Naz Hassan, a 4-year-old from Syria, was sad to learn that she would have to miss trick-or-treating due to a heart surgery procedure the day before Halloween — but her community made sure she still got to experience the fun of what she calls her favorite holiday.
Hassan was born with a very large hole between the ventricles of her heart, called a VSD (ventricular septal defect), according to her surgeon, Dr. Timothy Pettitt from Children’s Hospital New Orleans.
Hassan came to the U.S. through the Louisiana chapter of the nonprofit The Heart Gift Foundation, which provides surgical and interventional services to international patients from countries that lack the resources to provide repairs for congenital heart disease.
The girl’s open-heart surgery was scheduled for Oct. 30.
Halloween has always been Hassan’s favorite holiday, according to her mother, Shiler Sido, so she was disappointed to miss it. The two were staying at the girl’s doctor’s house while they awaited surgery.
When word filtered out to the neighborhood that Hassan would have to miss Halloween, the community decided to throw her an early celebration.
Over 60 houses in the neighborhood participated in Hassan’s very own trick-or-treat experience last weekend.
“It meant a lot,” said Sido, the girl’s mother.
“We felt welcomed, and these unimaginably kind neighbors gave my daughter the chance to experience Halloween for the first time in her life. Our host family, plus the neighbors, made us feel happy and included.”
“This wonderful neighborhood drew a big smile on my daughter’s face, and for sure I won’t forget that,” she added. “We will carry those lovely moments forever.”
Hassan’s open-heart surgery, which took six hours on Monday, was a success.
“The first night was painful,” Sido said — but the day after surgery, Hassan is “doing very well.”
“She drank water, ate a little bit and talked to her father,” she told Fox News Digital.
“However, she misses Lily, our host family’s dog, and keeps saying she wants to go home to Lily.”
“This wonderful neighborhood drew a big smile on my daughter’s face … We will carry those lovely moments forever.”
Dr. Pettitt echoed that Hassan’s heart surgery “went great.”
The hole between the ventricles of the girl’s heart was closed with a patch of Gore-Tex, which is a thin plastic membrane, the doctor said.
“She also had a cleft, or split, in one of the leaflets of her mitral valve, which is the valve between the left atrium and ventricle,” he noted. “This was repaired by suturing the edges of the cleft together, which restored the normal function of the valve.”
Before the surgery, Hassan had to be put on the heart-lung bypass machine so that her heart could be stopped, opened and repaired, the doctor said.
After the repair, she had “no residual defects” and left the operating room breathing on her own.
Added Pettitt, “She has had an uneventful postoperative recovery and we expect her to be able to go home in a couple of days.”