect back to the first day she arrived in Israel. Physically, Noor was weak and oxygen deprived due to her condition of Tetralogy of Fallot. Not even her mocha-brown skin could hide the blue tint around her mouth and fingertips. She was also serious all the time and barely hinted at a smile. Now, her voice can be heard from every corner of the house, sometimes in singing at the top of her lungs, other times in playful shrills or giggling.

Her oxygen level of 98% is much improved and beautifully apparent in her small face, pictured below with playmmate, Sham. While she still loves being close to her mother, Noor has discovered the joy of running and playing freely!

There is no hiding her joy in the photo below with two friends at the park. Instead of being frightened by the scar on her chest, she proudly shows it off frequently. Even as a three-year-old, Noor understands that her heart surgery is something truly special. With the sweet familiarity that comes with feeling at home, Noor shed her shyness like a coat in summer. During her last few days at Shevet, she wandered through staff quarters and the office like she owned the place.

On Sunday evening, everyone gathered for a farewell party to celebrate Noor's heart makeover. She fit the part of a princess with her long pink dress and stylish glasses, as pictured above. As we sang together, ate baklava, and shared encouraging words with Noor and her mother, it truly felt like we were family. Family, I'm learning, is not only defined by blood relation. Through the sharing of deep pain and deep joy, as we so often do at Shevet, there exists the fibers of family. Ultimately, it is through hearts being knit together in love that we come to understand the mystery of God (Colossians 2:2) and this idea of family--which He created in the first place. As I accompanied Noor and her mother to the border between Israel and Jordan today, Noor decided it was time to sing again (as you can hear in the video clip below). This time, however, she stopped mid-sentence to remind her mother of something very important: as soon as they got home, it was time to go shopping. We praise God for all his blessings in Noor's life and for allowing us to be part of her family. 

Racing Toward Home

Posted on Mon, 08/01/2011 - 00:00 by Kristina Kayser

Three-year-old Noor has become acquainted enough with the echo room at Wolfson to hardly make a peep during her final exam this afternoon. Gone were the days of terrified cries as the doctor gently manuevered the ultrasound probe across her torso. Noor kept her eyes locked on mine as the doctor kept her eyes fixed on the computer screen. After several minutes, the much anticipated announcement was made...Noor is ready to return to Kurdistan!

Formerly malfunctioning due to the condition Tetralogy of Fallot, her heart is now fully repaired and doing what it was designed to do. Her Ventricular Septal Defect was sealed with a Gortex patch, one valve was repaired, and another valve was actually created using membrane from her own heart! This is truly a miracle. The post operative complication of fluid buildup around heart and lungs is also resolved. Noor's mother responded with the most enthusiasm when we were told that all of her daughter's medications were finished.

Doctors Alona and Segi stood with Noor to document this special moment. Her healthy heart has also exibited itself in a newly acquired appetite. With great voracity, Noor gobbled up her lunch, even using two forks at the same time.

The final order of the day was to remove one surgical stitch on her upper abdomen. Noor started sobbing as the nurse prepared to clip it off, but stopped suddenly when she realized it didn't hurt at all! Afterwards, she sat carefully examining the piece of thread, content with the fact that it was no longer attached to her.

Before leaving Wolfson for the last time, Noor and her playmate, Sham, raced down the hall giggling. (See for yourself in the following video:)

It was so beautiful to watch, and I rejoiced once more in God's undeniable healing. Truly, "every good and every perfect gift is from above..." James 1:17.

The Final Countdown for Noor

Posted on Mon, 07/25/2011 - 17:41 by Alyse Flack

Noor returned to Wolfson for her next-to-last echo today. Her heart looks great, the doctors told us enthusiastically, no fluid at all. Over the next couple of days, she will continue to be weaned off prednisone. By Thursday, if her echo checks out, she

Good News for Noor

Posted on Thu, 07/21/2011 - 23:25 by Kristina Kayser

Jerusalem's sun shone bright this morning as I accompanied Noor and her mother for her second post-surgery echocardiogram (echo). The last echo revealed a certain amount of pericardial effusion (excess fluid around the heart) that stubbornly remained. Today, we hoped to find the fluid had since retreated. 

Perhaps, one of the most difficult things for parents to handle throughout their time in Israel is the suspense of waiting. After the operation, time is often measured by doctor's appointments. Each visit to the hospital carries great anticipation. "What did the doctor say?" "Is the echo good?" "When do we get to go home?" These are all questions burning on the tips of their tongues long before the echo commences. 
Noor was in a pensive, yet cooperative mood when the doctor began the echo exam. Distracted by a stuffed mouse and bubbles, she only let out a few agitated whines before the echo was finished. The good news is that the Noor's heart is beating free of any excess fluid, allowing her heart to function without exerting any additional effort. Prednisone, the steroid medication used to jettison this fluid, is now being gradually reduced. At Noor's next appointment on Monday, doctors will evaluate how well her heart is responding to this weaning process and pumping properly. Noor's mother was satisfied with her daughter's progress as her questions were duly answered. 
With a summery straw hat and skirt, Noor was now ready to visit the beach on the way home! Her first impression of the Mediterranean last week was not so complimentary. Perhaps this time, I thought, she would find the water more inviting. This, however, was not the case. While her mother confidently waded out into the waves... 
Noor was happy to distance herself from the water, her attention captured by playing in the sand.
Not long after, Noor looked up at me with eyes that seemed to say, "Can we please go home now?" Mother and daughter slept contentedly on the ride back, reflecting simple, yet beautiful peace. I have come to love this little girl with an impish smile who sings to herself and her mother, whose warmth is felt in every hug. Noor's mother recently remarked how much she has come to love our community as family and doesn't want to say goodbye. For Noor and her mother, these are my sentiments exactly.     

A Wet Day All Around

Posted on Tue, 07/19/2011 - 00:33 by Donna_West

The theme of the day for Noor was

Noor's Heart "Comes Home" to Jerusalem

Posted on Tue, 07/12/2011 - 19:55 by Natalie Wisely

Noor's homecoming to Jerusalem today was an exciting event for all of us. We are delighted to have this sweet child return to the house, and she and her mother are also excited to be back. As Noor and her mother walked through the door of Shevet today, her mother turned to me and exclaimed with great joy, "My house!" If it's true that "home is where the heart is," it seems that, at least for now, Noor and her mother's hearts are here with us in Jerusalem.

When I arrived at the hospital and found them in the waiting room this morning, the first thing they asked is if it was time to go! When I told them we had to wait a couple hours, there was obvious disappointment in both Noor and her mother's eyes. But we found creative ways to pass the time

Postoperative Popsicles Getting the Job Done

Posted on Thu, 07/07/2011 - 21:28 by Alyse Flack

Noor is doing well postoperatively. She seemed tired and a little sluggish the morning we visited her, but otherwise appeared to be in good condition. However, this little girl did perk up a good bit when we brought her a Popsicle to munch on. Nothing solves the hospital blues like a chilled treat! 

Pudding and Balloons After Noor's Surgery

Posted on Tue, 07/05/2011 - 21:48 by Natalie Wisely

Noor awoke this morning with one request, "Pudding!" It is so encouraging to see the child awake and wanting food! Her mother was happy to oblige and when I walked into the ICU this afternoon, Noor was already most of the way through her little cup of vanilla pudding. A clown also stopped by to entertain the girl and gave her a blown-up plastic glove with a smiley face drawn on it. 
Yet, even with all this special treatment, Noor is a bit sore from surgery and always wants her mother nearby. It is understandable that she is still in pain; heart surgery is no small thing even though we see it happen so often with such successful results. But we know it is the best thing for her and soon she will be feeling better. She is already improving from yesterday and her fever is gone! We thank God that she is doing well and look forward to watching Him continue to heal her.

Noor's Heart Surgery Goes "Beautifully"

Posted on Mon, 07/04/2011 - 22:33 by Donna_West

As Alyse and I were walking into the Pediatric Ward this morning, Noor and her mother were just being escorted to surgery. PERFECT TIMING! A relaxed and calm Noor showed no emotion other than perfect peace, although her mother was doing all she could to hold together. 
Once we entered the surgical waiting room, Noor went from calm and sleepy to a walk on the wild side with singing, dancing, and giggling. Watch the video and you'll see what I mean. 
Those are good memories to fall back on during the long wait for your child's surgery to be completed.
By about 1:30 in the afternoon Noor was brought out of the surgical theatre and into ICU. Dr. Alona stated that the surgery went beautifully and all went well. Within the next several hours Noor began to develop a fever, but the medical staff is in the process of bringing it down and is not overly concerned. Many children experience this situation within the first twenty-four hours and it is quickly remedied.

Noor Admitted Again For Surgery

Posted on Sun, 07/03/2011 - 21:18 by Alyse Flack

The day started with an hour long drive to the hospital with Noor and her mother in the backseat. Noor was surprisingly calm and peaceful during the ride to Tel Aviv, where she was admitted today for routine assessment before tomorrow's surgery. Her mother tenderly held her as we waited for the medical staff to make their way to our room.
There were three little girls in the room where Noor