Today there were not any new developments with Reem, save that a blood test showed she has bacteria in her blood, but not what kind, and she is currently on antibiotics. Her mother is eager for news, but is enduring the waiting with hope. Today she and the one of the amazing nurses in the ICU at Sheba, had an exchange about Reem’s temperament. “I want her to wake up!” Mom said. “Me too, said the nurse, just not right now!” Of course it would not be good if the sleeping medicine wore off it and Reem became conscious, but her mother wants to see her awake again, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we eagerly await seeing Reem’s personality, though I daresay we have already known much of it through this time. She’s a fighter, her mum said. And the nurse replied, “Yes, that’s a good thing.” We see Reem cling to life in the same way her mother clings to hope. And Psalm 25 tells us that, “No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame.” We’re trusting Jesus with her life; whatever He does, we know the hope of the resurrection is not a hope like an ember, easily stamped out by a traversing wanderer or extinguished by the slightest breeze, but a tested and tried hope. We see the nail marks in our resurrected King’s hands to show us this is real.
Before I left, Reem’s mum beckoned for me to come to the end of her bed: she had written encouragements to her daughters: terms of endearment and her hope that Reem will have the best in her life. Perhaps what is so striking about this is that Reem’s mum took what was in the deepest depths of her heart and wrote them down as declaration of hope.
Reem is starting to respond to treatment!
Two days ago, the news was grim… increased medical intervention as her condition seemed to worsen. Our praying community rallied in fervent prayer, claiming spiritual victory in the life of this child. Today, I found that Reem was still peacefully sedated and sleeping, but requiring less medications for her lung pressures. It’s a long and slow process— but progress nonetheless!
Mom reports that yesterday’s echocardiogram showed that Reem’s heart was fully developed— a huge concern previously— and doctors believe that it will function well, once the high lung pressures normalize. Mom was encouraged today by a message from Lucy, her sponsor, and by listening to a prayerful song that Lucy sent.
Today, I feel that Isaiah 52 is real and applicable:
How lovely on the mountain are the feet of them that bring good news— good news! Announcing peace, proclaiming news of happiness: Our God reigns, our God reigns!
This was my second visit to see Reem in the past week, still critically ill in the ICU at Sheba hospital. I had hoped to find her improved after the addition of another special medication four days ago. Reem continues to have extremely high pressure in her lungs, despite being given high concentrations of oxygen, a special gas called Nitric Oxide, and two other medicines specifically designed to reduce lung pressures. She remains on the ventilator, and requires continuous sedation as well as three medications to help her heart and support her blood pressure.
In short, Reem’s body is struggling. Despite her peaceful appearance— the product of necessary heavy sedation— a war is waging inside this fragile little one. And since she had been unstable during an attempt last week to perform a diagnostic MRI, causing that attempt to be canceled, the doctors still call her “a great mystery”.
Reem’s mother is young, beautiful, vivacious, and so very hopeful. She calls her first and only child, Reem, her “sleeping beauty”. She read the Psalms given to her from sponsor Lucy, and openly and readily receives prayer. Today, for the first time, her unfailingly positive speech seemed to falter when she confessed, “I need good news about Reem… it has been nearly a month since our arrival”. She speaks of Jesus, yet not yet as one that knows Him personally.
Reem needs a supernatural touch from God. Her condition is grave, but our God not only cares— He hears, He heals, He comforts. Please, friends, pray fervently for Reem and her family!
These Scriptures come to mind as I pray for Reem and her sweet mama:
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
We don’t see the healing currently, yet we cling to the Healer and plead for His great work in her body,mind, and spirit. And especially for Reem’s mother:
“The Lord is my strength and my song— He has become my salvation.” Psalm 118:14
What a privilege we have to stand beside Reem’s family during this time of need, bolstering and encouraging them, showing them the Healer.
It was a pleasure today to have the opportunity to visit with the mother of Reem. When we arrived, we found her waiting outside the cath department as her daughter had been taken in about an hour before. When I went to introduce myself to her, I was surprised to find she spoke very good English.
We began discussing how thankful we were that Reem was able to arrive just in time and we shared with her how so many people across the world were praying for her precious daughter.
As we shared and talked together, I could see how God’s hand has been on this little girl’s life. For the first two months of her life, Reem’s mother thought she was completely normal. She was at home and would eat and play and develop like other babies. The only thing she noticed is when she would cry profusely during a bath, she would start to turn blue. But when she went for her daughter’s two month vaccinations, by God’s grace, the doctor noticed there might be something wrong and told her to get her heart checked. And thank God she did.
But that wasn’t the end, the doctors were all telling her to give up, there was no way she could be healed, it was too complicated. They told not to even try to get help from elsewhere. But she knew she needed to fight for her daughter. And thank God she did. Because shortly after, and again by God’s grace, her report made it in our desk and we were able to intervene.
It amazes me to see how God works these things out. By all means this little girl shouldn’t even be alive, but our understanding of time is so limited, because He’s always on time. We just need to trust and obey. This mother trusted that there was something more for her daughter. And as I sat there holding my own daughter in my hands I couldn’t help but praise God for His grace on Reem’s life.
Praise the Lord, her cath was successful and the doctors were able to close an artery that was providing blood to the lungs and making her heart work overtime. Now the doctors will wait to see how it responds and if they see that the heart is growing and getting stronger Reem should not need an open heart surgery. How amazing is our God that He turns the hopeless into hopeful and takes the downtrodden and lifts them up. What a beautiful God we serve!
Thank you for your prayers for Reem and her mother. May God’s Grace continue to be over this precious girl.
Reem reached the Sheba Medical Center in Israel late Thursday night, after some delays in getting security clearance for her young mother to accompany her. The mother says that Reem stopped breathing on the way in the ambulance, and doctors at Sheba immediately put her on mechanical ventilation in the ICU on arrival.
Cardiologist Uri Katz at Sheba says this afternoon (on the eve of the Sabbath) they are still trying to assess the fundamental cause of Reem’s distress, as she has complex congenital heart defects. The assessments will continue over the next few days. “It’s good she’s here,” says Dr. Katz. “She wouldn’t have made it much further.”
Two-month-old Reem should be having emergency surgery to repair the narrowed aorta which has limited the oxygen levels in her body to 60% of normal. But instead she was sent home to her family in Gaza today, because the government there won’t cover the cost of treatment in Israel.
The Sheba Medical Center in Israel will partner with us to step in and save Reem, if we can cover just 20% of her costs.