Baby Maria is the second child of a young Kurdish family from the northern region of Iraq. Her family realized something was very wrong just two days after she was born when they noticed Maria had difficulty feeding and breathing. They took her to a local government hospital and quickly discovered that Maria was suffering many complications. After one very long month of diagnostic testing, doctors found complicated issues involving her intestines, lungs, heart and kidneys. One of these conditions was called volvulus which manifests as a twisted intestine. For Maria this alone was a life-threatening condition. She was immediately transferred to a private hospital where a surgery was performed by Dr. Hawkar. The surgery went well however her oxygen was still low and she was still struggling to eat and breath. There was much more to be done to save her little life.
Dr. Zina, A trusted pediatric surgeon working at the Raparin children’s hospital reached out to Love Them All, concerned about Maria’s condition, in desperate need of answers. There was little time to waste as doctors provided Love Them All with all the medical reports. Through consultation with Dr. Aso it was decided that Maria would need an emergency catheterization to prevent her heart from failing. She needed to be transferred by ambulance as soon as possible for a heart catheterization, buying her time to eventually receive open heart surgery.
Maria was transferred to Sulaymaniyah where Dr Aso was joined by Dr Kirk and a visiting team from the US. They performed a diagnostic echo and found that she not only had a heart problem but she also had very bad pneumonia. Pictured on the right is Maria getting an Echo.
Her heart problem was coarctation of the aorta, a narrowing, or constriction, in a portion of the aorta. The condition forces the heart to pump harder to get blood through the aorta and on to the rest of the body. The aorta is the largest artery moving oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
Though it was determined that Maria’s chances were low the doctors decided that a heart catheterization was her only hope to survive. A catheterization was performed and to the amazement of everyone it was successful giving Maria a few more months to live before open heart surgery was needed to fully repair her heart.
At home, Maria’s fight to survive continued with the support of Love Them All as Maria and her parents traveled back and forth from hospital dealing with infection and feeding issues. Maria needed open heart surgery soon. Finally a destination for her heart surgery was found through a generous organization willing to take her in and perform her heart surgery abroad.
After traveling abroad, and fighting through multiple infections the amazing hospital staff was finally able to perform a successful surgery giving Maria a perfectly operating heart. Pictured on the left is Maria awake after open heart surgery.
Still, Maria suffered with eating difficulties and had to be continuously fed through a feeding tube. After a few months of staying abroad Maria and her mother finally came home to the northern region of Iraq and reunited with her sister and parents who were so happy to see her. While home Maria was able to see her grandmother for the first time a few days before her grandmother passed away.
Not long after being home Maria started becoming sick, unable to digest her food. The special milk given to her while she was abroad was no longer available and she was reacting negatively to all formulas available locally. In response, Love Them All volunteers were able to buy the same special formula she had abroad while they were in Belgium and bring back a few months’ supply in their luggage. It turned out to be a life saver! Maria was finally able to keep her new food down, changing her situation dramatically. Pictured on the right is Maria holding her special milk.
Still, more had to be done to get to the bottom of Maria’s ongoing issues. Recent diagnosis showed that one of Maria’s kidneys was Working at 80% and the other at only 20%. Doctors had concluded that kidney surgery for Maria may be required and that genetic testing would be helpful to provide appropriate support. Love Them All was able to fund a comprehensive genetic test which required a sample of blood be sent to Germany. The results came back and Maria was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder.
Pictured on the left is Maria at home sitting with her big sister. Thanks to your continued support Maria’s family is able to see Dr. Aso for regular heart checkups and Dr. Hawkar for kidney checkups. While she still faces challenges Love Them All is committed to standing and fighting with her, providing Maria with access to the best medication and treatment.
Thank you again for your generosity and continued support!