Shad's last few days in Israel were full. Yesterday we drove to Wolfson hospital to have his final echocardiogram and pacemaker check. Through each test his mother worried and constantly questioned Ruth and I as the doctors and nurses made comments or had questions themselves. So close to going home, she couldn't help but be nervous as she waited to hear the all clear and good to go conclusion from the authorities. Upstairs in the international clinic area we waited for Shad's echo appointment in a hallway lined with chairs attesting to the area's most common use. Angolans, Romanians, Gazans, and others were some of the countries represented there, waiting.
When it came near to our turn, we gave Shad some sedative to help him sleep through the test so the doctors could better work with him. Partly because of his condition, Transposition of the Great Arteries, his chest protrudes around his breast-bone in a way that makes it more difficult to probe his abnormal body structure. During the echo he never quite went to sleep, but he did not become as hysterical as he usually does. His echoes are longer owing to his "poor acoustic windows" so it is difficult to get a reading of his unique chest. Dr. Alona came in and looked at him for another while, and then pronounced him finished there and ready for his pacemaker evaluation by the Devices Department downstairs.
There, through another worrisome 45 minutes we found just what we had been expecting: that Shad was ready to go home! Dr. Geist told Shad's mom that the pacemaker is a top-of-the-line model with redundant wiring. It is like multiple tiers of safety. His heart is near-normal, and the pacemaker simply adds lines of defense should his heart ever beat very irregularly, slow down, or stop. He'll need to get the battery checked after three years and replaced after five, but that can be done in Iraq.
As we waited for Shad's discharge papers, his mom voiced her many thanks to the doctors and beamed with joy and gratitude to all her friends in the hospital wards. After a few hours we were on their last trip to Jerusalem.
We arrived home as the evening light began to fade. Shad and mother quickly stepped up the stairs to share the good news with the other mothers at the Shevet building. Downstairs we enjoyed a good dinner and planned out the farewell party for Shad and Parwana (a precious young girl also going home to Kurdistan). As the time came near, we gathered in the Kurdish style living room and talked as Ryan played some fun songs on the guitar. Shad loves music and began dancing in his own way to the tune as you can see in this short video!
After that Shad was getting sleepy and his mom took him to lie down, but Josh recalled them to receive some presents. Madelyn presented a bag of gifts to each child going home, including personal handmade blankets given by caring women from the United States. Next we spent some time sharing our thoughts and special memories of their time in Israel. Then we turned down the lights and enjoyed some slideshows put together commemorating their journeys. As the films played, all the children in the room seemed to feel the happy atmosphere and began giggling and pointing to different people in the room as photos of each came up on the screen. It was their party and they knew it! After the deserts and cheer we filtered out to get some rest for the next day.
The next morning most of the Shevet Achim community once again gathered to wish them farewell. After a bit of extra packing and taking care of details, we formed a circle, prayed, hugged, and said our goodbyes.
On the car trip to the Jordanian border both kids had some crying fits and then settled down. Shad would occasionally give some amusing murmurs as he devoured a bag of crispy chips. He happily ate them while sharing by spreading fragments around the vehicle! As we neared the border, Parwana began whimpering but Shad didn't join in this time, and gave his mother an easier trip through the different border stops. At one office window he amused himself on the smooth tile floor, playing in a mound of contents from a handbag as his mother emptied and repacked it. We said goodbye as they boarded a bus to take them to the Jordanian side, where they met Jonathan for the trip to Iraq today. Shad was busy observing the world with his perceptive eyes. Precious soul in the Lord's sight!
If the Lord has touched your heart through Shad's story, would you consider giving to cover his medical costs? He is returning to Kurdistan as I write this and yet his hospital bill remains. This is an opportunity to directly sow into God's Kingdom and show His love to the Kurds.
Today we got the news that Shad was being released to come home. When Yosef and I arrived at the hospital and went to find him, we met his mom already halfway down the hall with her arms full of bags and her face full of smiles! She was so joyful to be finally getting out of the hospital. Just getting to our building in Jerusalem, not even back to Iraq yet, is a welcome step for her. At the hospital it took us another half hour to get all of Shad
On the way to Wolfson this morning I called Dr. Houri to get the latest update on the tentative plan for Shad's pacemaker surgery. He said that the hope is for Shad to go into surgery this Thursday morning. I looked forward to seeing Shad and his mother for a chance to encourage her perseverance. She was deeply focused on her sleeping son as I entered, and since her face was turned away from me, I was able to slip into a chair near her without her realizing it. When she turned her head once she sensed someone near, her face broke into a big smile of welcome, followed by mutual greeting hugs and kisses. From that moment it was obvious that Shad's mother had a new peace about her as the wait continues in Shad's long recovery. She seems to have shifted directions in her heart, and seems to be recognizing all the good around her: the true concern of the doctors, the kindnesses of the nurses, the blessing of Shad's good surgery which trumps the problem of arrhythmia that is soon to be solved. Instead of a fear-filled conversation, we had a forward-focused one. Her emotions rose to the surface as she asked about Essa's condition, and commented about other children in the hospital whose mothers were not with them, and who spent so much time attended only by a nurse. She appreciates that Shad is alive, and that surgery for the pacemaker is on the near horizon. Praise God for such a beautiful difference! I'm thankful to the ICU staff who took interest and took time to request our presence on Saturday so that together we could address all her concerns and questions face to face.
It wasn't long before Shad awoke, and it was so sweet to see him smiling happily as he sat up in bed. His mom went for a bowl of home-cooked Kurdish rice and chicken sent from the Shevet house, and he began enjoying it right away. As if he was planning what to do next, he asked that his favorite toys be moved beside his food while he ate. Before he finished, it was time for us to go. We bade a peaceful mother and smiling baby farewell with gratitude in our hearts as we headed for home. Please praise God with us for the changed countenance of Shad's mother, and that she will remain at peace as his surgery approaches. Remember Shad in prayer as the pacemaker is implanted on Thursday morning.
Three AM normally finds all of the Shevet community asleep and resting up for another day. However, at that time yesterday morning, staff member Donna was awoken by an urgent call she received from Shad
I was delighted to see Shad's mother pushing him down the hall today as we entered the children's ward at Wolfson, but her worried countenance drew my attention right away. She had been waiting for me to come so I could help her understand Shad's status in the intermediate ICU. She is fearful because he still needs an external pacemaker, and wonders what is going on. I began by asking Shad's nurse for an update, and she explained that Shad has a
As we saw little Shad today, he seemed to be pretty energetic. He was seated in his bed, playing with everything he was able to reach with his left hand.
There are 2 main reasons why Shad is still in the secondary ICU:
1. His heartbeat isn
This morning at 6.00 am we headed out of Jerusalem, looking forward to the surgery in Tel Aviv that would make possible a new heart for Shad. I was excited the whole night, because I received permission from Dr. Alona to be in the operating room during the open heart surgery.
At the Wolfson Medical Center we found Shad still sleeping in his room next to his mother, who seemed to me full of hope.
After a little bit of waiting, a staff member came to bring Shad in his bed downstairs. Donna and Shad