Maia's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Still needs $5500
Help Maia

Maia's Bon Voyage

Posted on Fri, 03/16/2018 - 00:48 by Jesse Tilman

How could we ever say goodbye to our beloved little Maia? She has been part of the family for some months and had a ready hug for all. Often she would run to greet someone who had just walked in the door. She was always up for jumping on beds or "helping" us practice guitar.

Her mischievous smile and glee at tearing our projects apart, were just the tip of the iceberg of her indomitable spirit. She loved to practice sweeping the balcony deck, opening and shutting its doors with all her small arms' strength, and then heaving any object at hand overboard the side! I heard stories of volunteers picking up all the fallen items below the deck, only to return upstairs to find Maia playing the game of throwing some more off, grinning the while.
Her mother as well was joy to get to know. Taking care of her daughter's needs with diligence and fire at times, shopping head-on with the clerks for a good bargain, and producing group-size amounts of fried-chicken and rice in no time were a few of her skills. I remember her sweeping up Maia in her arms and swishing off in her long Muslim skirts to take care of her in their room. 
Maia came and went with the same two other children, Bawan and Daru. They were here almost four months! With some of our children leaving in a month recently, Maia's visit felt lengthy. Her relationship with us was deep and we enjoyed seeing her visit the staff side of the house at times. She got to know how to use the nurses equipment, checking the dolls' heart beats, the boys' temperatures, and the patience of anyone who thought they could hold her long!
They made the trip to Jerusalem twice while they were here. The place of God's nearness to mankind was dear to her. Maia and mom valued praying in the Al-Aqsa mosque. She made full use of the special shopping locations along the way too! Her family will receive two very full traveling bags of presents upon her return. It was God's grace they made it through check-in!
Maia's medical work spanned not only the heart surgery to repair her Ebsteins Anomaly, but also a pacemaker implantation when she encountered heart rhythm difficulties. Having a pacemaker was an added worry for her mom. She would ask us questions about it, about going through x-ray machines, about checking it yearly, and about how it will hopefully be grown out of. Maia is her precious daughter, and she is fighting for her!
As Maia's medical work wrapped up, we began making plans for her travels. She was not one of the parents who is OK with traveling alone, so we started looking at who would also be ready to go soon. Her two previous traveling buddies, were finishing up. She was willing to wait at least a week and so things came together soon enough and these three who were already close got to head East together.
God bless you Maia! We'll miss you!  Grow big and strong and beautiful. May you grow closer to the Father in Heaven who made a special work in your life as well. Keep praying and asking, and Messiah will be close to you!

Echo and Pacemaker Check-Up

Posted on Mon, 03/05/2018 - 21:31 by Jesse Tilman

We visited the hospital with our original trio that traveled together a little over 3 months ago. Bawan, Daru, and Maia have been through thick and thin together and have hopes of traveling home together also. 

Maia is finished up and the boys will be next week, Lord willing. So far it looks like Maia's mother wants to wait in order to travel together with them.
Her echo today was a look at a healing heart. They decided to do the pacemaker check today since she could be traveling on Thursday. In Kurdistan she will have checks on it once or twice a year. More echocardiograms as well will keeps tabs on her progress.
Thank you God for this beautiful life! May Maia live long and prosper.

All Good Courses

Posted on Mon, 02/26/2018 - 21:35 by Noelle Chung

Maia had an another appointment today. She has recently enjoyed so much being here at our home with us. She started to talk, and her language skills are vocabularies are amazingly developing fast. She is so clever girl with a beautiful appearance. 

Today’s echo results were all good. They will check another echo some time next week, and then she might go home to Kurdistan. 
Maia’s mum is such a joyous and delightful lady. She loves to cook for us and to have good relationships with us. She is looking forward to going back to Kurdistan to reunite with her family. 
One day, I saw Maia playing with a baby doll, playing bringing the baby to the hospital to have an echo check. I realized that she is processing and dealing with her courses of sickness very well, and even proceeding to positive view points. I am so impressed by this young child’s indomitable high spirit. At the same time I am looking forward to her bright future. 
God reveals his image through the intricateness of many aspects of human beings. We hope that God will open Maia and her family’s eyes to see his glory and wonders.

Outpatient Visit

Posted on Mon, 02/19/2018 - 22:21 by Noelle Chung

Today, we excorted Maia to the hospital for an echocardiogram check-up. The results were very good, so the doctor suggested a decrease in her oral medication. If the results are good next week, she might be able to fly home to Kurdistan. Mum was happy to hear the news. Maia also had her two stitches taken out on her lower chest.

Maia’s mum showed us photos of her family. Maia has pretty sisters and brothers, just like her.
After we got home, we joined some other families on a shopping trip to a nearby market. Maia fell asleep while the parents looked at goods at the market. She must have been tired after having a long day and crying during the check-up.
We thank God that he gave us good news after many events and ups and downs. We pray that God, who is endlessly merciful, will lead Maia and her family to see him and know him, who saved Maia’s life.

Pacemaker on Track

Posted on Sun, 02/18/2018 - 16:50 by Maxine Stuart

Today Maia went to Wolfson to get her pacemaker checked. Mum had her looking super cute and she turned a few heads today! 

She was the perfect little patient, waiting quietly and patiently to see the doctor.

She did not like it when the ECG stickers were put on, but after Mum calmed her, she got through the test. Doc reported that the pacemaker is operating perfectly, he saw no problems at all. He said that her stitches are almost ready to be removed, and that he'd like to give the pacemaker another check before she returns to Kurdistan. Maia's mum was very happy with the good news and so are we!

A Good Day

Posted on Thu, 02/15/2018 - 00:47 by Johanna Ebert

Alena, Maia's mum, Maia and I started our trip to Wolfson for her next echo today. Maia was in a pretty good mood and was laughing with Alena all the time during the drive.

Because Thursday is not the official echo day, the doctor was immediately available. Also the result from the echo seemed well, according to the doctor. It was so good for the mum to hear positive feedback, after the shock that Maia needs a pacemaker.

On our way back to the car, we crossed the shopping mall and we had few minutes for shopping, that was a pleasure for Maia's mum. A Good DayAt the end I guess it was a good day for all of us and we are very thankful for it.


Posted on Mon, 02/12/2018 - 01:30 by Noelle Chung

On the fourth day after the pacemaker insertion, Maia is very stable, although she does not have a good appetite. The pacemaker works well, and swellings of upper extremities and face also have decreased. So she was discharged today and came home with us. She is waiting for an echocardiogram follow-up and pacemaker check-up. 

She was excited to walk around in the hospital and to try different parts of the playground.

At home, she showed gladness to meet our volunteer team again. 

Maia Moved to the Children's Ward!

Posted on Sun, 02/11/2018 - 21:38 by
This morning we visited Maia at Wolfson hospital, where she is now in the children’s ward. She was moved from ICU yesterday and is making a slow but steady recovery. Although the doctors explained that her facial swelling in the morning is very normal following her procedure, they would like to keep her in the ward for another one to two days as she is still very weak and exhausted.
Mama Maia was very happy to see us, greeting us with a kiss on each cheek. We handed her some rice soup made by the ladies back at Shevet, and Maia managed to enjoy a decent amount which was good to see as her food options are limited on her current no-fat diet. 
All in all, seeing Maia manage a few smiles and even a cheeky giggle was very reassuring, and we pray that she’ll make a full recovery very soon Lord willing.
Written By: Liza Koens

Maia Gets a Pacemaker

Posted on Thu, 02/08/2018 - 16:24 by Alexa Bigl
Yesterday morning, our team went to visit Maia to find she had gone for an echocardiogram. They waited for the results of that and the 24-hour ECG while playing and eating with Maia. The results were mixed. The good news was the fluid around Maia's heart has decreased. But the cardiology team also diagnosed Maia with complete AV block. So, the electrical system of her heart is not firing correctly. This is the explanation behind Maia's extremely low heart rate. Upon reaching the diagnosis, Maia was brought to the ICU for close observation while the team decided on treatment options. 
In the end, it was decided Maia needed to have an internal pacemaker and defibrillator surgically inserted. We arrived to the hospital around 5:30 last night to be with Maia and her mom for the operation. Before being brought down to the operating theater, we had the opportunity to talk over with Maia's mom what was going on, what the plan was, and answer some questions she had. Maia was very tired and not looking so well as she was drifting in and out of sleep; her heart rate often dropping below 50bpm. Right before 6:30, Maia was ready to be wheeled down and a team of four medical personnel accompanied us down the elevators.
At the pre-op room, it was like a ghost town. After a while, some doctors and nurses started filing in and we signed consent forms with Maia's mom.
Maia regained some energy and was crying, but the team was soon ready to bring her in for sedation and intubation.
Once Maia was asleep, her mom came out and we headed back upstairs. 
After sitting in the mall area of the hospital and having a coffee, Maia's mom was stabilizing emotionally and we were able to talk more about the pacemaker. We had the time to go over educational materials about the pacemaker; what it does, how it works, things to avoid, short and long term follow-up care, etc. Maia's mom did a great job taking it all in and taking pictures and notes to ensure she would remember all the important points necessary for Maia to recover well and remain healthy and thriving. 
Two hours after Maia went in, we were able to meet her as she was wheeled back up to the ICU. Although still intubated and asleep, she was already looking much better.
And the heartbeat on the monitor screen showed 106bpm; perfect for Maia's age and size! It took the ICU about 45 minutes to have her set-up and allow Mom to go in and be with Maia. Her mom was teary as she stroked her daughter, but extremely relieved to hear Dr. Hagi satisfactorily say it went very well. She has the small device under her skin, hidden from sight and safe from the world, with the wires traveling down into her heart to stimulate the correct beating patterns. The pacemaker only gives electrical signals if Maia's physiological system does not give the correct ones. So, we are praying Maia's heart recovers from the electrical blockage and can start simulating the heart to beat correctly on its own. Then the pacemaker will have less and less work. We are hopeful and praying that in 5-7 years when the pacemaker would either need a battery replacement or even a complete device replacement, that Maia's heart's electrical system will be restored and the pacemaker can be removed completely! 
Today, Maia has been extubated and is being weaned from an oxygen mask now. We are praying God's hand to be present in getting Maia back on track for recovery. We pray for her mother to remain hopeful and strong. And we praise the Lord Maia's heart is beating at a normal pace and rhythm again; amen!

Maia's Second Echo

Posted on Mon, 02/05/2018 - 18:43 by Coby van Wijhe
Maia had her second echo this morning. The doctor from Kenya performed the echocardiogram. Although the Kenyan doctor was very gentle, Maia cried a lot during the echo. It was sad to see because it looked like she was in pain.
Mom felt also sad and cried to see her daughter in this uncomfortable situation. We had some concerns about Maia's healing process, so I discussed this with the doctor. Her heartbeat is very low for her age. She is not eating and drinking well and her face is still swollen. 
The doctor decided to admit Maia again. There is some fluid around her heart. They will start her on steroid medication and tomorrow they will do a 24-hour echocardiogram. This afternoon the pediatric surgeon will also visit her because of some complains about pain in her right arm. 
The cardiologist was not worried. She said that Maia had a difficult operation and that these symptoms are seen often, because the body needs time to adjust to the new situation. We brought Maia to the ward and while mom was gone to get some food, I tried to comfort Maia by watching some children's Kurdish songs on my phone. When I left Maia she felt much better and hopefully she will eat some food together with mom.
Please pray for Maia's heart. May our Lord give complete healing to her.