From Brian Mace:
Tuesday, a lovely spring day, it was a pleasure and a joy to be able to travel with Ruth to the Gaza border at Erez to collect two lovely little children and to take them to Wolfson Hospital.
Malak is an adorable little girl who came to Wolfson for a routine check-up and came through, having simply been requested to return in six months for another check.
Mostafa is a lovely little boy, seen here in a very smart jacket.
He, too, came for check-up, and it was decided he would need to be fitted with a "halter" ECG in Gaza, which will monitor his heart function over a 24-hour period. He has been asked to return in a year for another check-up.
From Ruth Zellweger:
Little Ayatt's open heart surgery had been postponed several times, but Monday afternoon the moment finally came that she was taken in the operation room.
Her mother was teary-eyed as she walked beside her daughter's bed down the hallway. The morning had already been hard on her, as Ayatt had to fast from water and food and was crying most of the time. A mother feels deeply for her child, and Ayatt's mother was no exception.
After a short while in the waiting room, Ayatt was carried into the operation room by a very kind and gentle nurse. After one last kiss from her mother, Ayatt disappeared around the corner. Her mother started weeping but calmed down after a while. We walked together upstairs to the children's ward where I sad goodbye.
On Tuesday, Brian and I had the opportunity to visit Ayatt and her mother in the ICU. Ayatt was already extubated (taken off the mechanical ventilator) and breathing on her own.
Her mother was beside her bed, still with a worried expression on her face. We are praising God for healing Ayatt's heart. He holds this beautiful little girl in His hands.
Aad and I had the privilege of taking children to the Gaza Clinic at Wolfson hospital Tuesday. Upon arriving at Erez Border, we were met with five families, but we only had room in our van for two families. It was eventually agreed that we would take the two babies, and a taxi would take the other three older children. All children with us adapted really well to the long journeys.
The echo clinic at Wolfson hospital was packed with our five families plus another four families who had arrived from the West Bank by their own transport, so the doctors and staff had a busy time. Nevertheless, they amazingly completed their work early, and our challenging task of rounding up five families began. After a while, we had enough families together to call for the taxi, and a little later, we were able to leave with our two children, who were Amira and Raged.
Amira was scheduled to return in six months for another check up, and Raged was asked to return in a year. The taxi took Ahmad A., Ahmad M., and Khitam.
Last Thursday, Konrad had the great pleasure of taking Jafar and Wael back to the border after their catheterizations the previous day.
Last Sunday, I went with Yusef to collect Mohammed's body from Wolfson Hospital, then I took it to the Gaza border where I met with his father, who took his remains back home. This family do need our prayers.
Baby Mohammed passed away this past Friday evening, after doctors and nurses had been fighting for his life for more than five weeks. God chose to call precious Mohammed to be with Him, and we are thankful to know that we serve a loving God who ultimately knows what is best for us. Nevertheless, the loss of a child is never easy and causes much grief and pain, and so we ask you to join us in praying for Mohammed's family, as well as for the doctors and nurses at Wolfson Hospital. May they experience God's comfort and peace in the days ahead.
Camie joined me today on a lovely Summery day to Erez Border, where we were to collect two little boys for admission to the hospital for catheterization. Almost as soon as we arrived, we were met by two smiling boys and their charges, who excitedly came to us and boarded the van. Both boys were very happy, and Jafar, especially, was full of fun.
However, this soon changed when they needed to put on hospital pajamas, and Wael began to cry. This was soon taken up by Jafar and another patient in the same ward, and Jafar put up a lot of resistance. His dad was lovingly up to the challenge, and soon both boys were looking like hospital patients.
By contrast, the painful part of their admission (inserting cannulas) went by without with very little sadness and protest. Soon both little boys were as happy as before, drawing and playing in the ward.
Whilst at Wolfson hospital, we also spent some time with Hemn who is looking good, but still a little weak.
Our return journey, attempting to avoid road closures, was interesting and challenging, but we arrived back at base eventually!
Last Thursday, lovely Malak was discharged the day after her balloon catheterization, which successfully opened a valve in her heart. Despite the obvious pain and discomfort from such a procedure, Malak was as delightful as she always is, showing no signs of any distress.
In the beginning of March, tiny, 15-day-old Mohammed from Gaza arrived at Wolfson Hospital via ambulance. He underwent open-heart surgery a few days later, and it seemed that he was on the road to recovery.
But over the course of the past weeks, his condition worsened, and he underwent two more surgeries and had to be supported in between by the ECMO (heart lung machine).
When I went today into the ICU to check on Mohammed, the doctor told me with sad eyes that the medical team at the hospital does not see how Mohammed can survive. He has severe neurological damage and is on a high flow mechanical ventilation to keep him alive.
We ask you to join us in praying for this precious little baby. The doctors are doing everything they can; however, it seems hopeless. But we serve a God "who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20).
Rebecca, Miriam (from Italy), and I began our journey to the Gaza Border with Hemn on board for his admission to the hospital today.
Waiting for us at the Erez Border was sweet little Malak and her mum. Malak was also to be admitted at Wolfson today for a catheterization tomorrow. She is a fun girl who thoroughly enjoyed playing with a clown, and with Ma'yan and her glove puppets, whilst she was waiting to be admitted by the nurses.
Shortly afterwards we were arranging to collect Sayff from the children's ward, who was to be discharged today, and to return to Gaza in our van. Whilst we were making final arrangements, Fatima (from SACH) asked if we would be able to return a little boy named Mo'atez to the Gaza border as well. He had been called to the Wolfson Gaza clinic a few weeks ago, but he had not been granted a pass to get through the border in time, so he missed that appointment. However, his pass arrived just in time for his mum to decide she could get to Wolfson Hospital today, and she went by her own means. Unfortunately, there has not been a hospital Gaza Clinic for two weeks, due to Jewish holidays, and little Mo'atez had to return with us without being seen by the hospital. The hospital will give him another appointment later on.
This week, we sent two vans to the Gaza Border at Erez – Jesse and Judith in one, and Yusef and me in the other. Jesse took three people to hospital from the West Bank, so upon arrival at Erez, he was able to leave promptly with a pediatrician from Gaza and one family. Yusef and I followed with three families, and the remaining five families were taken by a taxi service, which we arranged.
It became a challenge, after arriving at Wolfson, to track down the five families which had arrived some time before us, but within two hours, I had found them and taken photos, with great help from Fatma from Save a Child's Heart (SACH), who is so helpful to everyone and such a great blessing to us all.
Out of the nine families that arrived, two were admitted for a catheterization - Yahia and Ahmad - leaving only seven families to return. The taxi service took five, and we took two, but it was a late departure for Yusef and me, as the hospital took a long time to prepare the treatment letter for the last patient of the day, who was traveling back with us.
Last week, among the children we brought to Wolfson, three were admitted, and all three were discharged during this week. Jesse returned Jelal and Amira to Erez on Thursday, March 5th, and Kristina returned Mohammed D. on Sunday, March 8th. Unfortunately, we do not have any photos taken on their day of discharge to be able to include in this blog.
Taking part in the Gaza clinic this Tuesday, Judith and I helped transport and care for several patients as well as Dr. Faez from the Gaza strip. First we met Yasmin and her parents, who had come up from Hebron to our base. With them, we headed south to the Erez border crossing alongside Brian and Yusef to pick up the doctor and one more family who could fit in our van. Yasmin is a lovely little girl with short brown curls and Wassam, the other child, is a little boy with beautiful golden eyes and hair. They were traveling for follow-up echoes.
In the clinic hallway, we joined up with Pomadora the clown as well as her friend. They put on an amazing show of entertainment for the kids, dancing around fast-walking doctors and busy staffers in the crowded space.
Keeping spirits high made the hospital entrance smoother and kept any bumps in the workings from becoming mountains. Judith’s introduction to the Gaza clinic saw a full day with a total of nine families coming through Shevet Achim’s partnership with SACH, as well as other children coming solely through SACH.
At the end of the day, we arranged the transport back to the border and to Jerusalem with Brian and Yusef. The kids we had brought were tired of waiting for their examinations or their report papers. But finding a newspaper with quizzes like Sudoku, we distracted the kids and saw them through the time until all was completed.
Every week, we are blessed to see how Jesus will get so many children from the Gaza border at Erez to Wolfson hospital, and back, when we only have seats for three children in our van. This week was no exception.
Dafe and I arrived at Erez this morning to find six children, plus their escorts, and a pediatrician, who all needed to get to Wolfson quickly. With help from a local man with a car, who took one and a half families and the doctor, we managed to take all the rest, apart from one family to the hospital. Whilst we were driving, arrangements were being made to get the last family to Wolfson. This was achieved by the dad and Mohamad M privately taking a local taxi. So we transported thirteen people between us.
All children were processed by the hospital quickly, and as we were wondering how to get so many people back to Erez afterwards, we began to learn, one by one, that three had been admitted: Jelal for a cath; Amira for a balloon cath; and Mohammed D for minor surgery for his "dead" pacemaker battery to be replaced. In addition, Ali was taken back by one of her relatives.
So we ended up with only two children to transport back to Gaza, plus Mohammed I, who had been discharged from the Childrens' ward today, and the doctor. Ruth had arrived at the hospital with Rebecca, and on her return, she took the doctor to Jerusalem. Dafe and I were therefore able to take a full van of three families back to Erez.
Last Sunday, a little baby boy Mohammed was rushed to Wolfson on oxygen by ambulance; he had a closed aorta. I was blessed to be able to see him today in the ICU just after his surgery this morning. The doctor explained that two procedures were carried out this time, and as he grows up, further remedial work should be able to be carried out by cath.
Also on Sunday, Ruth and I had the privilege and joy of being able to take Said back to the Gaza border, where he will be accepted into a local hospital to recover on oxygen, as needed. It is with great sadness that we were told that the hospital could not do anything more to help him now. This dear little boy desperately needs our prayers.
After having dropped off Said, we collected Ayatt, bringing her to Wolfson for surgery the next day. However, very shortly after dropping her off at Wolfson, they informed us that her surgery had been cancelled due to Hiba's essential, but very lengthy eleven-hour surgery that day. We returned her to Erez almost at once!
There are pictures of Mohammed I discharged today, Mohammed in ICU, Said who was discharged on Sunday, and Ayatt who was collected and returned on Sunday; together with pictures of the children we transported today: Ali, Jelal, Amira, Naseem, Mohammed D, Mohamad M.
Mohammed in ICU
As our Community prayed for Yusef and I, just before we set out for the Erez Border, Father reminded me of just what an awesome privilege it is to be able to help the precious Gaza children and their families.
We were expecting many families to come through the Border, so a taxi service was engaged to transport five families to Wolfson Hospital, and they had already left Erez when we arrived after 10am. There were two families waiting for us, Alaa and Ibrahim. After a short wait, Ahmad came through; so we could leave for Wolfson hospital. Upon arrival, it became necessary for me to return to Erez again to collect Kawther, a lovely 15-year-old girl, and her dad. By the time we returned to Wolfson, the first five children were on their way back to Erez, having been examined and reassessed and with recommendations for future check-ups. Unfortunately, I was not able to take any photos of these children, as I was in transit.
Kawther had been invited for admission for a CT scan on Wednesday, prior to a future surgery. However, after examination she was released to return with us back to the Gaza border, together with the other little children whom I had transported earlier, plus Simon, a short term volunteer with us from Denmark.
Whilst at Wolfson hospital, I visited Said whom we brought to the hospital last Tuesday. He was admitted for a catheterization to discover the state of his heart, as he was very unwell. After admission it was discovered he has a serious infection, and he has been receiving treatment for this throughout the week in an isolation ward. I have been so blessed to visit him several times during the week, and I am delighted to add a photo of him taken during the week. His picture is of him sound asleep! Although he is still on oxygen through a mask, I understand from a young Israeli lady, who is ministering to the children at the hospital, that Said was much improved yesterday and was playing with her in a waiting room quite some distance from his hospital bed. However, he was not as bright today. I remain very concerned for this lovely boy.
Yousef and I left earlier than usual Tuesday, therefore arriving at the Gaza border in good time, where three families were waiting for us to take them to Wolfson Hospital in Tel Aviv: Mahmad, Misk, and Said.
Mahmad is a quiet young man of 15 years. Similarly, Misk, a lovely little girl of five years, was also very quiet. They will return for further follow-up check ups in the future.
Said's grandma said only one word in English: oxygen. He was wrapped up in many layers, as can be seen from his first photo, and he seemed to have a little difficulty in breathing, often coughing; and subsequently he had difficulty swallowing food during his lunch time. He looked to be struggling, so I kept a very watchful eye on him. Happily, he often fell asleep on the journey, when his breathing seemed easier, and his cough ceased. After his echo, it was decided he needed to be admitted to the children's ward for catheterization, to see the extent of his heart problems.
Last week, a charming young man named Mohammed was admitted for catheterization, and he was discharged today.
Kristina visited Wolfson at the same time we were there, to bring Hemn in for surgery tomorrow, and she was able to help us transport three families back to the Border, whilst Yousef and I brought a family of three back to Jerusalem, to help them on their return journey following an appointment for their son (and grandson) at the hospital.