“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity” – Psalm 133

Today we are rejoicing that little Dina has been discharged and can finally return to Kurdistan! Given her fragile condition over the last few months (severe heart infection and ruptured aorta), her doctor remarked today that Dina is a miracle and is doing better than ever:

An urgent need for prayer tonight for three-week-old Karim from Gaza, the third emergency newborn rushed to Israel during this month’s high holy days. He was born with the most challenging heart defect–hypoplastic left heart syndrome–and was in surgery at the Sheba Medical Center until nearly midnight tonight. He’s now on the ECMO device to support his heart and lungs as doctors fight to keep him alive. Some centers and families won’t even try to help in these cases, since the prognosis is so difficult:

Julio our Kurdish-speaking coworker was called into the hospital to translate on Wednesday morning, the quiet day as everything prepared to close for Yom Kippur. The doctors had reached a treatment decision for Mohammed L, the long-neglected 33-year-old from Kurdistan:

A poignant moment at the Sheba Medical Center today, as doctors there have completed a second catheterization for 33-year-old Mohammed L from Kurdistan, and are nearing a decision on whether they can take him for very high risk surgery:

Our greatest prayer need at this hour is for newborn Omar from Gaza, who came through his complex and difficult emergency surgery Thursday, and is on the ECMO device, which is the last-ditch measure to support the heart and lungs of critically-ill children. I know for many of us who have walked and prayed together through the past year, hearing this causes a pause and a deep breath as the memories of the previous recent children who have been in such a dangerous condition and their mothers are brought to mind:

As we enter the High Holy Days, a religious Israeli surgeon is accepting emergency children from Gaza and Iraq who will almost certainly cause him to be in the hospital fighting for their lives on the Torah holidays:

The young Kurdish man Mohammed L is continuing with his assessments this week, including a cardiac MRI to help the doctors consider his surgery. He and his mother are good company to visit, enclosed now for over a week in their isolation room at the hospital, but always happy, and finding something to talk about, despite being in quarantine. We hope to hear from the doctors about the possibility for surgery for Mohammed soon:

Here’s what the Middle-Eastern-style celebration looked like when the Arab baby Sulaiman reached his large and poor shepherd family in northern Iraq, after successful surgery in Israel to switch his great arteries. Yes it is shocking, and so biblical:

Eight top urgent children are leaving Kurdistan for Israel tonight, God willing. As they’re arriving Friday morning, we hope to be waving farewell to three babies returning home on the same flight, all after successful surgeries for transposition of the great arteries:

The long, long battle to reunite Asmeen and mother with their family in Kurdistan finally came to fulfillment Thursday. Transferring Asmeen from Israel to northern Iraq while on mechanical ventilation was surely the most complex, challenging journey in the history of our community. Here’s the moment they’ve longed for the past eight months:

After almost eight months in hospital in Israel, beloved Asmeen and her mother said their final farewells to the Sheba hospital staff just an hour ago. Please pray! for this complex 12-hour transfer of a child on mechanical ventilation all the way to the receiving hospital in northern Iraq:

Two months and one week after we first applied for his visa, 33-year-old Mohammed from Kurdistan has just boarded the first of two flights which, God willing, will bring him safely to Israel tomorrow morning. Despite two previous surgeries for his congenital heart defect in Iraq and Jordan, the right side of Mohammed’s heart is greatly enlarged and failing. The surgeon at the Sheba Medical Center is going out on a limb by accepting Mohammed, and estimates that he is as likely to die in surgery as to survive. So friends, let’s pray right now for Mohammed, that this will be a journey of redemption:

The cleft-palate child Dina from Kurdistan is still very weak, but has come through this her third heart surgery and is now breathing on her own. Please continue to pray for her life:

Our tiny Jaffa community has been through so many crises in recent months, and they’re in the thick of another. On Shabbat our partners at the Sheba Medical Center called to say beloved little Dina, the Kurdish child with a severely cleft lip and palate, had collapsed and been resuscitated, and would be rushed in for emergency surgery to stop bleeding around her heart:

Please pray for Mohammed E, who returned to Gaza this evening after nearly nine months in the Sheba Medical Center.
Mohammed’s father decided to return after a meeting with the head doctors and nurses of the ICU, in which they again answered his questions with gentleness, and listened with earnestness:

Several long-running dramas will reach their denouement this week, as the strands of the divine plot are drawn perfectly together.
Do you remember the little Yazidi girl Meera who arrived with our first group of delayed babies back in March?
“At first glance, Meera is startlingly purple,” Georgia wrote then:

Shadi's mother left Israel yesterday and arrived home in Kurdistan today, to a different life from what she had been dearly hoping for, following Shadi’s death on Sunday. Please pray for the Spirit of God to surround and comfort her and her family.

Shadi had a difficult weekend, holding onto life with the full support of the ECMO, and many medications at high doses. It was a blessing to spend time with his beautiful mother, and to stand by her as she steadily took in all the information she received about Shadi’s declining condition. She kissed his head and feet and hands over and over again, and she loved him, and prayed for his every minute. I think it is the instruction of Jesus to watch and wait and pray in these difficult times, when we are choosing not our own will, but His:

For about twelve hours on Tuesday the surgeons operated on Shadi. It was a long and difficult procedure. He deteriorated in the night and was placed on ECMO heart-lung support the next morning. He remains now at a crossroads: if his condition improves he can live, but if it worsens he will die, as he is already receiving the maximum support the Israeli medical staff can offer:

Do you remember the ISIS refugee baby Sulaiman, and the agonizing 53-day wait for his permission to enter Israel in time for his emergency heart surgery?
Two weeks ago he was between life and death on the ECMO device after surgery; last Sunday surgeons at the Sheba Medical Center were finally able to close his chest. And tonight Georgia shares that he has been discharged to our home in Jaffa:

Shevet Achim communities help children from Gaza, Iraq and Syria come to Israel for open-heart surgeries. The first community formed in 1994 in response to the plea of a mother who came to Israel seeking life-saving treatment for her son at a cost of $64,000:

“Will you help us?”

Few of us have the resources to respond to a request like that. But we found if one person will hear that question–and then pray, give whatever they have, and share the child’s story–our Father will form a rescue community that unites all kinds of people around the shared goal of saving a child’s life. And doctors and hospitals in Israel are ready to partner with us and take more than half of the costs on themselves.

Here are some of the families of children who are asking the same question today: “Will you help us?”

How it Works:

Each of these children is invited for heart surgery in one of Israel’s largest hospitals, the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, or Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. If God gives you the faith to intercede for one of these boys or girls, you can apply to become a local leader. When approved you’ll be given your own page on this website through which you can call together friends, family, and neighbors, to join you in meeting the financial goal. Everyone agrees that a child’s life should be saved–you’ll find yourself partnering with people you never would have expected! You’ll share with them regular updates on your child’s progress, including updates sent from the Shevet Achim community in Israel. And you’ll be invited to come and personally meet your child while he or she is in Israel for surgery.

Here’s how you can get started.

And here are the stories of the children now in Israel: