Sacrifice for Mustafa

Mustafa’s mother, Sundus and I left for the Sheba Medical Center early this morning.

As we waited together for the start of visiting hours at the Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit, we were counting down the minutes until we could be reunited with Mustafa. At 11:25, five minutes before the visiting hours started, we paced the empty hallways of the heart center. I asked Sundus how she was feeling, and if she was afraid. She replied that she was not afraid, but that she was feeling something that was more severe than afraid. She exhaled deeply, and said, “My heart stopped”. She asked me to check her heart. It raced as I felt her pulse. We inhaled and exhaled together, both trying to rest in knowing that because God is with Mustafa, that we have no reason to fear.

Exactly at 1130, we entered the unit. The doctor overseeing the unit explained the events that occurred this morning. The team was unable to successfully extubate Mustafa. After withdrawing the endotracheal tube, Mustafa was unable to supply his own breaths and thus needed to be re-intubated.┬áThis is Mustafa’s eleventh day after his surgery. He has been on mechanical ventilation, and this oxygen support has been supplied by an endotracheal tube that travels down his mouth to his lungs. Today the doctor discussed the need for a tracheotomy procedure, as they have been unable to wean him from mechanical ventilation and the endotracheal tube is not designed for a prolonged time of mechanical ventilation. The procedure may potentially occur early next week.

His body suffered greatly from losing so much blood after the surgery, and it has and will be a slow recovery. As his body entered into a state of shock after this bleeding, his various organs were affected. His muscles are not as strong as they were, and it proves difficult for the muscles supporting his lungs to resume their strong function. His heart function has greatly improved and has been presenting as a normal rhythm, and his liver function is slowly improving. His kidneys are still fighting. They are evaluating his kidney function by testing how his kidneys operate by pausing the dialysis every few days. He is still recovering from his pneumonia and is receiving antibiotics, but his test results have shown improvement.

A kind nurse offered Sundus a chair, as she processed all this information. She held Mustafa’s swollen hand, pulled it close to her face, and said the Kurdish term of endearment–literally meaning “I will sacrifice for you”. As tears were forming in her eyes, she encouraged Mustafa to breathe and said she would sacrifice her life for him. I wish I could offer Mustafa my lungs, but this is not the solution to his condition.

The other day, Sundus and I were watching the rain heavily fall from the sky, and we concluded that the sky was crying for Mustafa. We discussed how the rain is beneficial, as if offers relief to dry ground and also cleanses the impurities of the world. She asked if the rain would clean Mustafa’s heart and make him well again. We pray for a clean and pure heart, and one of forgiveness. I pray that God would accept our broken and contrite hearts as a pleasing sacrifice. Our human efforts of salvation are in vain, our efforts to save another ultimately result in failure. Yet Christ is the solution to suffering and offers grace through the sacrifice of his son.

Sundus and I exited the building briefly while the nurse cleaned Mustafa. The rain stopped and the sky cleared today, enough for us to sit outside and feel the warmth of the sun. The sun brought me joy and hope for Mustafa. Sundus loves her son dearly. She held his hand with care and whispered prayers to him, faithfully reading the Qu’ran at his bedside. Please pray for God to strengthen her during Mustafa’s recovery time, and for peace. We praise the God who sacrificed his life for him