Sham's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

A Tired Love, and Homebound for Iraq

Posted on Fri, 09/09/2011 - 00:00 by madelyn

This sweet, little 3-year-old was very shy and reserved when I first met her. And understandably so, for her environment had already been turned upside down. So when a fair-haired stranger reached out to her, she had to take a day or two to decide how she felt. But the more I hung around, the more I would notice her eyes darting to me in curiosity. Soon enough, she was smiling and playing with me, and even let me hold her.

How precious children are, and what a miracle it is that they recover from such traumatic invasion to their bodies as heart surgery! Although Sham had to stay an extra week with us to ensure all the water from around her heart was indeed gone, no one here complained about the extra time spent with her. On her last night at the Shevet house, before leaving for Iraq in the morning, we had a celebration for her and Zhyar (also leaving) to extend our love to them, and how much they would be missed. As the night went on, Sham's mother communicated to us how much she felt loved and safe here. Through a translation, I was very struck when I heard her say, "While I was here, you never shorted me on anything. You were tired for us." Being tired for someone is like a Kurdish idiom, meaning you go out of your way repeatedly. Praise God, for if there is one thing we try to do here at Shevet, it is demonstrate God's love through our actions and examples.

Sham has now left with her mother to return to their home in Iraq. We heard a good report, that they arrived safely at the airport, and we continue to pray for safe travels. This precious, little girl will be greatly missed. We pray that as she grows, she will continue to grow with the best of health and happiness, and that they would share with their friends and family their experiences in Israel.

A Time to Dance!

Posted on Thu, 09/01/2011 - 00:00 by Gail Buchanan

Donna Jo and I went with Sham and her mother to Wolfson this morning for her final echo. There was much giggling from the car seat in the back of the van as Sham amused herself by pulling funny faces and admiring herself with the photos I had taken of her.

Donna Jo collected Sham

Celebration for Many Reasons

Posted on Mon, 08/22/2011 - 00:00 by Brian Mace

Kristina and I took Sham and her mum to Wolfson Hospital this morning for her routine echo. Sham had been a little fractious before leaving and on the way, but at the hospital, even more so--it is as though she really doesn't like hospitals very much. However, once she was comforted by a huge, cuddly lion, she was happy, and was very content whilst under echo. We didn't have to wait long, as during the holiday season (Ramadan), Sham was the only patient. The doctor, from Holland, was thorough, cautious, and careful, reporting that there appeared to be no more fluid around her heart. So medication will be reduced to zero in about 6 days, and then in 10 days time, on Thursday, she will have another echo. If everything is ok then, she should expect to be granted release to return home.

A good day for Sham and her mum, which can only be celebrated by a delightful little 3-year-old on a very hot Tel Aviv day with an enormous ice cream from McDonalds in Wolfson, and a very brave attempt to eat the biggest slice of watermelom she may ever have seen.   

Collecting Memories Through a Slow but Sure Recovery

Posted on Mon, 08/15/2011 - 00:00 by Donna_West

Sham was busy capturing memories of Israel on her way to the hospital today, which was quite a change from last week's trip.  It was as if she knew she was soon going home. As the echocardiogram was completed and all the current medication instructions and dosage changes from the past week were being reviewed, we were told the news: water is beginning to gather around her heart once again.  It is not a lot, but it can not be left unattended. 

Dr. Kapusta offered sincere apologies for needing to delay Sham's return to Iraq with the plan of action to remedy the situation. Sham's mother had some questions that were easily answered. She took the news well, understanding her daughter's recovery may take a little longer than previously expected. But Sham is recovering, nevertheless. We have experienced God's grace in the delays so many times that we quickly recognize the need for the love of the Father to be made manifest. Sham and her mother are delightful additions to our community and we will enjoy them a little longer while Sham continues to collect her memories of Israel and perfect her good-bye wave. May the Lord's will be done in their lives. 

Sham Endures for Good News

Posted on Mon, 08/08/2011 - 00:00 by Donna_West

The very idea of returning to the hospital today had Sham in tears and clinging to her mother before we even left the Shevet house. You could see the evidence of fear all over her face. Any touch or look in her direction was so unwelcome she would bury her head in her mother's shoulder. To ease the apprehension, we deliberately kept her out of the pediatric ward as I went to get her chart. As we entered the waiting area for the echo department, there was still evidence of the fear.

To our great surprise, Sham endured the echo without a whimper and received the good news that there is no more water around her heart. If all continues on this course (as her medicine is reduced during the next week) she will most likely be released to return to her family after two more echos.

This news along with the speed with which all things were completed were adequate cause for an ice cream cone, with which Sham was delighted. 

A Strong Little Girl

Posted on Thu, 08/04/2011 - 00:00 by Jeff Sheehan


Three-year-old Sham was operated on the 26th of July for the repair of a large Ventricular Septal Defect and a double-chambered right ventricle at the Wolfson Hospital. She was in the hospital for six days, and returned to Shevet on the 1st of August. Today she returned for an echocardiogram. This is an ongoing post-operative follow up, to confirm her progress after surgery and view the pericardial effusion that had developed post-operatively on day five. The results confirmed the success of the surgery. The pericardial effusion was still present, so she will continue on her present medications and return for another echocardiogram on Monday the 8th of August.

Sham is a small, wiry, little girl with a mind of her own. Her mother dotes on her and we all love her dearly. She is still getting over the trauma of her recent surgery. The evidence was quite noticeable as we entered the hospital this morning and she began to cry. But this is quite normal for a little girl after all she has gone through. It will take time to calm her heart and have her feel at ease. I'm sure her stay here will provide the right environment to help her return to normalcy. We will certainly do all we can toward this. Our prayer is that Sham and her mother will know God's peace and rest--there is really nothing better.

Free and Happy, Sham Returns to Jerusalem After Surgery

Posted on Mon, 08/01/2011 - 00:00 by Jeff Sheehan

Today we received 3 and a half year old Sham and her mother back with us at Prophets Street in Jerusalem.

They were both waiting for us at the entrance to the Wolfson hospital when we arrived this morning. The moment she saw us, Sham ran towards us holding on to a big Mickey mouse balloon which was trailing in the wind. It was a lovely picture of a little girl, now healthy and well, not burdened anymore with a systemic illness, or restricted by the limitations of a cardiac anomaly. She looked free and happy. The mother's face said it all, she was beaming.

Sham comes back to us with pericardial effusion (fluid around the heart), often a complication after open heart surgery. She is on medication to reduce this problem. Her next echocardiogram, which will be on Thursday the 4th, will give the medical team a picture of how the heart is functioning as a pump, view the pericardial effusion and its reduction, and confirm the efficacy of the medication.

In closing, I marvel at the way in which Sham has bounced back, her exuberance, and her zest for life, so visible for all to see. Our prayer is that she will continue to make progress in her recovery, and do well to go home to her family in Northern Iraq.

The Day of Sham's Heart Surgery

Posted on Wed, 07/27/2011 - 22:13 by Donna_West

Arriving early this morning, I found Sham still peacefully sleeping. Her mother appeared to be anticipating the surgery with tension, which is understandable. Later, when Sham was awake, she was still resting quietly and pondering the idea of a bottle of milk. It is difficult for a child to fast all night and through the first part of the day when an afternoon surgery is scheduled. As she began to feel the hunger pains, it was the trusted favorite that came to the rescue: BUBBLES. You will see from the following video that her hunger for food was replaced with a stronger desire for bubbles.
At the next attack of hunger good friends from the Shevet house in Jerusalem appeared to play, to take pictures and provide varied entertainment and emotional support. You might notice as surgery time finally arrived (about 2 PM) and the nurse checked Sham's ID once more, Sham was taking the bubbles with her.
Kristina continued to the surgical department with Sham and her mother and writes of the unfolding of events of this amazing day:
Sham was calm and happy in her mother's arms as we proceeded to the OR. Despite the strange environment, her mother provided all the security she needed to dispel fear. It was not until the nurse carried her into the operating theater that she cried briefly before anesthesia was given. Sham's mother

Relief and Thanksgiving After Surgery

Posted on Tue, 07/26/2011 - 23:13 by Kristina Kayser

The much awaited day for Sham's surgery has concluded now with relief and thanksgiving. Surgeons successfully repaired her heart after three hours in the operation room. This day was not without much waiting and a wide scale of emotions. Due to the nature of the day, which included some unexpected delays, Donna (fellow Shevet member) and I returned home late from the hospital. Thus, a fuller report on Sham's operation will be posted tomorrow. But for now, we praise God that she is stable and under the watchful eyes of ICU staff at Wolfson.

Sham Admitted for Tomorrow's Heart Surgery

Posted on Mon, 07/25/2011 - 19:09 by Jeff Sheehan

Today we received the good news that three-year old Sham has been booked for surgery tomorrow the 26th of July. The usual excitement of sharing the news with Sham's mother was well received. We set off after lunch to Wolfson hospital near Tel Aviv, so that the pre-operative process will all be in place for tomorrow's surgery. 
Pre-operative documentation is vital for many reasons. Basic observations