Aveen's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Over the Hump

Posted on Mon, 04/24/2017 - 21:41 by Alexa Bigl

Aveen is well on her way to recovery. The cardioversion yesterday morning did exactly what we all hoped and prayed for. Her heart is in normal rhythm and Aveen is doing very well! She was allowed to walk around this morning and was beaming.

Soon after, her dad excitedly told me she would be transferred to the children's ward. She came over just in time for a laugh with the clowns. 

As always, she and her dad faithfully and joyful helped with our many other families at the hospital; providing explanation, comfort, and reassurance to them. Later, Dr. Alona reported she is very happy with how Aveen is looking. We are hopeful for a discharge home to our Jaffa base very soon (maybe even tomorrow). 
Aveen is still on her special, no fat diet and dislikes it very much. They will soon reassess if it continues to be necessary. Please be praying for this. Aveen has lost 2kg the last days and tries to put on a brave face as she is eating food that does not taste good to her, but it is not easy. Her sadness is obvious each time a bland meal is brought her way. Hopefully, it will be determined she can eat a more diverse diet in the near future. Thanks for your faithful prayers for precious Aveen and her father. 

Farewell to Our Friend Aveen

Posted on Tue, 04/17/2012 - 22:25 by Kristina Kayser

Sitting beside Aveen this afternoon, I began to consider the ways her life has impacted my own. She has been a picture of grace, gentleness, and kindness. When I bring medicine to the children every morning, she always greeted me with warm eyes and a smile. Throughout the day, she often slipped her arm around my waist, walking through the house as sisters. With the little ones, she was consoling and patient. With the mothers, including her own, she was honoring. No complaint ever came from her lips, and any sorrows borne were expressed through silent tears. She has taught me much. 

By way of honoring and Aveen and her mother, a farewell party was given last night by the Shevet community. We gathered for cake and tea as well as to share our sentiments with this pair. Everyone agreed that the changes in both Aveen and her mother are lovely to behold. Fear is absent from their faces and joy becomes them. Aveen's mother was also thanked for her culinary skills that have kept everyone in the home well fed. She bowed her head and smiled shyly in response. After a presentation of gifts for Aveen and her mother, we watched a DVD prepared by Madelyn, with photos of their stay in Israel. It was a beautiful evening rejoicing in God's grace toward Aveen and giving thanks for a miracle that was twenty-five years in the making.

Aveen's silent tears fell down her cheeks once more as we said goodbye today. Her mother cried softly as well, sharing loving words and kisses. We prayed for God's blessing and healing for Aveen, trusting that her mended heart will grow stronger day by day. The freshly planted flowers surrounding us in the courtyard were the perfect symbol of the new life and promise granted to this graceful woman. 

Introducing Aveen to the Sea

Posted on Mon, 04/16/2012 - 00:10 by Kristina Kayser

Ever since I was a little girl, the sea has been to me a like a good friend. Aveen, a young woman of twenty-five, had never met the sea before, and today gave me the delight of introducing the two.

Her eyes flashed with excitement when I asked if she was ready to go. We spoke of faith, life and family as the car wound steadily westward. She hardly seems the same girl that I first met. The fear which defined her nature at the beginning has been shed like a coat out of season. In its place is a garment of joy and lightness of spirit.

Aveen could not have had a more idyllic encounter with the Mediterranean. Warm waters and cloud mosaics invited us towards the shoreline. Waves splashed around her feet, drawing out one smile after another. We agreed that beauty surrounded us, and for that, we praised God together.

The horizon stretched out before us, and Aveen stood quiet. Her solitary figure against the great sea, however, spoke volumes. Solomon once wrote, "As in water face reflects face, so a man's heart reveals the man." (Proverbs 27:19) Aveen's mended heart bears the mark of a woman who sees life through new eyes.

Who knows the thoughts and dreams which stir within her? And that is a beautiful mystery.  

Aveen's Heart is Ready to Travel Home

Posted on Tue, 04/10/2012 - 20:43 by Kristina Kayser

Aveen and her mother were ready to leave for the hospital the second I met them this morning. En route to Sheba Medical Center, it looked as though both were deep in thought; anticipation of home always creates an element of suspense when heading to an echo appointment. "What will the doctor say today?" I wondered, and perhaps they did too.

While the preliminary exam with the echo technician took place soon after our arrival, the doctor was not able to see Aveen for another two hours. I could tell she and her mother were struggling with this delay, but we made the best of it. It was enjoyable to simply be with them and observe their personalities. A transformation has taken place in both mother and daughter. Somber when they came in Israel, now smiles and laughter are their frequent companions. 

Suddenly, the doctor arrived and Aveen was ushered into the exam room once more. Dr. Selam observed that her heart continues to function well at nearly three weeks post surgery. The residual pericardial fluid present at last week's echo has fully resolved. Moreover, both the VSD patch as well as the patch which repaired her pulmonary valve are holding fast. Doctors still agree that in the next three to five years, Aveen will most likely need a pulmonary valve replacement surgery.

The only other matter requiring careful attention before discharge is the dental work she received yesterday. Two teeth were pulled and a root canal was performed. As with all heart patients, Aveen is taking prophylactic antibiotics to prevent infection. A follow up visit to the dentist tomorrow will determine if Aveen is fit to return home as early as this Friday. 

Once the news of a possible departure this week was shared, the echo room was filled with shouts of thanksgiving. Aveen's mother unabashedly kissed the hands of the doctor and nurse. Aveen stood confidently beside Dr. Selam, her face beaming.

The medical staff noted how well she looks, and humbly received the outpouring of gratitude. As we walked towards the elevator, Aveen's mother cheerfully thanked the receptionist, Tal, and asked for a picture, making sure no one was left unrecognized.

To say that Aveen and her mother were happy is an understatement. How beautiful to see God turn their sorrow and fear to rejoicing these past few weeks. Truly, "those who sow in tears shall reap in joy." Psalm 126:5

First Echo Shows A Heart On The Mend

Posted on Wed, 04/04/2012 - 22:35 by Kristina Kayser

There is something very graceful about Aveen

All Smiles, Aveen Returns to Shevet Achim

Posted on Tue, 03/27/2012 - 22:09 by Liliya Semenyuk

Unsure of where I'd find Aveen and her mother, I walked uncertainly into the intermediate ICU, where she was last seen by Kristina. "Aveen?" I said just above a whisper in the dim room, wondering which curtain she might be behind, when out of the corner of my eye I saw someone sit up quickly. It was Aveen, not behind a curtain at all, and with a smile spread across her face as I never saw it before. Her mother got up with a smile and a giggle of joy. "Let's go?" She said goodbye and thanks to all of the Palestinian families still at the hospital.

After Aveen's IV port was removed, the nurses worked swiftly to provide a written report and a prescription. As we made our way to the elevators when all was finished, Aveen affectionately took my arm and looked up at me with a shy smile and a twinkle in her eye; there was an element of new life.

Out the door of the hospital, at the first gust of wind, I expected some complaining of coldness, but instead, Aveen smiled contentedly, closed her eyes, and said, "Xosha!" (meaning "Good!"). Hand in hand, five days after surgery, we made our way to the vehicle, and up into the mountains where Jerusalem and Shevet Achim are.

Aveen's Amazing Race to Recovery

Posted on Mon, 03/26/2012 - 22:48 by Kristina Kayser

I've seen many children bounce back after surgery at lightning speed, but it's quite another matter when the patient is twenty-five. Aveen is running an amazing race to recovery that continues to surprise us all. This morning, she was resting in intermediate ICU. However, as soon as she saw me, Aveen sat up and hopped out of her bed and walked to meet me. Her face was beaming with joy, and her mother's expression mirrored her own. Walking down the hall, I asked if she had any pain. "Nah, nah!" she exclaimed. Aveen's strong gait and beautiful pink skin provide further proof that she is doing very well.

Doaa and her mother brought cheer and delicious Kurdish cuisine to share. After eating lunch and celebrating Aveen's progress, I received more good news from Dr. Amir. He relayed that Aveen had a full repair of TOF with an "excellent surgical outcome." In fact, if nothing unusual occurs overnight, she may be discharged as early as tomorrow! Aveen's mother cried tears of joy upon hearing this, while her daughter's smile grew more confident. My heart is so full of thanks for God's grace toward Aveen. Only He can heal the heart in such a miraculous way.

Aveen's Surgery: Witnessing a Heart Change

Posted on Fri, 03/23/2012 - 18:32 by Liliya Semenyuk

*This blogs spans three days: pre-surgery day, surgery day, and post-surgery day.

Pre-surgery Day: Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It is still 4 days until Aveen's surgery...or so we thought.

When waiting for surgery, we try to be creative in how we spend our days with the families. On Wednesday of this week, we had a delightful afternoon at a park in Jerusalem, celebrating the Kurdish New Year, which also coincides with the first day of spring. The traditional Kurdish food on this day is dolma, a delicious dish!

The playground is not reserved only for little kids; it's for big kids, too! Aveen particularly enjoyed her time on the swing. Then we took a walk through the park, acquiring a lovely wild white rose along the way.

Upon returning home and settling in for the evening, a phone call suddenly came in from the hospital:

Aveen Returns to Jerusalem, Awaiting Surgery

Posted on Wed, 03/14/2012 - 21:21 by Kristina Kayser

Aveen was discharged from Sheba this afternoon after a smooth recovery from her catheterization. Medical staff monitored her thru the night last night to make sure no complications of bleeding occurred. When I spoke with Dr. Danielle earlier, he said that she was free to return to Jerusalem. He also added that Aveen's case would be presented to the team of cardiologists tomorrow. I imagine they will be like master architects huddled over a set of blueprints that call for the meticulous restoration of an endangered structure. It is a living heart they're dealing with, however, that beats within a lovely women. 

Both Aveen and her mother lit up when I walked into their room at Sheba. They were so happy to go home. Even though it's a place they hardly know, I'm happy they consider Shevet Achim a place of refuge. And may it continue to serve as such for many more families. Before departing, one last stop was made on the fourth floor. We couldn't leave without saying goodbye to Yaqoob and his grandmother. And in a Kurdish woman's eyes, it is not a proper visit unless something is served. We sat for several minutes, enjoying a glass of juice and each other's company, and then made our farewell. Aveen clutched the flower bouquet she was given yesterday, her face serious but quick to return a smile. As she and her mother wait for the outcome of tomorrow's meeting, I pray they rest well at home. And may they find in the Lord the ultimate place of refuge.

A Global Effort for Aveen’s Catheterization

Posted on Tue, 03/13/2012 - 22:51 by Liliya Semenyuk

Beautiful. Simply Beautiful. That's the only way I can describe the picture of how people from different cultures and languages have come together to save Aveen