Chrakhan 's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Total Transformation for Chrakhan and Her Mother

Posted on Mon, 07/04/2011 - 22:15 by Elena Canler

Transformation is a slow and gentle process which can pass by unseen when it happens nearby. Today however, transformation was boldly visible as Chrakhan and her mother packed their bags and loaded into the van to return to Iraq. 
Both had smiles, joy, and strength that was did not exist two months ago. Chrakhan arrived in Israel with blue lips and hands and could barely walk with me in the park. Today she left for home in a shiny new pair of pink shoes and a matching shirt which declared

Chrakhan Dances Towards Home

Posted on Fri, 07/01/2011 - 00:34 by Kristina Kayser

"He has made everything beautiful in its time..." (Ecclesiastes 3:11a). Two and a half months ago, a timid slender girl arrived on our doorstep at Shevet Achim. Chrakhan and her mother were hesitant to believe that their journey to Israel would result in a healed heart. Two previous attempts to correct her condition of Tetralogy of Fallot had built up walls of doubt and fear. 
When Chrakhan's surgery was delayed, there was even a threat to give up and return home. Praise God they pressed on, with each day providing fresh glimpses of hope. Today was a grand culmination of all those hopes and fears that lay hidden in the recesses of their hearts. We made our way to Wolfson Hospital for an echo that would reveal how well Chrakhan's heart had responded to the complex surgery one month ago and if she could go home. 
Prior to the echo, Chrakhan's mother separated herself from the rest of the group to sit in quiet contemplation. However reserved she appeared on the outside, there is no doubt her mind was a whirlwind of activity. Finally, the moment of decision arrived. As the doctor carefully examined every facet of Chrakhan's cardiac structure and functionality, mother and daughter waited in rapt suspense. 
Although this mother has had limited education, particularly of things medical, she kept her eyes fixed on the echo screen, studying each image with the same intensity as the cardiologist. She didn't want to miss a thing. Meanwhile, I caught glimpses of Chrakhans big brown eyes looking my way, filled with questions. I smiled each time, encouraging her to hang in. 
The relatively short exam must have felt like an eternity to them. Then, just as suddenly as the echo began, it was all over. The doctor waved her hands in the air, shouting "Khallas! Iraq!" ("finished" in Arabic). Chrakhan's mother kissed me and then the doctor with the purest expression of gratitude. Chrakhan walked out of the exam room, joy exuding from her. Other Shevet family members surrounded them in the waiting room to rejoice together. 
The doctor relayed to me that everything about her heart was healing perfectly, fully sealed and pumping well. Chrakhan and her mother will be making their way towards Kurdistan at the beginning of next week due to necessary medical papers not being ready today. A cloud passed over her mother's face with the change of plans, as she was counting on departing tomorrow morning. However, Chrakhan was not willing to let this news rain on her "parade." She chose to dance! 
With a bounce in her step and Kurdish music playing loudly, Chrakhan took to the streets in celebration. Timid is now the last word I would use to describe Chrakhan. Like a bird released from its cage, she is thoroughly enjoying the freedom her new heart has given her. As King Solomon so aptly expressed once, "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven...a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance...." (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4). Truly, this is Chrakhan's time to dance!

A Good Report Card for Chrakhan

Posted on Thu, 06/23/2011 - 14:29 by Jeff Sheehan

A visit to the Wolfson Hospital today with Chrakhan and her mum held great promise. This ten year old girl with Tetralogy of Fallot came to us weeks ago looking frail and quite blue. Her operation on the 29th of May was a great success. Except for a problem with Tachycardia (irregular heart rhythm), she has come on with leaps and bounds. Her colour has improved, and she is very mobile and happy. The Echocardiogram today was very pleasing to the doctor. The pericardial effusion had totally subsided, and her heart function was satisfactory. Her steroid medication was also ceased. Her next echocardiogram will probably be her last. 
Two of her drain sutures were also removed. Chakran's recovery and progress has been so good to witness. Temperature is normal, heart rate around 100 to 115/minute over the last week, which is still slightly high; oxygen saturation normal, her wounds are clean and dry. Once again we give thanks to our Heavenly Father for his care and healing work in Chrakhan's progress and recovery, for a new beginning in her young life. The photographs show Chrakhan having her echo, and one with her little mates. Chrakhan is the girl in the pink dress. 
Donna adds: Riding to Wolfson with Chrakhan was like being with a child who had a box of joy installed in her heart with a long life battery.  I  must share with you my view from the seat in the back.

I thought of Psalm 30:11 "You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy."


Even though there is one more echo scheduled for Chrakhan, she just can't seem to stop dancing and laughing.  She will not be found silent.


Following Chrakhan Through A Checkup Day

Posted on Mon, 06/13/2011 - 21:48 by Cara Stiles

Today was just like any other day at the hospital. Chrakhan and Arina colored in their coloring books and danced as usual. No stress. No fear. This hospital is more like a second home. Chrakhan acted as though she was visiting family. 
Last week, Chrakhan had some pericardial effusion (fancy name for fluid around the heart). She started taking Prednisone to get rid of the fluid. Today

Chrakhan Leaves the Hospital in Style

Posted on Thu, 06/09/2011 - 22:07 by Kristina Kayser

My prayer for Chrakhan and her mother this week has been that "God would cause His face to shine upon them." Today, they experienced His love and favor as Chrakhan was released from Wolfson after an eleven-day hospitalization. The purpose of her extended stay was due in part to elevated liver enzymes in addition to post-op tachycardia (increased heart rate). According to Dr. Alona, both of these issues are resolving, and there is no reason for concern at this point. Several medications will continue to regulate her heart rate and promote healing.

The echocardiogram (echo), which confirmed her good progress, was completed just as I arrived. The question mark on Chrakhan's mother's face was soon answered with the green light for "go!" For mother and daughter, who have anxiously been waiting for this day, relief spilled out in warm smiles. Other Shevet family members were on hand to join in the celebration.

Dr. Alona also instructed us to return Monday, June 13th for a follow-up echo and medication adjustment. Hospital pajamas were quickly exchanged for Chrakhan's favorite pink shirt and lip gloss to match. Her hand tightly grasped a "Hello Kitty" balloon and rose, mementos of her birthday festivities several days ago. This young lady was heading home in style!

As summer sun beckoned her outside and warm breezes tousled her hair, God's face shone on Chrakhan. 

A Prayer On "Chera's" 11th Birthday

Posted on Mon, 06/06/2011 - 23:36 by Donna_West

Thank you so much for your prayers for Chrakhan and her mother over the past weeks. It is so amazing to see such immediate results in the lives of those the Father loves. Often the most precious moments of being affiliated with Shevet Achim are the things that don't get blogged about. Today was such a day with Chrakhan. 

After speaking with the doctor this morning and hearing of her improvements, I walked in the room and it was apparent something had changed overnight. The doctor told me her liver enzymes had returned to normal and her lungs were sounding much better, but her heart was still beating too fast. They have added digoxin to her medications to slow her heart to a normal pace and are watching her closely. 
But for some unexplained reason, "Chera" (our nickname for Chrakhan) came and stood beside me, put my hand on her heart and held it there as she snuggled against my arm. I kissed her on the head and began to quietly pray for a normal rhythm to return to heart and for all her organs to begin function as the Father had originally intend, for Jesus sake and glory. It was a quiet little prayer in English and I didn't realize the father at the next bed with his son (who was awaiting surgery) could understand English - until we finished and I saw him crying and looking upward. He gave me one of the nods that usually express thankfulness in this environment. I told him, "she doesn't understand the words, but she feels something different inside". 
The highlight of another ordinary day at the hospital for "Chera" and her mother was the surprise birthday party. Today she is eleven!
Happy Birthday, "Chera"! May God give you a long life to enjoy your new heart, to have children and see your grandchildren. Amen.

Rapid Heartbeat Delays Chrakhan's Dismissal

Posted on Sun, 06/05/2011 - 00:00 by Donna_West

A brief visit with Chrakhan and her mother this afternoon revealed some concerns about why Chrakhan is remaining in the hospital longer than many children do. Her mother wanted to know if something was wrong that nobody was telling her. After having the question translated, then it was time to talk to the medical personnel. The nurses explained that Chrakhan is experiencing tachycardia (a rapid heartbeat) which can be controlled with medication. In a little more time her heart muscle should finish adjusting to the aggressive corrections which doctors made to the muscle itself. Please continue to pray for Chrakhan

Catalogue of Chrakhan's Vital Signs

Posted on Wed, 06/01/2011 - 00:00 by Jeff Sheehan

Our visit to Wolfson hospital today to see how Chrakhan was progressing was a happy occasion. She was sitting up in bed, but still being monitored. The chest drain tube remained. Intravenous fluid was still being circulated throughout her body in order to keep her hydrated, provide medication, and give access in the case of emergency; intravenous medication acts quicker, because of its direct entry into the blood stream and hence to the target organ. The bluing cyanosis in her lips and tongue had lessened considerably. She was peripherally warm, looked comfortable, and was not in any pain at rest. The chest tube can be quite painful. Chrakhan was on three types of pain relief to keep her fairly pain free. Speaking to an ICU doctor about Chrakhan's progress, he mentioned pleural fluid on the opposite site to the chest tube that needed aspirating, which will reduce the likelihood of infection. Her mother looked quite relaxed, sitting beside her daughter. Before I said goodbye I sang to her a chorus Kurdish "My God is so Big", and quick as a flash she sang it herself, a wonderful reminder to all three of us of our Great God. There is nothing He cannot do.

Grumpy and Recovering Just Fine

Posted on Tue, 05/31/2011 - 00:00 by Kristina Kayser

Our little lady Chrakhan was transferred to Intermediate ICU as of today, which is progress indeed. Day two of post-operation is generally the most uncomfortable, and Chrakhan's demeanor did not hide her distemper. General anesthesia has long since worn off and everything just aches.

Although a bit grumpy and restless, Chrakhan is recovering just fine. Additional respiratory support is being provided by a thin nasal canula. The nurse tending Chrakhan informed me that her heart is mending well without complication. However, doctors are trying to ascertain the reason behind her slightly yellow-tinted skin. Typically jaundice is indicative of a problem in the liver, and blood work has been drawn to aid the doctors in diagnosis. Chrakhan's nurse stated that it didn't seem to be a critical issue, so for now we are simply waiting.

One of the toughest challenges for Chrakhan today was finding a position that brought relief. Some alleviation came when Chrakhan's mother and I gently repositioned her to sitting up in bed. She was able to breathe a little deeper and even cough, which aids in expanding her lungs. A chest tube in her upper cavity is also helping her lungs by removing excess fluid retention.

Chrakhan's mother is at her beck and call, caring for her daughter with calm tenderness. The relief of surgery being completed is enough to give this mother every ounce of patience to temper Chrakhan's post-op blues.

Positive Post-Op Indicators For Chrakhan

Posted on Mon, 05/30/2011 - 00:00 by Jeff Sheehan

Monday the 30th of May found a Shevet team travelling to Wolfson hospital to visit Chrakhan, a 11-year old Kurdish girl who had surgical repair of a Tetralogy of Fallot on Sunday the 29th. We were keen to see how she was doing eighteen hours later.

Chrakhan was still ventilated and sedated, her eyes opened to verbal stimuli, and she wore a look of rest and calm. Her mother was beside her. Just being with her girl would bring strength and comfort to both of them. Surrounding her was a complex variety of tubes, drains & cables that performed several functions: monitoring of her vital readings, infusing her with support drugs that aid heart and organ function, drains removing post-operative bleeding, and wires fitting snugly into the heart itself to provide instant back up in the form of a pacemaker.

As it was fairly busy I was unable to get a run down on her status from hospital staff, however the monitor displayed a regular heart rate, and normal blood pressure and oxygen saturation. Her peripheral cyanosis was difficult to gauge and/or comment upon.

As a visitor and a nurse I was able to do two important functions. 1) Thank God for His care over mother and daughter while praying for His continuing healing. 2) Sing a Christian chorus, in Kurdish, the words of which I was able to get just before I left for the hospital this morning. The pronunciation may not have been all that great, but the intention was in earnest.