It’s been quite a week for tiny Laith from Hebron. After a week and a half on the ECMO machine, his condition had not improved as the doctors had hoped. So early Monday morning he went into what we expected to be a relatively straightforward operation to dilate his pulmonary artery, allowing more blood flow to his lungs.
However, when the surgeons closed his chest, Laith’s blood pressure crashed and his chest had to be reopened right away. They closed it again with a membrane. During this process they discovered that Laith’s central catheter, which is supposed to carry medications straight to his heart, was out of place, so for the last few days he had not been receiving all his meds. The doctors placed a new catheter, but Laith’s cardiac function deteriorated rapidly and he had to be resuscitated. The surgeons opened his chest once again and returned him to ECMO support.
What a surprise then on Wednesday when Laith had stabilized enough to go back into the operating room, this time to come off the ECMO machine. A day later, though he is still in critical condition, he is still stable!
We welcomed two new urgent arrivals to Sheba hospital this week. Two and a half weeks after birth, Mohammed was admitted to a hospital in the West Bank with trouble breathing, and the doctors there discovered several heart defects. He was transferred to Israel in an ICU ambulance on Sunday and is now awaiting surgery at Sheba:
And just today little Ayub from Gaza arrived after an eventful ambulance trip from the border. Halfway to Sheba, the pump delivering a special lifesaving medication to Ayub through an IV stopped working. The ambulance diverted to Assuta hospital just across the street from our home in Ashdod, where doctors and paramedics worked to get him connected to a new IV drip. Ayub is now safely in the pediatric ICU at Sheba, where he is stable and awaiting surgery to switch his great arteries:
Beautiful 11-year-old Lewan from Kurdistan is finally extubated and awake following her major heart surgery last week! After several days of bleeding from her throat, she had a small surgical procedure on Sunday to cauterize the injury to her tonsils. The next day, Elise and I found her awake and sweet as ever. “I love you,” she whispered as she held our hands.
Tiny seven-month-old Maryam from Gaza is at last back in the intermediate ICU and breathing all on her own! We are especially glad to hear today that she is finally eating and slowly beginning to gain weight, which has been a huge struggle for her since her arrival here in July.
Sweet baby Malak from Gaza is also back in the intermediate ICU after her catheterization last week. She still needs some oxygen support through her nose at times, but earlier this week Petra found her out and about in the hallways, nestled snugly in her mother’s arms.
Please pray also for little Somaia from Gaza, who has been on a ventilator in the pediatric ICU at Sheba for five months. She is still not making much progress, but the doctors have been able to reduce her sedatives a bit.
After being admitted to Sheba with a fever just a few hours after being discharged on Friday, five-year-old Fatoum from Gaza spend a few days in the hospital for treatment and observation. She was discharged again on Tuesday, and had a CT scan on Wednesday morning before returning home to Gaza. Due to her fever, her surgery has been delayed by two or three weeks. Pray that she will stay healthy at home so she can return when needed for her operation:
Lalo, Ahmed, and Sohaib are all waiting for their next follow-up echoes, and making good use of the waiting time. On Wednesday, they enjoyed a trip to the shuk (open-air market) and the beach with Tatiana and Jan. Sohaib and Lalo loved the beach, and Ahmed looks pretty handsome in a kippah:
We welcomed four new volunteers to our home in Ashdod this week—Jan and Tineke from the Netherlands, and Jonas and Lisa from Sweden:
It’s always a blessing to be joined by friends from all over the world who are seeking to serve the Lord through serving these children and their families, and we are excited to see God’s work in their lives during their time here.
And last but definitely not least, today is a special day in our community as we are celebrating Jonathan’s birthday. We started the day with brunch in our morning meeting, and our Kurdish and Arab families in our guesthouse were excited to cook up the special birthday lunch pictured above.
Over the meal one of the volunteers said jokingly, “I feel very underqualified to be here.”
“The only qualification is a caring heart,” came Jonathan’s response. True enough, life and service at Shevet isn’t dependent on medical experience or speaking many languages or any number of special qualifications. What God asks of us is the willingness to come, to bring our gifts and abilities such as they are and humbly offer them unto his service. This is the example Jonathan has set for all of us, and we are blessed by his leadership and heart for the Lord.
In fact, this is the note we ended the week on in our morning meeting today: God doesn’t ask us to be the strongest, or the smartest, or the most talented. He doesn’t ask us to fight our way to the top and be the object of the world’s praise. Instead, he calls us to humble, faithful service—to one right action after another, one step at a time closer to becoming like our Messiah.
George MacDonald says it better than I ever could: “I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking.”
May this be the spirit and attitude we walk in, as we seek to become more of who we were made to be.
Thank you for joining us in prayer,
Bria for Shevet Achim