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Stories of Hope: Yarona from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago

We at Transplant Families were so honored to speak with Amos Shakya about the strength of his daughter being born with a congenital heart defect and the strength of his wife in supporting her every moment. Amos’ deep faith and care for his family came through in or interview. Their care and compassion certainly show how well Yarona is doing today 6 years after her transplant. We invite you to read their amazing story in their own words. Thank you to Amos, Roma, and Yarona for sharing your story.

**Last edit Yarona was diagnosed with COVID19 and recovered and the family invites you to send positive thoughts and prayers. They invite you to follow their journey at

Life story of my family from Bhutan to Nepal, and from Nepal to America.

Written by Roma Shakya

May 4, 2020

The adventure journey of my life began in Bhutan on 12/05/1987. When I was four years old, my parents were forcibly removed from Bhutan because of my mom’s faith in Christ. We resettled as refugees in Nepal and remained in the camp for two decades. Thankfully, I got an opportunity to finish school at the Bhutanese Refugee camp. As a refugee, I have seen many people who suffered from all kinds of difficulties. They were desperately in need of help in many areas of their lives like health, education, and basic survival. At that time, I had no hope to help them in their vulnerable situation, though I did have the heart to serve them.

I came to the USA as a refugee on 03/17/2010. I got the wonderful privilege to go to school at Truman Community College to improve my English. At that time, I didn’t have a career goal because I was just going to school to improve my English. My hope was simply to get a better job in the future to survive in America. When I was enrolled in English as a Second language (ESL) classes at TCC, my daughter Yarona was born in 2012 with an unusual heart defect. At two months old, she had to go through open-heart surgery. At nine months old, sadly, she had to go through the same procedure a second time. Then, at twenty-two months, she needed a heart transplant. During all this time, I was with her at her bedside and got an opportunity to see all the vital work done by nurses in the health care field. I realized that the nursing field is the best field for serving people and to offer comfort when they need it the most. Furthermore, this experience revealed in my soul that I wanted to become a nurse. When I was in the refugee camp, I saw many people die every day from treatable diseases. They could not access the care they needed. I really tried to reach those in need of help but lack of the proper training, all I could do was pray.

Miracle story of my daughter’s Yarona Shakya,

My daughter Yarona Shakya was born on May 3, 2012, with severe heart abnormalities and complications such as blood clots and immune deficiency. My husband was a Pastor for the Bhutanese/Nepali group at Living Water Community Church where he leads, with me, the Bhutanese-Nepali Outreach Ministry. At that time, I worked as a housekeeper at the Omni Hotel and attended Truman College. Yarona’s heart abnormalities were diagnosed early in pregnancy and, thankfully, the hospital delivery team well anticipated Yarona’s needs at the time of birth. She had two heart operations before her first birthday. The first operation implanted a pacemaker and a constricting band was placed to strengthen her pulmonary artery. In the second operation, the doctor’s switched the main blood vessels going into (superior and inferior vena cava) and out of (pulmonary artery and the aorta) the heart.

In December 2013, she entered the hospital for nine days with a respiratory illness. Three months later, she was hospitalized again with severe circulation problems and blood clotting in her heart. She received heavy sedatives to stabilize her condition and the doctors determined that she required a heart transplant. Yarona was placed on the heart transplant recipient list on March 11, 2014. God’s people persisted in prayer for her healing and God planted a hedge of protection around our family.

On April 11, Yarona received a heart transplant (the pacemaker was removed). The

The doctor’s prognosis was very positive and, in fact, Yarona improved steadily with only a few setbacks. One of the most immediate, physical signs was the change in the color of her lips, fingers, and toes from bluish-purple to the normal light brown. On May 3, Yarona celebrated her second birthday with a small bite of birthday cake and a few colorful balloons. In the second week of June, we returned home from the hospital with joy and celebration. I and my husband lived in the hospital facilities with Yarona for three months and I commuted from the hospital to work and school and helped with the Outreach Community when possible. Praise God whose hand moves in miraculous ways to care for our every need. Immediately following the heart transplant, the medical staff administered twenty-six medications to Yarona. By the time our family returned home, the medications had declined to 12 and, presently, to 3 which she will be required to take for her lifetime. The results of Yarona’s heart biopsies have been very positive and indicate that her body is accepting her heart.

After going through these horrific situations, I truly believe that my purpose in life is to become a good and honest nurse. I believe nursing is the most meaningful career for me and I am committed to becoming a good nurse and caring well for each patient. I will also endeavor to listen to the concerns of the patient’s loved ones. Taking the needs of families seriously is a vital part of nursing. For example, when I was in the hospital with my daughter waiting for her heart transplant, we suddenly realized her right hand was swollen and looked unusual. We asked the nurse and they told us it was normal with IV. However, we were not satisfied and kept asking about her hand in the days that followed. On the third day, my husband went forward with the same concern to the head of the nursing department, and finally, they determined that her hand was infected. Later, my daughter had to go through plastic surgery for her hand. I do believe that she wouldn’t have had to go through plastic surgery if the nurses had taken our concerns seriously. When I become a nurse, I will not let things like this happen to anyone’s child or loved one.

When I was at my daughter’s bedside, I was moved deeply by the compassion, care, and time that the nurses took to treat her. It has remained in my heart and I am filled with the kindness to move forward to help and serve people from my heart. After I finish my nursing school, I plan to return to Nepal with my friends for a short term medical mission trip to help the most venerable people of Nepal who don’t have any health care access.

The compassionate work of nurses who take care of the suffering of patients needs someone who is humble, open, cheerful, loveable, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, faithful, and gentle. I believe I have a heart with the power to care for the suffering of others. Through growing up in the refugee camp, I learned to have a Spirit of compassion and serve.

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