When I found out that I was going to go to the hospital today, I was really looking forward to a visit with Israa. I was hoping her chest drain would finally be removed so I could hug her; the last time I saw her she was constantly whining the Kurdish word for “arm.” I couldn’t believe it when her dad told me they were coming home. This unexpected news was too nice to be true.
After a nurse had confirmed that Israa could be discharged I quickly ran to her room and found her crying in her bed. The only thing she was wearing were these blue pants from the hospital. I was glad that she calmed a bit down when she saw me. Together her dad and I got her dressed which made her quite upset and she started crying again.
Her tangled hair reminded me of what she had actually been through, all of the pain and the fear and the loneliness; especially in these situations it’s even more beautiful to know that Jesus has sustained all of this when he went to the cross so that one day we could be free from this suffering forever.
It was so lovely to see how Israa finally recognized what was actually happening. When we were standing in front of the elevator with all her bags she finally gave me this smile again that I hadn’t seen since her surgery (the cutest smile in the world).
Israa will have her follow up appointment next week, but until then she will stay with us and get as many hugs as she wants. Thank you Jesus for this beautiful little girl.
Already showering after surgery
Praise the Lord for the recovery after surgery of our precious little Israa. Today she is continuing her fight. She is doing as expected, but still has the drain tube until tomorrow, and is having trouble keeping food and medicine down. When I checked on her this morning she had just been washed up and was not happy!
This was not a high point of her day since she dislikes showering very much. The good news is that she is doing well enough that they moved her to secondary ICU today, where she was pleased to be joined by her friend Daryan tonight, as he is going in for surgery tomorrow. Her tiny voice is weaker than usual and she sleeps a lot, but is doing well.
This has been a rough journey for her father too, not being able to speak to the doctors without a translator since he only speaks Kurdish, and not being sure of what they are doing with his little girl when the nurses come in. He was able to speak to a doctor this evening with the translator and get all of his questions answered and has been more peaceful since then.
The surgery yesterday fixed two of four problems with Israa’s heart and they are hoping do surgery next week to fix the other two. She will stay in the hospital until after that surgery is completed. Please continue to keep our tiny doll with her ringlet curls that stick out all over in your prayers. God has brought her safely this far and we trust Him for the rest of the journey as well.
The loving eyes of a father
She did it!
Our strong little girl Israa stood through her and long-awaited surgery today! There was Israa sleeping inside and her Dad worrying outside of the OR. There was no time where he was able to stay still. He constantly paced up and down the hallway, the Echo Area and the waiting room, showing how anxious he was. Though the situation must have been horrible for him, Israa’s Dad was still helping the father of Rahaf and trying to talk to the Aunt of Shahad. This deep love and connection between the families is very touching.
When the doctor told him that the surgery was over, his concerns weren’t fully relieved. He needed to see his little girl to know that she was safe and doing well. To keep himself occupied, he planned Israa’s return home by scrolling through the internet looking for outfits that she could wear when they would celebrate with family.
To me it is remarkable how these parents put all their own needs and wishes behind them and give their children all they have. Israa’s Dad, for example, misses his wife, his daughter and Kurdistan so much, but there is no place he would rather be than next to his beloved daughter.
As I was waiting with him he told me how much Israa loved all of the volunteers, that she was constantly talking about us and that he was very thankful for everything that Shevet Achim has done for him and his family. Finally the doctors brought Israa out of the surgery and into her room. Israa’s father was incredibly relieved and happy. He stood outside of the room so he wouldn’t disturb the nurses in their work. His worries still didn’t stop when she was out of surgery, but he wanted to give the nurses space so they could do everything for his daughter. As he finally entered the room he took his place at his daughter’s bedside. His loving eyes resting on his little girl.
Praise the Lord for Israa’s surgery and the strength He gave to Israa’s Dad.
As we did our first run to the hospital we thought that Israa wouldn’t be admitted today. We had no call and no notification but we kept praying and God came through. Checking the phone for the last time we got the message that Israa would be admitted. Praise the Lord! So we packed her up and her Dad and took them off to the hospital.
Once at the hospital, all we had to do was wait. Our beautiful girl enjoyed the time, smiling her gorgeous smile running around, sitting next to me, singing and making funny faces. Even though she clearly didn’t like the ECG, she stood through it bravely and it did not diminish her happiness.
It is such a privilege to get to know these kids. They’re beautiful masterpieces designed by our Heavenly Father. Israa‘s beautiful and smart mind gives her the ability to remember and sing English songs. This led to the two of us performing “Mommy Finger“ throughout the day.
Her Father took the wait as patiently as his daughter did even though he was worried about the surgery tomorrow. Lovingly, he took her on his arm whenever Israa needed it, which made her smile continuously.
As we finally entered the room where they would stay overnight, he did not leave her side and held her hand through all of the procedures that were needed. Israa’s Dad had a few questions regarding his beautiful girl which he couldn’t ask in English but God had taken care of the language barrier as well. Waiting for us to go home was also the Mum of Mustafa. She accepted her new job happily and translated all concerns and questions. The staff answered patiently and it seemed to take away a few of his worries. As we left , Israa had fallen asleep getting ready for her big day tomorrow.
Sweet Israa returns to Jaffa after cath
When I held Israa in my arms today I couldn’t even tell that she had a catheterization yesterday. She looked and behaved exactly the same as she did two days ago at home. Only the yellow band around her wrist and the bandage around her hand revealed that she had this procedure.
I wasn’t sure who was more happy that Israa was coming home: me or her dad.
As I can not really put in words how sweet this little girl is I include some pictures of her. I can see the beauty of God in her sweetness and I am so glad to know her.
The doctors are not sure yet when her surgery will be. Please pray for God‘s will to happen in Israa‘s life.
Our lovely Israa had her long awaited catheterization today! The doctors said she had quite a complicated heart and gave them a lot to talk about, so please be in prayer for the team of cardiologists who will treat her. The anasthesia wore off very fast, and in a drowsy state in between waking and sleeping she was already fighting to remove the oxygen band around her thumb. She was very hungry and upset, but the nurse said she could only have a little bit of milk, which didn’t satisfy her. There were a few minutes when she was calm and had closed her eyes as I stroked her hair, but eventually she would always turn over and cry for her father.
Shortly after this, we were given the okay to give her a full bottle which soothed her and made her sleep. We hope tomorrow she will come home! When we left, her dad came down to the outside but within a few minutes the secondary ICU called Georgia to bring him back because Israa had woken up and was crying! This is sometimes difficult for families because it’s very demanding, but it also grows and deepens the bond, in this case, between father and daughter.
Preparing for the long-awaited catheterization
Israa and her father have been waiting more than 80 days for this moment. Israa’s father dressed specially for this day.
He was nervous as he approached the heart unit. The plan was for Israa to be admitted to the hospital and to have a diagnostic catheterization tomorrow, in order to better plan for the anticipated surgery after this procedure. There was rarely a moment when Israa was not climbing on the multi-colored playground or walking around the halls of the cardiac unit.
During the time of her echocardiogram, before she even reached the examination bed, she started crying. After exhausting all the comforting words in my vocabulary in Kurdish, I realized that all she wanted was to be held. I asked if I could hold her during the echocardiogram, and the technician agreed to give this suggestion a try. As she laid in my arms on this examination bed, she was content. She even marveled at the different colors emerging on the echocardiogram screen, and I tried to simply explain that this was her beautiful heart.
Sometimes it is difficult to face difficult or scary circumstances, but when we walk through these circumstances together, often fears are relieved. Holding her reminded me of how God has us in his arms, and how we can gain comfort in knowing and trusting his nature of peace, faithfulness, and kindness.
After the echocardiogram, Israa had a chest x-ray. The doctor then discussed the procedure and information for the father to know prior to the catheterization. We then waited for the hospital bed to be ready for Israa. During this waiting time, she fell in love with the colorful cat sculpture in the hospital unit and the multitude of colorful butterflies on the wall. She brought so much joy to the nurses and those around her, as everyone exclaimed how cute Israa is.
When the hospital bed was ready, she fell asleep quickly after we laid her in her bed. Please pray for her catheterization procedure tomorrow, and for peace for her father. This is her very first catheterization and major procedure in her two years of life
Israa is such a sweet girl, and she looked very tiny and very beautiful as she stood at the top of our steps holding her file before we left to go to the hospital. It reminded me of a “first day at school” photo, as she was dressed so nicely, and had her hair done, ready for the appointment they have been waiting for a long time for. Israa is feeling very settled here at Shevet and is very well loved by all of us, volunteers and families.
It’s a full day experience going for an MRI scan, because Israa requires a general anaesthesia. The rather traumatic first stage for Israa was that we needed to cut her earrings to remove them. Her mother had sewn the hoops closed which meant that they were really difficult to remove. It was a three-person job for her dad, me and Julio, and although she was brave at first, eventually it all got too much for her and she cried as she clutched into me with her tiny little hands.
The MRI scan went smoothly, but the father had to wait with her a long time for her to wake from the anaesthesia. There were many other families in the hospital, and we all kept in regular contact with him on video chat to get the updates on Israa’s condition!
We collected her and brought her home, and will wait to know the results of the scan, which will inform her surgery.
Israa was in her father’s arms as they entered the welcome hall. Her big eyes took in everything around her. When they sat down Colin took her so dad could rest, and then she sat with me while Colin did the initial assessment. She didn’t make a sound the entire time, but merely clutched her sippy cup, King which I’m sure provided her with a sense of reassurance and comfort. I played with her hair while Colin took her saturation, and she reminded me of a little doll because she is so fragile ad fair. Please pray for her and dad as they transition into life at the Jaffa base. Her first appointment will be next week on September eighth!