I want to begin with this photo of Fayez, taken during his visit in September. This is the sweet, joyful boy we’ve come to know over the past couple of years who has become so close to our hearts. Over the past few months, his heart has begun to fail and this was the last time we were able to see his beautiful smile.
On Sunday morning, Fayez arrived at our house in Ashdod with his grandmother in preparation for a blood test and echo the next day. His mom called us while he was on his way to tell us he wasn’t feeling well that morning and she was worried about him. We checked his vitals as soon as he arrived, and agreed that they all measured at normal levels for him, so we’d monitor him closely for the rest of the day and take him to the hospital if anything worsened.
I took Fayez for a few minutes to give his tired grandmother a break and started to cry as I held him on my lap. His face and hands were puffy from fluid buildup in his body and every breath took a big effort. This was a far cry from the lively, grinning toddler I met over a year ago. It’s been months since we’ve seen him walk or play, as it seemed now to take all his energy just to keep breathing. God, I don’t know what’s best for him but you do, I found myself praying. Please just take care of him. Please heal him, whether here or in eternity.
By evening, Fayez hadn’t been able to eat or drink all day and his respiratory distress was becoming concerning. After praying together as a community, we decided to take him to the emergency room, where at least he could get IV fluids and be under observation for the night. Koren and I left immediately with Fayez and his grandmother.
The doctor in the emergency room at Sheba took one look at Fayez and rushed him into a room for oxygen support and evaluation. The room began to fill with nurses and doctors trying to understand the immediate cause of Fayez’s struggles, which became clear with an ultrasound. We caught snatches of their conversation in English—“His left lung is completely collapsed, it’s just swimming in fluid.”
After several unsuccessful attempts to place an IV, the doctors decided to try for intraosseous access (cannula access through bone). I brought Fayez’s grandmother out to the hallway to wait. Within minutes, every doctor and nurse in the emergency room was running for his room; while the doctors tried to place the intraosseous infusion, Fayez stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest.
For a long hour, we waited and prayed outside his room. Finally, two doctors and a nurse came to bring the news to Fayez’s grandmother: despite their best efforts to resuscitate him, Fayez’s little heart was too weak. The two-and-a-half-year battle for his life had come to a close, and Fayez was now safely in the arms of the Father.
Together, Fayez’s grandmother and Koren and I went into the room to see our sweet boy one last time here on earth. We held his little hands and prayed over him one final time. Father, thank you for bringing Fayez into your glory.
In the two days since his death, we’ve received messages from so many past Shevet volunteers, as well as other families from Gaza who have met him during their time here. I’ve never seen a response like this to a child’s death. It’s a beautiful testament to the part Fayez and his mother have played in so many lives in the last two and a half years.
I’ve spent the last year watching so many fight tirelessly for Fayez’s life. His doctor in Gaza who has so carefully attended to him for Fayez’s whole life, his cardiologist here in Israel who refused to give up on him even when there seemed to be little hope left, my coworkers here at Shevet who have showered him and his mother with so much love, the doctors in the emergency room who fought so hard to save him on Sunday night, and finally his sweet mother, who has sacrificed so much to give her son the best chance possible—so many people coming around one little boy to love him no matter the cost.
There is so much I could say about sweet Fayez and his beautiful mother but words fail to do them justice. Instead, I will say that I know better what it is to love another for having known Fayez and his mother. It has been nothing short of an honor and a gift to know and love them.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death, and the Father is making all things new. Until then, we trust in His unfailing love and wait for the day when we will see Fayez’s joyful smile again in eternity.