Yousef died yesterday at 4 PM. We spent his final hours by his side. I held his hand as his heart slowed, and coworker Lena and I sang over him. We wept at his death and we wept together with his grandmother.
Shortly before he died, a nurse came in to check on him and renew his medications. I watched as the nurse changed his sheets and carefully cushioned Yousef’s mostly withered body. I thanked him as he was leaving for treating the baby with such dignity. He answered me: “I just want to do what’s right.”
We did not know Yousef; we had no opportunity to. His life, most of which was spent in the hospital, was too short for him to develop much personality. Most of the grief over his passing will be felt by his family and on behalf of his family. But we and the Sheba staff showed him honor and dignity in his final moments, treating him and his life as being special and worthy of love, regardless of whether he could receive it. And in the same time we showed his grandmother honor and dignity, and treated her life and love as special too. Brothers and sisters, that is the heart and dream of our work here, a work of dignity and honor and love. We praise God that even–or perhaps especially–in the face of this tragedy, we could do that work.
This morning, Yousef’s body was put in an ambulance, and he and his grandmother were returned to the Gaza Strip. Pray for her and their family in this time of loss. I believe even now Yousef is with our Lord.
Yousef had a surgery again today to try to wean him off the ECMO. Unfortunately his heart is still too weak and so the doctors couldn’t wean him off the ECMO yet. They want to try it again in three days so for now Yousef’s heart can get some rest and hopefully regain more strength. Please pray for him and for the doctors who are treating him. He’s been on ECMO for a week now and doctors are continually attempting to wean him off. The longer he stays on ECMO the more dangerous it gets for him to actually survive it. For his grandmother this situation is also very hard and she’s really worried about Yousef. Thank you for your prayers.
This morning at eight Yousef was wheeled to the OR where doctors tried to remove him from the ECMO machine. They slowly reduced his support and he was doing well at first but, at some point his doctors recognized that his heart isn’t strong enough yet and they increased the support again. For now he is ‘kind of’ stable and probably they will try again in three days to remove him from the ECMO. Please pray for him and his grandmother!
Today Yousef’s doctors in Sheba Hospital wanted to check how strong his heart already is the day after his big surgery. They turned down the intensity of the ECMO machine. Unfortunately his heart is not as strong as they expected it to be, so they made a CT today to check his aorta. They suspect it to be the problem.
We will have to wait until tomorrow to get the results, please pray that they will be good and that it’s just a small problem that causes the weakness. Please also keep his grandmother in your prayers, she is really worried about her lovely grandson!
This morning we heard that Yousef went into surgery at Sheba Hospital. Coworker Doro and I went to the hospital to sit with his grandmother during the scary hours of waiting. Even though his grandmother was nervous, she felt the need to give us lots of food and we weren’t allowed to refuse. So we enjoyed eating together. Also during the waiting time, a lot of other Arabic mothers and fathers came to sit with us in the waiting area to support Yousef’s grandmother.
After seven hours, the surgery was done. It was the first big surgery of three that Yousef needs to undergo. This one is called ‘the Norwood procedure.’ It is not the most risky one, but it is the most complicated one. The surgery went well, but Yousef’s body isn’t strong enough to go without ECMO support (a machine that takes over the function of the heart temporarily). He will be on ECMO for at least three days, after which the doctors will try to take him off of it. The next 72 hours are very critical and will decide how his recovery will go. Please pray for Yousef, his grandmother and his parents who have to deal with this from a distance.
Yousif arrived from Gaza less than 24 hours ago to the Pediatric Cardiac ICU in Sheba hospital and already had a lot of tests done in his first day. His lovely grandmother who is accompanying him, stood by the bedside of the two week old baby when I visited him, and although she already made friends with most of the other Shevet Achim Gaza mothers, she was still worried about her beloved grandchild being in the hospital.
Today was a day full of tests to gather information about his complicated heart such as a CT scan and several blood tests. Yousif has Hypoplastic-Left-Heart-Syndrome which is a severe congenital heart defect. The doctors are acting fast so they can treat him as soon as possible.
Pray for adorable Yousif and his family who are really worried about him in this time.