Karina's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, Northern Iraq

Xudê Gelek Basha - God Is Very Good!

Posted on Sun, 01/22/2017 - 05:35 by Ruth Zellweger

Karina and her mother's time in Israel has been full of obstacles and difficulties, but even more of beauty, healing and miracles. During that time both mother and daughter became beloved members of our Shevet family. And now they have returned to their own family in Kurdistan. That they are there is only by the grace of God, there is noone else who could take the credit for it. He gave favor on Thursday when we asked our cardiologists at Wolfson hospital if they would discharge Karina that same day, even though it was planned for this coming Monday. We received the discharge papers in record time. While preparing for a farewell party that same day we tried to get permission to fly from the airline for Karina's mother, who is 36+ weeks pregnant. What a woman! Without ever complaining she cared diligently for her beloved daughter before and after her heart surgery. The permission to fly was denied. 

We still proceeded with the preparation and Thursday evening our Jerusalem and Jaffa communities came together to celebrate Karina's healed heart. We had a wonderful meal lovingly prepared by Naz's mother, and afterwards delcious cake and tea during our time of worship. Everyone particpated and it was ajoyful atmosphere. Afterwards there was time for reflection on the time that Karina and her mother had spent with us. We recalled special memories of how God had intervened several times and sustained Karina's fragile life. Many of us also agreed that both mother and daughter are beautiful and gentle, yet also very strong personalities. Karina is recovering so quickly from her stroke a day after surgery, supported lovingly by her mother. We know it is only because of the grace and mercy of God. 

After the time of sharing Karina and her mother received their gifts and then we all watched Karina's farewell DVD. It is always so special to see the journey the family has been through. When we ended the party we still did not know how it would be even possible for Karina and her mother to return in time to Kurdistan with all the airlines' restrictions for pregnant women. Nevertheless, we wanted to trust God that He has a way where there seems to be no way. 

Since Jonathan was traveling this weekend to Kurdistan we decided to try to get Karina and her mother on a plane in Amman. And so they traveled with him to Jordan via car, without having a Jordanian visa that is required for every Iraqi. However, God opened doors and gave Jonathan favor and a contact among the border officials. They were allowed in the country. Once they reached Amman they had time to rest and relax until noon today. 

Our community understood the severity of the sitution if they were not allowed to fly: Neither could they come back to Israel, nor would they be able to return to Kurdistan before the baby was born. And so we all prayed: In Jordan, in Jerusalem, and here in Jaffa. I was spending some time with our families when the call for prayer came. We all joined in praying for a way to open for Karina and her mother to return to Kurdistan. It was such a special time as we entrusted this big obstacle into God's hand. We ended this time of intercession with a joyful worship song in Kurdish: Xudê Gelek Basha - God Is Very Good!

It wasn't much later that we got word that Karina and her mother were at passport control with Jonathan and soon after at the gate. Our heavenly Father had answered and opened doors that no one could close!

What exciting days, yet so uplifting and faith building, not only for us but also for the families currently living with us. They could experience firsthand how a seemingly hopeless situation could be entrusted to God, and how He intervened. When I shared the good news with them they all started clapping and thanking God.

Karina and her mother are now reunited with their family in northern Iraq, Kurdistan. We continue to pray for a complete recovery for Karina after her stroke, plus for the final days of Karina mother's pregnancy. 

Xudê Gelek Basha. He is very good indeed!

Big Progress!

Posted on Mon, 01/16/2017 - 21:17 by Mattias Hojlund

Today Karina visited the hospital for her second follow-up echo. We had 3 other kids also going to echo exams, where one of them could be discharged, so we all went as a big group with a good spirit. 

Karina is doing so much progress and with her mild and yet stubborn attitude, she started walking with the help of a hand, or a chair pushed in front of her. We spent the waiting time before the echo practicing the walking, and also singing and having fun with the hospital clown that came by. 

The result from the echo was very good for Karina. The doctor says that she might be able to go home, which would be very good for Karina, but also very good for her mom, who's getting closer and closer to her due date.

Join us in our hopes and prayers for Karina. That he'll continue the healing in Karinas heart, and give her strength and courage to keep on in the recovery. And also for Karinas mom and the baby she's carrying will be safe. 

Good Progress and Lovely Fellowship

Posted on Thu, 01/12/2017 - 22:41 by Ruth Zellweger

Karina and her mom on the right

Karina had her first follow-up echo this morning, and I was very curious how much fluid she still had left around her heart. Yfat, the echo technician, skillfully performed the echo and told us that there was only minimal effusion left. What good news! Consequently, the steroid that Karina is on was reduced, and she scheduled for another echo this coming Monday.

Back home, we had a lovely lunch will almost all of our Kurdish families and volunteers. As a first, we enjoyed the meal on the balcony, to the pleasure of everyone. Even though very calm, both Karina and her mother have become dear and beloved members of our Shevet family. 

Please pray with us for a continued healing of Karina's heart and motor skills.

A Special Day

Posted on Mon, 01/09/2017 - 20:46 by Ruth Zellweger

Today marked the day that precious Karina and her mother were able to return to our Jaffa community after nearly three weeks in the hospital.

It was obvious how relieved Karina's mother was when she heard the news that Karina's echo was good, even though she had still some fluid left around her heart. Karina is treated with steroids to get rid of that fluid, and she will have to be gradually weaned off over the next weeks. 

Karina's mother has been greatly encouraged by the prayers from our friends from all over the world. Karina is slowly making progress with the movement of her left arm and leg. She also did not need a new chesttube, which was a possibility after Friday's echo. God is working in Karina's heart physically, but also in the heart of her mother. Our hope and prayer is that we can support and encourage this sweet woman in the next days and weeks. She is getting very close to the time that wouldn't allow her anymore to fly back home. Please join us in praying that Karina would continue to recover quickly, and that she soon would be well enough to return home in time for her mother's impending delivery.

Emotional Echo Follow-Up

Posted on Fri, 01/06/2017 - 00:18 by Rebekah Yang

This morning I was spending time with Karina in the computer room for a music therapy activity, when I was told by a nurse to bring Karina to the echo department for her follow-up. Mama Karina was so happy when she heard that and was full of expectation that we'd hear good news from the echo results. She was hoping that she might able to go back with me to our Jaffa community. 

However, after Karina's echo was finished, the technician told me right away that the result was not good. Unfortunately, Karina would have to stay this week in the children's ward to continue taking medication to reduce fluid around her heart.
Afterward, Dr. Tamir came into the echo room and started a second echo exam to double check her heart condition. It took us quite a while, and really upset Karina. She could not contain her fear, and began screaming and crying. Poor Mama Karina was not able to stop Karina, so she started to weeping too. My heart was weeping with Mama Karina when I saw this difficult moment. I could only hold her hands and encourage her by saying that we all will continue praying for Karina, and not to worry, because Karina will be ok.
Please lift up this tired mum who is eight months pregnant right now. She and Karina need our Messiah's healing power. May He bring them peace and joy - Amen!!

Continued Healing

Posted on Mon, 01/02/2017 - 18:13 by Camila Buitrago

Today more than other days we felt the support you have given us through your prayers, and we are full of joy to know that Karina was transferred to the children's ward. This change is a very good sign for us, however, our prayers continue so that Karina recovers the total movement of her left side. Our hearts continue to be touched by Karina's mom. Today, she felt a little dizzy and tired, but we know this is part of her pregnancy and of course Karina's current situation.

In the afternoon, we played for a while with the gifts the hospital gave Karina in the days of Hanukkah. We saw pictures of animals in a small book and we played talking on a cell phone for a long time. In some moments, Karina tried to play with both hands, but faced with the impossibility of doing that, she sobbed several times. However we have faith soon we will see to her playing as she wishes.

Karina has a beautiful smile, and today I saw it several times as we played together. She is a very sweet and very tender girl.

We will continue to do the work that our Father in Heaven has put into our hands, and at this moment I wonder, what is your part dear reader? Please continue to join us in praying. 

Day By Day

Posted on Wed, 12/28/2016 - 16:14 by Alexa Bigl

There are visible improvements with Karina today. Despite the obvious impairment on her left side currently, Karina is doing well.

She was transferred from the main ICU to the secondary ICU late this morning. She is only on 1L of oxygen which is mixed 60% with room air, with 100% saturation in her blood. Karina's mom is also doing much better. She can see Karina is healing both from the heart surgery and from the brain infarction, which is greatly encouraging her. Today, she happily chatted with me about new families coming next week as she stroked Karinas arm and face.

While there is quite a road in front of Karina recovery-wise, we can only praise God for the improvements we are seeing. When her left foot is tickled, she now can move her toes and also move her entire leg out of reach from the tickling fingers. She still has not shown any movement in her left arm, but she is using her right arm to move it around and hold it up. She is a very smart little girl, and we have to consistently remind ourselves she's not even two years old. She often seems and acts much older, surprising us day by day with her maturity. 

Karina's mom has been taught some stretching and exercises to do with Karina's affected left arm, and she demonstrated the movements to me happy to have something tangible to do that was helping her precious daughter.

I'm already amazed at the miraculous works God is doing for Karina, but we know we can also already praise Him for what He will do in the future for her. Please join us in praising His name and also lifting Karina and her mom into His loving arms. 

Mother's Tears

Posted on Tue, 12/27/2016 - 22:59 by Rebekah Yang

Due to Karina's situation last night, some things had changes since she had seizure. So after I entered Wolfson hospital this morning I decided to go to ICU first to find out what's happened to Karina. Her mum saw me and welcomed with her kisses and then right away she tried to show me Karina's left arm and leg both could not move. She was very worried and did not know what to do. I told her we have been praying for Karina this morning and will continue to pray for her. 

A few minutes later, I met Dr. Houri on the ICU side door, and even before I asked him, he mentioned to me right away that they are waiting for neurology doctors to check for her as well as reading her brain CT results from last night. I told Mama Karina first then prayed for Karina. Afterwards I left to visit Ramin in the Secondary ICU briefly.
When I again went into the ICU, I saw a neurologist had come to examine Karina. I could tell the way she checked was very careful and indeed thorough. When she finished, I wanted to get her report but couldn't. She wanted me to wait until doctors had their run then I will get explanation from them.
Just around noontime, all of the ICU doctors began their run. Eventually, they came to Karina's bed at almost 1pm. Karina's mum saw all the doctors come and she began crying without making any sounds. My heart was also broken with Karina's situation and her mum's desperation. I couldn't say a single word but could only hug her and kiss her head. 
Dr. Houri wanted me to encourage mum not to cry in front of Karina because it may affect her physical condition, however this poor mum's tears were like a water faucet, and kept dropping all that time. A few minutes later, Dr. Houri said they don't know for sure what's causing Karina left limb weakness but possibly it's infarction. However, she has great opportunity to fully recovery after treatment, so please ensure mum not worry but need to be calm and patience with Karina all the time. I shared with Mama Karina about what the doctors said, and again prayed with her to have comfort and peace from our God.
Later on I bought some food from the cafeteria and asked Karina's mum to eat. Praise God she did and I felt peace with her now. I also learned one of my coworkers, Suhail, went to talk with another ICU doctor, and confirmed that Karina did have infarction last night but may able to recover from her stroke after treatment.
Please join us in praying for both our mum and her little girl Karina. Your prayer support is important and valuable to us.
Heavenly Father, you know our sweet Karina is suffering now. Please heal her and let her receive your mighty healing power. In Messiah's name I pray , AMEN!!

Fragile Karina

Posted on Mon, 12/26/2016 - 22:18 by Ruth Zellweger

The day started well for Karina's mother. After a night where she rested well in our Jaffa home, she returned in the morning to the hospital. She went to be with her daughter in the ICU. Around noon time, Karina was extubated and breathing well on her own.

Her mother quietly rejoiced. Karina was laying still in the bed, but making eye contact with me and her mother. After a while I had to say goodbye. 

This evening I had a phone call from Karina's mother who handed the phone to the doctor on duty. She told me Karina had just experienced a seizure and they would do a CT-scan now to see if there was any neurological damage. We ask you to intercede with us for little Karina, who is so beautiful, but also so fragile. May she gain strength and recover without any further complications. What a comforting thought that her life is in God's hands.

A Heart Mended

Posted on Sun, 12/25/2016 - 20:10 by Ruth Zellweger

When I left the house early this morning to be on time for Karina's surgery, I was blessed by a beautiful sunrise.

I took this as a sign that Karina's heart would be beautiful too this afternoon. However, when I arrived at the hospital I realized quickly there was quite a journey ahead of little Karina, a journey more rocky and difficult than for other children. 

The doctor on duty, Dr. Sivan, and several nurses were around Karina's bed, trying to calm her down while Dr. Sivan inserted a new IV cannula. She told me that this was the third cannula she had to insert since the start of her shift yesterday. Karina was exhausted and in pain - and so was her mother, who tried to comfort her. Since Karina's oxygen saturation has been critically low, the medical team took extra precaution to avoid another cyanotic spell. Finally, the cannula was in and the mother allowed to hold her daughter. After Karina had calmed down a little, I gave her a small gift, a pink balloon, of which I know that she likes it very much. She did, and even let me take a picture without her protesting.

But soon she was fighting the oxygen mask again, and it wasn't easy for her mother to calm her down. When she almost couldn't bear the suffering of her daughter much longer, an ICU doctor came to accompany Karina to the operation room.

I was so thankful and relieved when we arrived there. Karina's mother was allowed to say goodbye, and then Karina's was wheeled away. It took a few moments for her mother to process everything, but then she regained her composure and up we went to the Secondary ICU to have tea and breakfast there. The nurse on duty in the Secondary ICU was very kind and realized Karina's mother hadn't had much rest this last night. Quickly she prepared a bed that was empty and let Karina's mother rest there for the remainder of our waiting time. While it is often difficult to find a good place to spend the waiting time during surgery, today we were provided with one that couldn't have been any better. What a blessing - I was reminded of the sunrise in the morning. At 1:45pm, our faithful brother, Ramin's father, texted me to let us know Karina was just wheeled into the ICU. We went there right away and one of the surgeons came out to update us on the surgery: Karina's heart was fully repaired and she is doing well. He mentioned there is a chance that in the future she might have to undergo another surgery on her pulmonic valve, but this is not for sure. I could tell Karina's mother was very relieved. Before we were able to see Karina, our patience was tested, as it took nearly two hours due to other things going on in the ICU. But eventually we made it inside the ICU and could see her with our own eyes.

Her mother looked at her hands and face, making sure that everything was alright. Even though Karina has many tubes and cannulas and wires all over her body, it was obvious the heart repair was a success - the beautiful coloring of her skin gave it away. Karina's mended heart is such a special gift on Christmas Day.

Karina's mother is spending the night in our Jaffa home, and will return in the morning to the hospital to be with her beloved daughter. We praise God for His loving care, provision and perfect timing. To Him be the glory!