She was transferred out of Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis, where her home had been in the NICU there since she was 20 days old. Siddiqui, as her team of NICU caregivers adoringly called her, was born prematurely at 34 weeks gestation by C-section after her mother’s OB physician determined shewasdisplayinganon-reassuring trend during fetal monitoring.
Siddiqui was diagnosed with a pulmonary valve defect while still in utero, but shortly after birth, she was found to also be suffering from additional multiple congenital heart defects, and a chromosome disorder with associated seizures.
So far in Siddiqui’s short life, she has underwent three major cardiovascular surgical procedu res to repair and reconstruct portions of her heart defects. Following the first of those complex surgeries, Siddiqui met post-op complications resulting in severe ventricular dysfunction and congestive heart failure, which placed her in need of ECMO support for six days.
During Siddiqui’s course of illness and treatments at Cardinal Glennon, her parents, Mohamad and Sana Siddiqui,were at their fragile daughter’s bedside and very involved in her care. In the last several weeks that Siddiqui remained in the NICU in GCCMC, her father, a physician, had completed his residency and accepted a fellowship position in Dallas,TX,which started on July 1st. Therefore,h ehad to relocate his family’s primary residence to Dallas.
Siddiqui’s mother, Sana, remained in St. Louis with her daughter. This became a significant financial and psychological hardship for the family. Sana had to make a very difficult decision, and joined her husband in Dallas in late July. At that time,Siddiqui was progressing with her recovery and her parents remained hopeful and prayed their daughter would continue to gain strength and soon receive approval from her NICU medical team to safely travel to her new home and closer to her parents while she continues her rehabilitation.
The time apart was difficult for the Siddiqui family, as Mohamad and Sana were unsure how long they would have their family separated.
Realistically, they knew if their daughter suffered another set back, it could be months before she could safely make the 600 mile journey. In the meantime, the wonderful staff in the NICU of RN’s, RT’s, APN’s, social workers, and physicians, eased the separation by making sure Siddiqui was kept in touch with her parents regularly by “Facetime”.
In early August, Siddiqui’s parents received the news from her doctor they had prayed for, that their baby girl was stable enough to travel. Although Siddiqui was considered stable,her complex medical conditions rendered her still critical and volatile to stress, requiring her to be m onitored very closely. Siddiqui was very limited on reserves, and was at high risk for decompensating rapidly if her delicate cardiovascular system was met with stress.
With a 600 mile destination, ground travel was not an option for this fragile baby girl. She would need a travel arrangement that would safely deliver her to her new home in the shortest time frame possible, with a special transport team that could anticipate any stress related complications and quickly identify any need for interventions.
By the grace of God, Mohamad and Sana were referred to Grace On Wings for the needed travel arrangements. Even though they practice their faith through the Muslim religion, they called upon us, a Christian based organization, to help them in their time of need. Siddiqui’s heritage originates in Pakistan, where her parents are from. As Muslims, they now live in a country where the populations are predominantly Christians. Mohamad and Sana are clearly educated, both hold degrees from graduate schools they attended in the U.S., but it’s unclear what their understanding and interpretation of Christianity is, and I don’t know if they struggled with the decision to place their daughter in the hands of Grace On Wings.
It is clear, however, that the Siddiqui family were at peace with their decision, and their faith provided them with comfort to entrust Grace On Wings to care for their sick daughter without regard for any religious differences. In fact, Sana felt a connection with regard to the compassion she was given by the Grace On Wings staff. Unfortunately we live in a world where we hear of constant battling and innocent sacrifices in the name of religion, especially in the Middle East. I can’t speak for this family and claim to know specific challenges or encounters they have had with other Christians while living in the U.S., and I can only hope they have been welcomed with peace and acceptance by others.
Siddiqui did wonderful and tolerated the flight beautifully! As we arrived to her new hospital room in the pediatric ICU at Dallas Children’s Hospital, we were met with a room full of healthcare providers, RN’s, RT’s, SW’s, medical students, resident physicians and attending physicians. It was a bit chaotic as multiple people were trying to talk to me at once. I reported off on her medical history and any changes during flight, all while panning around the room hoping to see one or both of her parents, but I didn’t see them.
I was concerned the staff was holding them out of the room briefly while they all had completed their initial assessments. Just then, I was relieved to hear a social worker say her mother had been in the hospital awaiting her daughter’s arrival and they were trying to locate here in this massive hospital to give her the news of her daughter’s safearrival.
We waited for a short time, but without knowing a timeframe we decided to leave and make contact with hermother by phone or email later.
I presented Siddiqui’s new nurse, Jada, with the Cross and Bible keepsakes we leave with each of our patients and I asked her to make sure her parents received the items. She stated, “I don’t know, I’m pretty sure they are Muslim”.
I assured her it would be ok, and explained to her the importance of our Lord receiving the credit and praise for making this mission possible. I was confident her parents would not be offended, and they would accept the items as a gift. Jada then agreed to make sure they got them.
As our team was leaving the PICU, we were met face to face with Sana at th e doors entering the unit. She stopped and looked at us, her eyes were lit up, but she didn’t initially say any words, as if she was speechless.
She didn’t need to, I could see in her eyes how grateful she was, and I could also see the anticipation and relief that she was about to see her daughter again finally. I put my hand on her shoulder, and told her how well her precious baby did on the flight. She just repeated the words, “thank you”, multiple times, and I told her I didn’t want to keep her waiting to see her daughter any longer than she had already.
She said, “thank you, thank you”, again and rushed off to her daughter’s bedside. I’m thankful we had even that brief time together. I have no doubt God was present around us, as only God’s love could foster a bond between two people in a matter of 30 seconds!