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.
Last Tuesday, the 3rd, amongst those we took to Wolfson Hospital from the Erez border, were three who were admitted for caths: Mohammed, Salah, and Ibrahim.
Mohammed was discharged on the 4th and taken to the border by Jesse; Salah was discharged on the 5th and returned to Erez border by Mart and me [photo below], and Ibrahim was discharged today and returned to the border by a taxi [photo also below]. Ibrahim, bless him, was in much discomfort from his cath wound, and found walking a challenge, but despite this, he was often smiling.
Today's list of possible children coming through the border amounted to about 12 children, and this week we only have one van: so we can only transport three children. But, thanks to a taxi service, which took five children, we were able to take the remaining three children. However, at 2pm, a ninth child arrived at Wolfson hospital. As usual we were challenged over how we could return so many children, but as always, Father God has the solution: one was admitted for a cath: lovely Nesmah; and Ruth and Lindsay were able to take one child, leaving five for the taxi, and three for Yousef and I in the van.
All children will return for further follow-up appointments in the future, some will be invited for cath and/or surgery. Doctor Alona explained that Sara would be invited to come in soon. Pictures of the nine children are below:
What a wonderfully busy and privileged day to be able to help the precious little children from Gaza.
Mart and I, driving a van each, with Yousef and Dafee, arrived at Gaza’s northern border about the same time, and we each took three families Wolfson Hospital for check-ups. In addition to these three families, two others arrived by taxi, and very much later in the day a ninth family arrived by private taxi.
Three children were admitted for catheterization:
It was so good to be able to take two of them to the children's ward and introduce them to the nurses there.
Six children remained to return to the border; Mart and Yousef left with Hazem, Wael, and Deema. [pictured below respectively]
Deema is such a lovely 12-year-old girl; she was showing us her schoolbooks, practicing her English with us, and encouraging us to try to speak a little Arabic with her, bless her.
Dafee and I needed to wait until 4:30 p.m. for a doctor's report for one child. Just as we were about to leave, we were called back to assist an extremely late arrival at hospital get back to the Erez border before it closed for the night. This little girl, Ritaj, and her mum had not been cleared through the border until 1:30 p.m. and had eventually arranged for a private taxi to take them to hospital, but they did not arrive until 4:30 p.m.
Wonderfully, the doctors examined Ritaj quickly, and we were under way about 5:15 p.m., arriving at Erez border with even a little time to spare! I noticed that Ritaj's surname was the same as a little girl named Mariam from Gaza who had been reported on during the last war as having been severely injured with shrapnel whilst at home with her mum. It was also reported that a neuro-surgeon in Gaza had operated on her head at that time, but there had been no further news on the internet. So I asked Fatma (a colleague from Save a Child's Heart) whether she would mind asking Ritaj's mum if she was related to Mariam. I wonder if you can imagine my delight at her response that Mariam is a cousin of her husband! I asked more questions, and it seems that Mariam is oday despite having already had four surgeries, and suffering with paralysis in her right arm and right leg. I shall continue to pray for the restoration of this precious little one, and I wonder if you might like to join me in prayer also. Bless you.
While at Wolfson, we also visited Marwan, also from Gaza, who is undergoing physiotherapy to help him with his prosthetic leg.
However, there has been some chafe, and adjustments are being made to his prosthetic; so he remains in hospital for the time being.
Our co-workers Mart and Yousef undertook the Gaza run this week, leaving fairly early for the Gaza’s Erez crossing, together with a child and mum from Jerusalem who was bound for Wolfson hospital.
About an hour and a half earlier Ruth, Sarah and I set off for Wolfson hospital with Duaa to have her ear re-examined, and Arweh the little Syrian baby who arrived here last night for his initial examinations after arriving just last night. We were expecting about six children this week, so I drove to Gaza to meet the other van to assist with transportation.
When I arrived at the border, I found three children and their escorts waiting, and within a few minutes Mart had arrived and it was decided I would take Ayat, Kamar, and Marwan to Wolfson. (pictured below respectively)
Mart and Yusef waited for more children to emerge from the border, but they never located them because a kindly-intentioned man took three children to Wolfson without our prior knowledge. Those children were: Dea, Sa'ed and Nesan (pictured below respectively); and as it happened, we were rescued by the kind person, as Mart only had space in his van for two children!
About 3:30 p.m., I set off for Erez border again carrying Ayat, Dea and Nesan on their journey homewards, following their check-ups.
Subsequently, Mart and Yusef took Kamar and Sa'ed back to Erez, plus the Jerusalem child and mother back to Jerusalem.
After my second trip to Erez, I returned to Wolfson where Ruth took over driving, bringing Duaa back to Shevet.
Arweh and Marwan were admitted today; the former for examinations, and the latter for physiotherapy to continue learning how to use his new prosthetic. The other Gaza children arrived for check-ups, and will return for more check-up appointments in the future.
For me today was very special. The first surprise was that I would be able to meet and help the dear little Gaza children. The second surprise was that one of those children was Dea whom I met over 4 years ago when he was a tiny struggling baby of about 5 months when he came to Wolfson, having two surgeries and staying for over two months. During that time I met him and his anxious mum many times, and it was such a blessing and a joy to meet him again, unrecognisable to me, as he is now a big strong, and adorable little boy.
Marilyn and I came to Wolfson hospital last Thursday afternoon to visit Surur, and were delighted to meet two families from Gaza:
On Thursday, Alla had had her surgery a few days ago and was now on the ward hoping to return home to Gaza soon. However, Thursday's echo was described as "not good" by her grandma, so she was not discharged that day. Her grandma said she would love to be able to speak in English as she really wanted to say thank you to Shevet for helping her and Alla to find her healing.
Raghad's aunty [the sister of her dad] was caring for her and spoke a little English. She was such a blessing and a help to us in explaining things Thursday. Raghad is about 2 months old and was breathless, so she couldn't feed properly. Her surgery last Tuesday has changed all that: she is now a healthy, hungry little baby with a lot of lovely dark hair.
Although the ICU nurses were non-committal, Raghad's aunty hoped she would soon be released from ICU to the ward, and ultimately, hopefully, soon be able to return home. She was so greatly appreciative of the help which Shevet has given to make all this possible. She explained that she talks every day with Raghad's mum, who cries for her baby each time. Bless her.
Today, Marilyn and I were again blessed to be asked to visit Wolfson this afternoon to take two children back to the Gaza Border. What a joy to meet precious little Alla and Raghad again. Last Thursday Raghad was in ICU following a very recent surgery, and in the intervening two days she has been transferred to the childrens' ward and today has been discharged. Her Aunty was so appreciative and happy to have little Raghad back with a big appetite, which she never had before the op, as her whole effort and time was spent just in trying to gasp breaths to breathe. The miraculous turnaround has been so quick.
Ultimately, Alla was taken to the border by her older sisters, and we took Raghad and her aunty in Shevet's van, helping her with her bags and with Raghad as far as we could go this side of the border. A very happy and contented aunty and Raghad were last seen passing through the border gate for home again.
We were expecting more children to come through the Erez Border than we could carry in one van, so Ruth and Sarah arrived to take the first two families to Wolfson (Salma and Malak), and as they were also taking Duaa to Wolfson for her ear to be examined, they left promptly with a full van.
Yusef and I waited at the Border for whoever would next be released. After some considerable time, I was amazed to see quite a group of people surrounding a little boy (Mohammed A.) with a cameraman shooting his walk towards our van, and Fatma from SACH also with them. It turned out that a dear lady who is a native Jewish Israeli, but who has lived in New York for most of her life, has been producing a film of the healing work in little Mohammed's life that has been coming about through the Israeli hospital and the Jewish Israeli surgeon, doctors, and nurses. This was to be a follow up appointment for Mohammed, and surprisingly, he behaved just like any lovely little boy, rather than the film star he has become.
Shortly after little Mohammed arrived, another much bigger Mohammed (Mohammed N.) arrived, who we also took to Wolfson for a check up. This Mohammed is 24, revealing Wolfson's determination to keep following up on children's hearts even after they cease to be children!
There was also another 12-year-old boy, Ibrahim, who arrived at Wolfson by his own means, and who we only discovered just before we were leaving to return the children to the Gaza Border. In fact, we had so many children to return to the border and Shevet, due to two additional discharges, that we needed to call for Shevet's car to travel late in the day, driven by Konrad, to collect two families from Wolfson and return them to Shevet in Jerusalem.
We only had the cameraman shooting in our van on the first journey, but he continued to film whilst at Wolfson.
All these Gaza children will return for future follow-ups, but little Malak will return later for a CT scan and for surgery.
The two children who were discharged after successful surgeries to return to Gaza were Iman and Mohammed G. The latter, Mohammed, we blogged on last week, as after a long wait at the Border, we were blessed to be able to take his grandma to Wolfson to be at his side from then until his discharge today.
And here is Iman:
As always, Tuesday is a special day. Maybe more memorable this week due to the film crew and the challenges of how to return so many children with a limited number of seats when all the children were released at 4pm. But the most memorable are the dear smiling little children.
It was such a blessing on this beautiful sunny day to be able to go to Gaza’s northern crossing, Erez, to bring some children out of Gaza for their check-ups at this week’s Gaza Clinic. When we arrived at Erez, two babies were already waiting; Ruth and I quickly put them in our van so they could get to the hospital early.
2-month-old Ragd was sleeping sweetly in her stroller, and once we put her in the van, she went quickly back to sleep. Her mother was lovely and kind, both to us and to her daughter. She even spoke a bit of English, which was a big help to us!
10-month-old Majd was not very happy initially, especially when we put her in the child seat, but once we were driving, we put on some Arabic worship music, prayed for her, and soon she dropped off quietly to sleep. I am sure she felt safe in Jesus’ arms, even when we could not comfort her in her own language.
Once in the hospital, it was decided fairly quickly that Ragd needed to be admitted immediately, and her surgery planned as soon as next week. Majd’s check-up lasted a bit longer, but Dr. Tamir decided that she needs to come back in a few weeks for further treatment.
In the meantime, Yousef and Brian had a long wait at the Erez border in the hope that some more children could come out of Gaza. Unfortunately, by the time one of them had been approved, it was too late for Dr. Tamir to see him, so they had to send him back home with the hope of getting another appointment in the next few weeks. At least they were able to give the grandmother of Mohammed – a child from Gaza who has been in ICU for almost a month – a ride to the hospital so he could have a family member there for comfort and also to give consent for any further treatment he may need.
I am always impressed with the kindness and patience of the staff at Wolfson hospital, and today I was especially grateful for the help and translation of Fatmah, our close friend and associate from Save a Child’s Heart. She was so helpful when Majd’s grandmother got very upset, and several times patiently explained things to her and calmed her down. I thank God for her language skills and willingness to help wherever she is needed!