Shadyan's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

A Beautiful Little Face

Posted on Mon, 02/15/2016 - 21:54 by Agnes Bruna
One of the people I really looked forward to seeing when we were in Kurdistan, was Shadyan and her family. We had so enjoyed her stay in Israel. She has a sweet little face and after the surgery she just glowed.
After we watched her mother develop an amazing relationship with her daughter, we were curious to see the aunt who was so close to her before her coming to Israel. We were also curious to see if her mother managed to keep up her relationship with Shadyan.
We met Shadyan’s sisters, 18 and 14 years old. They talked about the schools in Kurdistan being closed for a month already because of the financial crisis. And of course we ate with them--always a joy in Kurdistan.
We praise God for this loving family. We praise God that Shadyan looks good, healthy, and happy. And we praise God for Shadyan’s mother’s close relationship with this beautiful little girl. We can’t wait to see how she will grow into a beautiful young woman thanks to the surgery she had in Israel.

Farewell to Shadyan

Posted on Sun, 12/13/2015 - 23:16 by Maureen Grimshaw

Following our last posting for Shadyan on December 8 and 9th when she received her final echo report and left for home the following evening, we recall the story of this little girl’s progress over her three and a half months with us at Shevet Achim.

When Shadyan and her mother arrived in Jerusalem on September 1st 2015 she was often very upset and unable to sleep. Her mother had difficulty calming her since she had not been her primary care giver since her birth. Due to an illness of Shadyan’s mother her aunt had taken care of her, so the bonding process between mother and daughter had to begin while they were with us at Shevet. Gradually, we began to see a change in both of them, and soon it was obvious they needed each other. The frequent crying changed into much laughter and many smiles.    

After the doctor's first echo reports there were high hopes Shadyan was expected to survive her surgery for AV septal defect. However, she was already showing signs of apparent breathlessness, which was difficult to manage on occasions.

For various reasons her surgery was postponed several times, but finally the day arrived. On the 1st of November she was operated on successfully.

The recovery was not as smooth as we had expected and she began to show signs of respiratory distress several days following the surgery. The days began to be difficult for Shadyan, which caused feeding problems and apparent nervousness -- which often happens to the children following medical interventions.

Finally, after a couple of weeks Shadyan was discharged from Wolfson for a recovery period with us. The doctors began to express concern her surgery was not as successful as they had thought originally, and she may have to come back for a second surgery in the future because Shadyan was developing heart failure.

Prayers went up for this little girl. After high hopes in the beginning, we cried out to the Lord on her behalf. None of us wanted to see her going home with a poor prognosis.

After the first post-hospital discharge echo the doctors told us Shadyan would need close follow-up in the future, and if she progressed enough the second surgery could be performed in a few years.

The second echo proved to be a surprise and the third was an even greater surprise. The heart showed signs of significant improvement and on the 12th of December we were thrilled to hear Dr Alona say the heart had recovered so much there were only signs of mild valve regurgitation. This would mean Shadyan could go home without the need for future surgery. This was a special case in which the heart had been subject to extensive trauma during surgery and was so swollen that time was needed for it to regain normal size and allow the valves to operate as they should.

Dr. Alona proudly exclaimed they simply needed patience to wait for the heart to recover. This had been a significant learning process for them. This is another praise report for us both for Shadyan's recovery and for her contribution to the medical team's experience. 

The goodbye party took place, as mentioned earlier, with much elation on the evening of her discharge echo.

Shadyan was able to go home the next day. 

Both mother and baby arrived safely in Kurdistan with laughter and a joyful welcome from their family.

Shadyan's Final Echo and Send-off

Posted on Tue, 12/08/2015 - 21:01 by Co-authored

From Maureen:
With high hopes we took Shadyan for her final echo yesterday, and we were not disappointed. Doctor Alona was very happy with the results, as it showed a huge improvement since the previous echo last week.  It showed that the heart had settled down and that the valves were functioning well, with only mild regurgitation.  If Shadyan continues to progress with her growth and energy like she has in the past two weeks, it seems she will probably not need the follow-up surgery recommended after last week’s echo. We were all surprised at this wonderful report. The mother needed to ask several times before she could believe the doctor’s report. 

The evening was filled with excitement for Shadyan’s mother as she hurriedly contacted the family with the good news.  Preparations went underway immediately back at Shevet house for her farewell party the same night.  We gave Shadyan and her mother carefully chosen gifts with warm words – shared by everyone about Shadyan and her mother. And we had tea and biscuits, after which we all rallied around for photographs and special hugs.  Shadyan laughed a lot with her usual beguiling smile and laughter.  

We will all miss them as we do each child when they are ready to go home. We praise God for yet another good report and pray they will one day know our Saviour, who is the giver of all good gifts.

From Agnes:

Ruth and I had the privilege of accompanying Shadyan and her mother to the airport to start their journey back home. As Shadyan’s mother got in the van, she was still sobbing in grief because of the goodbyes she had to say to all of us after three and a half months spent here. In the van, we discussed some practicalities, which calmed her down somewhat. She also asked again if we were sure Sulaymaniyah airport would be open. The airport had been closed for 48-hours because of Allied action against ISIS, but praise God, it re-opened a few hours before their expected arrival.

In the airport we got our usual cooperation from the security team. I was so blessed to have Ruth with me – her translation into Kurdish was invaluable. I have done this now numerous times, and every time I am touched by the willingness of the security people to help make the checks as painless as possible. Most of the supervisors know us now (“Oh yes, we have heard about Shevet Achim”), but the one involved this time had not. This gave me the opportunity to share what we do and why. The final comments are always: “Please keep doing what you are doing; it is such important work, not just for the children, but also for Israel.”

When we got to the Royal Jordanian check-in booth, all three clerks present recognized me from previous trips. The lady initially dealing with us fell immediately in love with Shadyan – of course she did. Shadyan smiled her irresistible smile at her! During the checks and procedures, all three clerks got involved discussing both what we do and how they admire our work and love the children. Again, I got every cooperation I needed even though it takes quite some time.

And then, the final surprise came. After explaining to Shadyan’s mother what she needed to do when we left and when she arrived in the airport in Amman, we walked past a table with some African ladies and children. I briefly wondered if they could have a connection with our partners, Save a Child's Heart (SACH), but did not know them and walked past. And then Ruth called us back because they were indeed African children helped by SACH. Photo opportunity!

Sadly, for Shadyan’s mother there was now less than an hour left until boarding. And with the passport checks still to come, she definitely needed that time, so there was no time for long visits.

So, we hugged and kissed, and hugged again, and then sent them off through the glass doors on their own. It is always bitter-sweet, and hard not to worry, but a good exercise in entrusting them to the good care of our Lord. This morning Ruth received the eagerly awaited phone call: they have arrived back in Kurdistan in northern Iraq and are safely home.

Shadyan's Echo

Posted on Mon, 11/30/2015 - 14:18 by Maureen Grimshaw

Shadyan was taken to Wolfson for an echo test today after being released from hospital last week.  Our concern for her was that, a few days after her surgery, she was diagnosed with significant residual leakage in the two main valves that have been operated on.  The doctors were concerned that they would not be able to operate again soon  because of her low weight.  They felt that the surgery could be fatal and that it is wise to postpone any further surgical intervention until she is older.  The problem with this decision was that she would not be able to wait  long for surgery, as the leaking valves were causing significant heart failure. However, we all continued to pray for her that God would intervene.  We were delighted with the results of her echo that showed the leaks to be smaller than initially thought.  This means that, if she continues to show improvement, she will be able to go home soon and return in a few years for a second surgery.  

Shadyan is a special little girl with a winning smile.  People are captured by her playful laugh.  Her innocent trust is a gift from God.   It is particularly stressful to watch her sudden change in mood when medical interventions have to be made and any time separation from her mother occurs, causing Shadyan to cry uncontrollably, which can be detrimental to her heart condition.  So please continue to pray for her recovery both physically and emotionally.  We are helping her mother with a  feeding program to help Shadyan gain weight and to help with the management of her residual mild heart failure. 

We thank God for all our children who come here for surgery and especially for those like Shadyan who suffer emotionally from medical interventions.   For the next echo, which we hope will be her final, next Monday, the doctors will use some sedation to calm her through the procedure.   This will also give more accurate results before deciding on her discharge.

Smiling Shadyan

Posted on Wed, 11/25/2015 - 20:34 by Miriam Svensson
Shadyan was transfered to the children's ward again a couple of days ago. Today she was considered well enough to be discharged from the hospital. Maureen and I went there in the afternoon to take her and her mother back to our Jerusalem home. Shadyan was happy and smiling when we came to the ward. While Maureen talked to the doctor I got a chance to take some pictures.
Shadyan will need to go back to the hospital on Monday for a new echocardiogram. After that, we hope that the doctors will be able to determine how to go on. Please join us in prayer for sweet Shadyan! Although her case might be complicated, nothing is too difficult for our Lord. Pray also for her concerned and caring mother, and for the doctors to make wise decisions.

Happily in Secondary

Posted on Sun, 11/22/2015 - 20:43 by Jesse Tilman

Shadyan is happily in secondary ICU now. No drainage tubes, no IV medication lines, and little fluid near her lungs. Her mother still has many worries and asks for the doctor to update her often, but Shadyan is doing well.

We still don't know about the question of what they will decide to do about the small holes in her heart or the valves. For now, at least, she is growing stronger so that she will be able to face the future of a probable further surgery.

Back in ICU

Posted on Tue, 11/17/2015 - 18:08 by Alexa Bigl

After Shadyan had her remaining chest tube removed from her left side this morning, the follow-up x-ray showed her right lung now has fluid around it. Since the cause of the fluid build-up is related to her remaining heart issues, the doctors are hopeful that strong cardiac medications will reduce this fluid buildup. For closer observation while on these medications, Shadyan was moved back into the ICU.

While Shadyan’s mother had a lot of questions and concerns about their move back to the ICU, she was cheerful and calm with Shadyan.

The questionable second surgery is more of a reality now with the latest echo and continued issues with fluid retention. On top of the two leaking heart valves we learned about last week, Shadyan also has at least one more hole in the septum/wall between her lower heart chambers, the ventricles. We don’t know when this second surgery will take place, and the surgeons will need to be in a lot of discussion to decide methods and approaches. Both the septal hole(s) and the valve repairs are complicated.

Shadyan continues to smile and sleep well despite all she is going through, so thank you for your faithful prayers.

Beautiful, Dark Eyes

Posted on Sun, 11/15/2015 - 20:44 by Miriam Svensson

Two days ago Shadyan had an echocardiogram done that revealed that two of her heart valves are leaking. This could mean that she eventually will need another operation. She also had some fluid around one of her lungs and had a chest tube put in.

When we came to visit Shadyan today she still had the chest tube, but seemed to be doing well otherwise. She looked at me with her beautiful dark eyes and smiled when I blew her kisses.

Shadyan's mother was expressing concern for how her daughter is doing. I asked one of the nurses in the ward and was told that apart from the fluid around her lung she is doing ok. She has no fever now and the blood tests that were taken look fine. Dr. Alona was going to do a new echo today and after that they will know if the chest tube can be taken out or if she needs it a little longer.

Thank you for standing with us in prayer for this lovely girl and her patient mother. We trust in God, who is mighty, to do great things.

Shadyan's Unknown Fever

Posted on Thu, 11/12/2015 - 20:50 by Rebekah Yang

This morning we left very early for sweet Doaa’s CT scan. After more than one and a half hours of heavy traffic, we eventually reached the hospital. We rushed into the Children’s ward, however we found out there was a miscommunication between us and the hospital and there would be no scan for Doaa today.

Soon after that, I went to visit our lovely adorable Shaydan and her mother. Not too long later, Dr. Hanita came over for ward rounds and told me to bring Shaydan for an echo follow up. Dr. Hanita was pleased with the results and says her heart condition is pretty good.

Later on, Shadyan’s mother told me that Shaydan had a fever these last few days and last night was not able to sleep. The nurse who took care of her checked her body temperature twice and found she still had a very high temperature between 38.3 to 38.5 degrees Celsius.

The doctor did check her ears and throat and did not find any infection there. At the moment we need to wait for a blood cultures result in order to know what the reason is for Shadyan’s fever.

Again, thank you all for lifting up our little Shaydan and her mother in prayer. May our God’s healing hands continue to work in her body, in the name of Jesus, Amen!     

Laughing Through the Pain

Posted on Wed, 11/11/2015 - 20:42 by Cara VanDusen

This morning I had the privilege of accompanying one of Shevet’s nurses, Maureen, to Wolfson to check on the progress of little Shadyan. Shadyan moved to the regular pediatric ward a few days ago, and continues the journey of recovery from her recent surgery on the first of the month. Shadyan was with her mother when we arrived, but seemed a bit restless and uncomfortable. Maureen noticed that she felt warm and notified Shadyan’s nurse, who rechecked her temperature. She had spiked a fever, so her nurse drew blood cultures and gave Shadyan pain medication to make her more comfortable.

In spite of feeling unwell, Shadyan’s sweet spirit was apparent. She was still able to laugh with us a few times, and share some of those priceless smiles that light up her entire face. It was a relief to see Shadyan feeling better after receiving pain medication, and a comfort to know that she is receiving excellent care by the staff at Wolfson.

Still, Shadyan and her mother are very much in need of prayer. Please continue to pray for healing for this sweet girl. Pray that her blood cultures will come back negative, and that she will recover without infection or complications. Pray for her wonderful mother, who welcomed us in the hospital room that has become her home, and insisted that we sit down and drink tea. Pray that she would continue to have energy and peace in this stressful situation, and pray that she and her family would come to know the Source of all true peace.