Her heart stopped. Right before my eyes I was watching this girl, my friend, who I had been having dinner with the night before, sprawled out on an operating table with her chest cut open. In order to replace Ninelle’s malfunctioning heart valve the surgeons had to stop her heart and put her on the bipass machine which kept her blood circulating throughout her body while her heart was being cut upon. It was a very tense 7 hours.
Ninelle is a beautiful and stoic 28 year old young lady. She has been a patient at Pioneer Hospital in the Republic of Congo for years. When Ninelle was five she became ill with rheumatic fever which wrecked havoc on her heart. Due to her poor health she was never able to go to school and is illiterate (yet very intelligent!). Despite her issues, she brought herself to live a relatively normal life. That is until she had her sixth child three years ago. The pregnancy exacerbated her heart failure and she almost lost her life. Since baby Laura was born, she was so weak and out of breath that she could barely walk. She could no longer care for her children and they were distributed to family members.
Thanks to the help of one of Pioneer Hospital’s surgeons, Dr. Elliot Tenpenny, a cardio thoracic surgeon was located at Tenwek Mission Hospital in Kenya who could help Ninelle. As a nurse and one who could translate for her from English to French, I was selected to accompany Ninelle and see her through this complicated surgery. What a privilege to get to know this amazing woman.
On June 21st, Ninelle was blessed with a new heart valve. Her recovery process was not an easy one. She quickly developed pneumonia and required a breathing machine for eleven days. She was incredibly weak and could not even bring her hand to her mouth to feed herself. Luckily she is a stubborn young women with a fervent faith in the Lord and she was determined to regain her independence. Each day I watched with amazement as her strength grew and before I knew it she was walking again. It was time to return to Congo.
We were met at the airport by a swarm of family and friend; with tears of sheer joy and praises to God. Soon after, Ninelle presented her testimony at church as well as for our hospital employees in morning chapel. These employees had been caring for Ninelle for years and were dumbfounded to see this sickly woman who they were sure would die, walking before them thanks to our beautiful creator God.
“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”-Job 5:9