But first . . . we needed to meet with the doctor. From among Schneider's excellent medical staff we were able to find a doctor willing to explain on camera the nature of Yousifs operation: after patching the hole near the pulmonary valve, the surgical team opened the pulmonary artery with a stint and removed the pulmonary valve altogether, which will give Yousif the oxygenated blood flow he needs to grow into a strong and healthy young man. At some point (10-12 years in the future) when Yousif is fully grown, he may or may not need to have a valve put back into the pulmonary artery. However, as the science and technology continues to rapidly advance in heart repair, this may perhaps be accomplished through a heart catheterization, which is less invasive than surgery.
The benefit today of a fluent Kurdish speaker (Shilan) gave everyone involved the privilege of hearing the gratitude expressed by Yousif's mother to the doctors and hospital staff. She told the doctor, "For all of my life I will never forget what you have done for my son and my family." She then proceeded to offer blessings of health to the doctor, the staff and all their children - now and forever. It was a sincere moment that touched the heart of everyone present. With these same blessings in our heart for Yousif and his family we prepare to send them back to Iraq for a "happy family re-union" - being certain that they have been forever changed by their time in Israel and all they have experienced among God's people.
Yousif was very happy and really is a delightful patient; he tried to help them all he could. After the echo he noticed a picture of the heart on the desk. I pointed to the picture and his chest, and then he wanted me to take a picture of him holding it in front of his face. The doctor suggested that he hold it up to his chest. We made sure he knew that thats what his heart looked like. When we finished we went to the cafeteria and all ate lunch.
Then we went to see Saad and took food to he and his mother. He went right to Saad's room and they were so happy to see each other. There seems to be a special bond between them. This goes with our scripture for Shevet Achim. Psalm 133:1 "How pleasant and good it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." This also includes our children.
What a long day for such a little echo for Yousif and his mother. But nothing could be finer than NOT being the main event at the hospital for a day, especially after being the "main event" last week. So today Yousif spent the day caring for his little buddy with extreme compassion, carrying file folders for me like a young intern, and waiting patiently for the moment the doctor would tell him if he could go back home yet. Yousif was the perfect cooperative patient.
The echo showed the valves in his heart working with precision - Thank the Lord!! There is a little fluid gathering around the heart and the doctor wants to stop that problem at the onset.
A small amount of medication has been prescribed and a return visit was scheduled in two days to monitor the effect. Thank you for your prayers. Yousif and his mother are anxious to return to their family and Yousif misses his twin brother. Please continue to pray for a speedy and complete recovery.
Today was surgery day for Yousif - wow, what a long day! When Donna and I entered his hospital room at 7.30am, he was sitting up in bed, smiling his cheeky grin. If he was at all nervous or afraid, he hid it well. Donna cleverly capitalized on his nonchalance, and offering him her iPod, he was soon engrossed in video games. While they were busy, Shukria, his mum, took the opportunity to be alone, and soon was in tears. She seemed to have been holding herself together until a moment when Yousif was distracteda merciful thing for a mother to do.
At 9.00am we were taken upstairs to the surgery ward. Shukria dressed herself in sterile clothes and was able to accompany her son for his anesthetizing at 9.20am. She emerged afterwards distressed and crying, but the nurses responded with compassion, showing us to a separate room and fetching for her a warm drink.
The surgery lasted five hours, and the wait was long and difficult. Shukria, understandably, was uninterested in food and drink, and refused at first to go very far from the operating room. After some time passed, however, we were able to speak to her clearly through a Hebrew-Kurdish translator, which calmed her some. Then we waited...and waited more...and soon enough the surgery was done. The doctors sent a positive report that all four of the defects in Yousifs heart had been successfully repaired! In the post-surgery hours, the doctors, who do not speak a syllable of Kurdish, were very gentle and understanding with Shukria, which impressed Donna and I. Shortly thereafter the two of us went back to Jerusalem, allowing Shukria to stay with her son who is on the road to healing.
In a land where it seems so few speak the language of your home, it is easy to feel alone and misunderstood. Once Yousif was able to get a quick snack, he and his mother were quite joyful at being united with Saad's mother. The ladies chatted like old friends and the children were also delighted to see each other.
Please keep this family in your prayers as they await the surgery that will change Yousif's life.
Seven-year-old Yousif and his mother crossed the Jordan River border this afternoon and arrived in safely in Israel this evening. What a precious boy! I was touched by his sincere thoughtfulness and helpful attitude throughout the seven-hour trip. He was shy and didn't say much, but his smile said everything; so full of joy and boyish happiness. Wherever we were, he wanted to serve. As we moved from point-to-point in the hot sun at the border crossing, Yousif silently but firmly insisted on finding a suitcase to carry. Each time we had to climb back into the van, he would climb in first and ready my seatbelt for me, straightening it out on the seat. Even while his mother was a bit worried and flustered during the trip, Yousif remained calm and peaceful, till eventually he fell asleep as we neared the Jerusalem house.
I'm so excited about this little boy's time here. I pray it would be a time for him to grow healthy, and a time he would know, in the deepest part of his tender heart, the love that God has for him. I pray also that his mother find strength and peace during this time, that she would feel love much stronger than she's known, and that it would chase away all the fears inside her.
We shared our first meal together tonight, and Yousif and his mother began to relax and feel at home. Please pray with us for this family as they embark on this new step in life, this step towards hope! Pray that everything goes smoothly this coming week, and through all that happens, that God would bless this family in beautiful, incredible ways.