Najlaa's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Glowing Najlaa Returns Home

Posted on Mon, 02/06/2012 - 22:15 by Mary_Dailey

Najlaa and her mother arrived in Jordan Friday evening with Jonathan to fly out to Iraq on Saturday. It was such a pleasant surprise to see the change in her. She was glowing all over and looked so healthy. This is another one of our miracle children returning to their home with a new and healthy heart. It was so good to be able to spend this time with them, her mother was glowing also and they looked so happy. We really had good fellowship together, eating and sharing, and it was great being able to hug her and hold her hand. It was so sweet to see her talking on the phone to her father and to see her precious smile. I'm sure that her family will be amazed when they see her. 

I thank God for the work He is doing with our children in Israel, there for a time Najlaa was not doing well at all but through all your prayers and encouragement the Lord gave her a special touch. As it says in James 5:16(b): The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Dental Work Will Postpone Najlaa's Return to Iraq

Posted on Wed, 01/25/2012 - 00:27 by Co-authored

(This blog was co-authored by Shevet volunteers Sophie and Ryan.)

Najlaa received the go-ahead from doctors yesterday to return home to Kurdistan. However, her mother is realizing that in Israel another medical opportunity is open to Najlaa that she cannot receive at their home in northern Iraq, which is a two-hour drive from the nearest city: dental care.

Many Shevet children come to us with teeth browned and blackened from high-sugar diets, and little or no dental hygiene. The doctors reports that go home with the children include several precautions about heart-related health, and one additional order that is quite off the subject: "and make sure the child brushes their teeth!"

So today, Tuesday, Najlaa went to see a dentist in Jerusalem. The care he recommended after examination would keep her in the country for additional days, and Najlaa's family, believing this to be a good opportunity, accepted. 

Our coworker from China, Sophie, accompanied Najlaa to the dentist. As some of her first typed words in English, she submitted this short blog, which sums brilliantly any trip to the dentist: 

"This afternoon we went to see the dentist for Najlaa. She is very brave."

Najlaa Released, and Ready to Go Home!

Posted on Tue, 01/24/2012 - 00:24 by Liliya Semenyuk

When the nurse handed Najlaa

Najlaa's Warm Welcome At Wolfson

Posted on Mon, 01/16/2012 - 22:40 by Kristina Kayser

If Wolfson had a popularity contest, Najlaa would have won it today hands down. As soon as we entered the pediatric department, she was greeted with hugs and warm greetings. Everywhere we went, staff who had befriended Najlaa throughout her hospital stay were excited to see her.

The purpose of today's visit was to review her heart's condition five days after being discharged. Najlaa lay perfectly still during the echo exam, and every once in while she met my gaze and smiled back at me in her shy little way.

Dr. Alona was so impressed with her progress, she said, "This is the best I've ever seen her!" Moreover, she suggested that Najlaa perhaps needs only one more echo before being ready to return home due to her accelerated recovery. Praise God!

A few things that Dr. Alona is looking for further improvement in include increased muscular endurance and strengthening of her left ventricle. Exercise and medication should continue to gently push these along. Five sutures were then removed from her stomach and chest, and blood was drawn for lab work, all of which caused great discomfort for Najlaa. When all was said and done, we were ready for the trek back to Jerusalem.

Dr. Alona caught sight of Najlaa one more time, however, and took the opportunity to escort her into ICU for a brief reunion with the nurses and doctors there. The warmth and affection continued, making mother and daughter feel very loved. If wealth is measured in friendship, then Najlaa left Wolfson a millionaire.

A Surprise Homecoming!

Posted on Wed, 01/11/2012 - 20:50 by Kristina Kayser

Less than forty-eight hours after being released from secondary ICU, Najlaa took another giant leap forward by leaving Wolfson Hospital entirely today! This is big news, my friends. Her open heart surgery to repair TOF was complicated. Her recovery in ICU was long and tumultuous. At some point, doctors were unsure if she would even pull through. Her turnaround, in many ways, has been nothing short of a miracle. Throughout history, Israel has been a land well acquainted with the miraculous, and so it continues. I can say with a full heart, "Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things! (Psalm 72:18).

Najlaa's extended stay in the hospital also provided for enriching relationships with the medical and auxiliary staff. Dahlia, an art therapist, expressed how much she loved Najlaa and enjoyed working with her. "She's an amazing girl!" Her mother beamed and reciprocated the gratitude while Najlaa shyly bowed her head and smiled. Another pediatric volunteer was saddened by her leaving and wanted to know the soonest opportunity to see Najlaa again. It was beautiful to see the response of love towards this family. 

Medically speaking, Najlaa continues to make progress slowly but surely. Muscle atrophy has weakened her gait over the past six weeks due to time spent in bed. With time, however, she will grow stronger on her feet. Cardiac medications have been reduced to three types, and two additional supplements (iron and folic acid) will provide an extra boost. Najlaa will require follow up echoes to mark further milestones in her recovery. To be sure, doctors will be keeping a close eye on her left ventricle (lower chamber), which had not been functioning properly post-surgery. The VSD remains sealed, her pink skin reflects healthy oxygenation, and her lovely smile is evidence of renewed life. 

Though Najlaa is still learning how to speak, her eyes reflect a world of dreams that invite others to see life anew. As C.S. Lewis once said, "My own eyes are not enough for me; I will see through those of others.

Najlaa Continues to Improve

Posted on Wed, 01/11/2012 - 15:11 by Brian Mace

We came to Wolfson Hospital on Tuesday to bring Gaza children for assessments and to follow up on the progress of Gaza children in hospital. Whilst we were tracking down some of these children, to my great delight I passed Najlaa's bed in the ward where she was eating her lunch. 

This is the first time I have met her, although I feel as though I know her, as I have been praying for her for months. On seeing her, I called out: "It's Najlaa: how wonderful!" My surprise was greeted with a lovely warm smile both from her and her mother. We had a lovely time, briefly speaking with one another through Suhail's translation. 

Her mum explained that Najlaa is eating and walking a little more now. And from her peaceful and joyful greeting as well, I am thrilled to see such improvement in this dear little girl over the recent weeks. 

Najlaa Out Of ICU Altogether

Posted on Mon, 01/09/2012 - 20:57 by Stephanie Ventura

Today was another big leap forward for Najlaa: she has now been moved from secondary ICU into the less critical children

A Vibrant Perspective on the World

Posted on Sun, 01/08/2012 - 20:47 by Stephanie Ventura

We visited Najlaa and her mother at Wolfson on Friday afternoon. When we arrived we found her in the children

The Big Picture for Najlaa

Posted on Mon, 01/02/2012 - 17:59 by Kristina Kayser

Good things come in small packages, and for Najlaa, this couldn't be truer. At first glance, you may only see a shy little girl with a fragile frame. But if you really stop and spend time with her, you will find a precious treasure. Perhaps, what makes her character so unique is its subtlety. Her spirit is gentle, her strength quiet. Though Wolfson's secondary ICU may be the anvil upon which her character is being forged, Najlaa is being handled carefully and patiently. I see God's grace all over her life, and so do the doctors.

Dr. Houry shared with me today that Najlaa has been experiencing the ups and downs of a difficult recovery. "One day she's good, and the next day, not so good," he stated. "But if you look at the big picture, over the past month, she has made much improvement." Stability is what Dr. Houry is waiting to see, which will give him the confidence to reduce her cardiac medications and move her into the children's department, where less critical patients reside. A pacemaker has been installed to help regulate her heartbeat, and supplementary oxygen is used very minimally.

In keeping with Najlaa's nature, her heart is quietly gaining its strength. Stomach discomfort is hindering her appetite from really taking off, so please pray that her body will welcome the nourishment she needs to continue making progress. Thankfully, smiles come easily to her face, and her beautiful brown eyes still dance. Remember Najlaa's mother in your prayers as well, who longs for the warmth of home just as much as her daughter. 

Najlaa Walking and Creating Art in ICU

Posted on Thu, 12/29/2011 - 22:10 by Stephanie Ventura

Najlaa is like a miracle that keeps growing in strength and wellness with each passing day. We had a breakthrough today as the nurses had her walking with the assistance of a walker. Only a few steps were taken because of lack of strength, but progress continues to be made nonetheless, praise God.

Also, we