Ayleen's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Tearful Gratitude

Posted on Wed, 08/09/2017 - 21:45 by Dayo Martin

Last night we celebrated Ayleen and her mother's time in Israel with a goodbye party. We ate food, sang songs, and enjoyed each other's company for one last time. 

When it was time for everyone to share stories or words of encouragement with the families, Ayleen's mother stood up and, while in tears, expressed her gratitude for the work Shevet Achim has done to help her daughter.

Ayleen was very excited to open all of her presents and immediately ran off to start playing with them.

A couple of hours later we had to say our final goodbyes.

It was bittersweet as we were happy to see them return to their family but would also very much miss their presence here at Shevet. We wish them the best and pray that Ayleen will live a long, healthy life. 

Stronger Than When She Came

Posted on Mon, 08/07/2017 - 22:48 by Maxine Stuart

Today Ayleen had her final echocardiogram. Because of her tearful response to last week’s echo, the doctor thought that she might need to be sedated to perform today’s echo. Thankfully, she didn’t actually need sedation because the doctor had the idea to allow Ayleen’s mum to hold her during the echo, which worked. The doctor was very pleased with what she saw, even commenting that Ayleen now has one of the most beautifully functioning valves she has ever seen! She cleared Ayleen to go home, and the discharge papers are on their way. Ayleen’s mum was so happy to hear this news! She can now turn her thoughts to home. They will make the journey back to Iraq sometime in the next 48 hours. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for this cheeky, fun, and joyful girl. She is going home much stronger than when she came.

A Mother's Love

Posted on Mon, 07/31/2017 - 22:12 by Maxine Stuart

Today Ayleen had another successful post-surgery echocardiogram. The doctor said she will have her final echo next week, which means she could be cleared to fly home soon! However, she will need to be sedated during the echo as there were a lot of tears during today’s test.  Ayleen is a happy child, but does not like hospital equipment. This morning she went to the hospital with 2 other families from Shevet Achim.

We had to wait a while as there was quiet a queue. While we were waiting, Ayleen and the other children were happily playing in the waiting area, but then Ayleen accidentally fell on the plastic kiddie-chair she was pushing around. She was fine, just a little shocked and sore. However, she was just out of view of her mother, who quickly ran to pick her up. Both Ayleen and her Mum came back crying. You see, Ayleen's mom had assumed the worst and was in a panic until she saw there was no damage to Ayleen’s chest, and Jonathan (one of our staff) was able to explain how she fell, and assure her she didn’t land on any surgery scars. As I consoled Ayleen's mom, a lady who is always so calm and joyful, I saw through her heavy sobs the underlying stress that a parent goes through having a child with a serious condition. This is a woman who can quite happily fall asleep to the sound of gunfire from the 3 years she lived in a dangerous location in northern Iraq. How quickly she was brought to tears is a reminder of a mother’s love for her little one, and the weight she carries. It is a privilege that we get to help children, but sometimes the true fighters are their parents. Please keep the Mums, Dads, older brothers and sisters of the children in your prayers. 

Another Good Echo

Posted on Sun, 07/23/2017 - 22:59 by Rebakah Yang

This morning Samara, Maria, and I brought Ayleen and her mum to the hospital for a post-surgery echocardiogram follow-up.

Upon our arrival, there was quite a long queue of other children also waiting for an echo. Ayleen and her mum were very patiently waiting. At noontime it was still not her turn yet, so they went went to the cafeteria for a quick lunch.
Eventually it was Ayleen's turn. Dr. Sagi gave us a very good report that Ayleen's heart is doing very well. She will continue the same medication until next Monday, when she will have another echo.
Please join me in thanking our Messiah, who is the true healer of Ayleen. And also keep praying for this mother and daughter as they continue living in our Shevet community. May Yeshua bring them peace and provide them strength daily, amen.

Discharged Back to Jaffa!

Posted on Sun, 07/16/2017 - 22:45 by Dayo Martin

Today, we visited Ayleen in the hospital. Just as we arrived they sent us upstairs for her echo which would determine whether or not she would be able to be discharged and return to our house in Jaffa. There were a lot of children in the waiting room and it took longer than expected.

Ayleen, who seemed to be having a rough day, started to get restless. Her mother calmed her by rocking her in her stroller and playing cartoons on her IPad. After a while, it was her turn to go in and get her echo. She did not like having to lie still and quickly became frustrated.

So again her mother distracted her with cartoons. Once the test was done the doctor delivered the good news that her heart looked great and she would be discharged later that day! She and her mother are very excited to return home!

Recovering Smoothly

Posted on Wed, 07/12/2017 - 23:15 by Shea Lindsay

We visited beautiful Ayleen today in the children’s ward, and she seem to recovering smoothly! She had an echo today, and the doctors were pleased with her progression in so far. There was a small amount of fluid around her heart that will hopefully subside on its own. We showed up to the hospital with a bunch of markers and some paper and Alexa held up the paper for her to draw on, which absolutely made her light up with joy!

She is trying to get used to having the cannula coming out of her hand, so it was interesting to watch her switch the marker from hand to hand, trying to figure out how to draw. Ayleen’s mother is doing a splendid job caring for her - she always has a keen sense of just the right thing to do to keep her content and happy. Ayleen loves the little snacks from the vending machine down the hall, too. She is sleeping well and is getting a little more compliant with the doctors when they need to take her temperature or blood or something of the sort. Keep praying for a quick recovery!

The Triumphs and the Struggles

Posted on Mon, 07/10/2017 - 21:37 by Alexa Bigl
Ayleen and her mom are doing very well today. Ayleen has been moved to the children's ward! Yesterday's echo looked great! There is no fluid accumulation and the heart repair is looking fantastic. After much discussion about what type of repair would be best for Ayleen over these past weeks, it turns out they were able to do a full repair where both ventricles and all valves are correctly doing their assigned jobs. Her heart is recovering very well and we are excited to see her continued progress. 
On some other fronts Ayleen still has some barriers and struggles. For starters, she is quite traumatized by all that has happened these past days and is scared of the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff. She was also scared when I first approached her this morning, but by the end of the day we had some smiles together as we played and her mom assured Ayleen I was a friend. 
They tried weaning Ayleen off her oxygen yesterday, but her saturation decreased without the supplemental 0.5L/min. Upon further investigation they diagnosed an infection in her left lung. They are treating it with antibiotics, inhalation treatment, position changes, and physiotherapy. So, we hope that will be all cleared up very quickly and Ayleen will be able to run around without a nasal cannula for the supplemental oxygen. Thank you for joining us in praying for sweet Ayleen and her kind-hearted mother. 

On the Road to Recovery!

Posted on Thu, 07/06/2017 - 22:43 by Shea Lindsay

After having surgery yesterday with little forewarning that it was scheduled, Ayleen was extubated this morning and held in the ICU for further evaluation. She is a feisty one! She has a lot of spunk and energy and she is so full of life- a recipe that is not very suitable for being held for a long period of time on a hospital bed, and being constrained by a plethora of wires and tubes.

She so badly wants to just jump off the table to go play and be a kid. But for the time being, her mother is doing an incredible job soothing her so that she could get some rest during this crucial time of recovery.

Her vitals were looking good and her heart is sustaining a consistent beat, which was beautiful in it of itself. She will be closely monitored these next couple days and weeks as she recovers from her difficult surgery, but she is a fighter, and she is on the road to recovery! Ayleen's mother is so good at loving her daughter with all of her heart and comforting her, so the best thing that I could do for them today was stand by her mom's side today and encourage her and love HER to the best of my abilities, so that she could continue to be the strong mama that her daughter needs.

We prayed together over her daughter as soon as Ayleen was extubated, and it was a beautiful time of thanksgiving and peacefulness amoungst the hustle and bustle happening around us. Keep praying that Ayleen with recover with no further complications and that she will be healthy and that the lord will restore her energy! 

The Journey to a Healed Heart

Posted on Wed, 07/05/2017 - 21:08 by Alexa Bigl

Ayleen's mom wanted to surprise her husband that today was Ayleen's surgery day. So she didn't tell him until after Ayleen was finished with her operation and stable in the ICU. It was fun to have this spark of joking intertwined in the long day. And it's exciting to know not only is Ayleen's heart repaired but she and her mom are a huge step closer to being with Ayleen's brother and dad again in Kurdistan! 

Ayleen was wheeled down to the pre-op room at 7:30am. While afraid at first, Ayleen soon started playing in the room. There were many toys and also fun seats to try out so Ayleen was enjoying herself after she had some time to adjust to the surroundings. Once the staff was ready, Ayleen and her mom headed into the operation room where Ayleen got her sedation medication before saying goodbye to Mom. 
Then we began our day of waiting. Ayleen's mom did great, she kept herself busy for many hours to help the time pass. She helped Dima and Ania's mothers, chatted with other families at the hospital, spent time in the hospital garden, and walked around the shopping mall. It was so sweet to see how she was helping the other moms while she was undergoing so much emotional stress. 
Around 1:30pm we headed down to the waiting area outside the operating theater. We saw one of Wolfson's heart surgeons and got updated that Ayleen's surgery was almost over. A few minutes later the cardiologist came down for a final review. After quite some time Ayleen's mom was starting to become worried but then another doctor came out to update us they were closing Ayleen's chest. This typically takes 30-45 minutes, but Ayleen's took a bit longer. So when she was finally wheeled out around 4:20pm we were very relieved to see beautiful Ayleen! 
The initial reports are all very positive. Ayleen's repair went well! Tomorrow and the coming days, like with every child undergoing heart surgery, will be vital in determining how well Ayleen's heart will respond and look after surgery.
Please be praying with us! We are also hopefully Ayleen will be extubated either tomorrow or Friday. Her mom is already ready for her daughter to be awake, but we are also happy her mom can return to the Shevet house tonight for rest. Thank you for covering this family with prayer as Ayleen continues on her journey towards a healed heart! 

Suprisingly Admitted for Surgery

Posted on Tue, 07/04/2017 - 23:26 by Debbie Sturm

This afternoon we got a call that we should bring Ayleen to the hospital because she will have sugery tomorrow. Ayleen has waited such a long time and her mother was happy and worried in the same time about the news that her daughter will finally have surgery. After she had packed we went together to the hospital where we were welcomed by Shea, another volunteer, and Dima and her mother. Ayleen recognized directly where we are and started crying as soon as we entered the children ward.

We waited for a while and after she was admitted we went to the playground to play. Ayleen was really happy and enjoyed the playing. For a while she forgot that we are in a hospital. But as soon as she had to leave the playground because the nurses wanted to do a bloodtest she was upset again and cried a lot. Finally all tests for today were done and she could sit in her bed and play with the toys she brought with her. Please pray for some rest tonight since mother and daughter are both stressed.