Treasuring the bond we have
Last night was Arkan’s goodbye party, his birthday party, and Lawi’s birthday –they wanted it all combined into a mega-party! Afterwards Arkan, Mustafa, and some of the volunteers played an intense game of spoons before we all went to bed so we wouldn’t oversleep Arkan’s 4 am departure.
When Frank and I went into the family’s apartment to see if they were ready, the bags were packed, his father was smoking one last cigarette, and Arkan was asleep on the couch. Most of the volunteers got up in the dark and the cold to say goodbye and wave him off:
The airport went smoothly with no impediments and, suddenly it seemed, we were saying goodbye.
It is with mixed emotions that I write this; I’m so happy the doctors came to the decision to delay surgery, which they believe is best for Arkan. I’m happy his father agreed with it, and I’m happy they are together with their family again. But it’s hard not feel the absence of these two who became like family. We will all miss Arkan’s sense of humour, his laughter, and the inside jokes we all had.
Yet we have beautiful memories, and if I am thankful for one thing on this Thanksgiving, it is to have met Arkan and his Father. He really is blessed with a wonderful dad who is raising him in a way that reflects many of the characteristics of the Lord. We pray for God to bring them back safely in two to three years, and for now treasure the bond we have.
Arkan’s father met with Arkan’s cardiologist to discuss the plan for Arkan’s procedure. Arkan’s father spoke with such respect, kindness, and understanding. He simply wanted what was best and safest for Arkan, this warmed my heart. Together they came to the conclusion that the safest option for him would be to return home to Kurdistan for 2-3 years, and then hopefully return to Israel for his next procedure.
This is bittersweet news because we love Arkan like our little brother. Arkan and I had a wonderful time exploring the hospital. He loves his chocolate ice cream!
Later in the day, Frank and Arkan also enjoyed ice cream…and this time three scoops of different types of chocolate!
When we were discussing what date would be best to return to Kurdistan, I was torn because part of me wanted to celebrate his birthday this Thursday with him…but also wanted him to celebrate with his biological family on this special day. Arkan is part of our Shevet family. Then I thought of how every day of his life is truly a miracle, and that we should celebrate by praising God for his life every day.
Truly Arkan is God’s workmanship, wonderfully and fearfully formed by the Creator. Psalm 139 states,
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
We pray that this relationship with Arkan’s family will continue and to flourish.
written by Anna Sofie
Today, Georgia and I accompanied Arkan and his father to the Sheba Medical Centre for his echo. For me, that was a first-time experience. Going into the hospital, I had no idea what to expect, but I quickly learned that this wasn’t the case for Arkan. He knew exactly where to go and what to do at all times, which stunned me. In front of me was standing a boy, just 13 years old, but despite his age, he showed an extremely rare amount of courage and understanding – and I didn’t have to look very far to see where he got it from. Beside Arkan was standing his father, who radiated the exact same peace and calmness – and I admired them both for it.
After about 45 minutes of waiting, the doctor called Arkan’s name and we all went in. Arkan lay down and the echo started. The doctor told us that the pressure on Arkan’s heart had decreased, meaning that the doctor thinks it could be that they can delay his surgery for some time and so perhaps they will be going back to Kurdistan soon. The doctors need to meet to discuss the plan for him.
We then waited for Arkan to get his ECG, which went well and we were out again in no time. Now, we had to wait for the doctor’s report, which also ended up taking a lot of time. But even though most of the day really was spent waiting, Arkan still had a smile on his face and was in a good mood.
Tomorrow I’m leaving Shevet Achim after just five days of being here – but even though I was only here for a limited amount of time, I have found a huge source of inspiration in Arkan and his father, and I am going to take that with me. Today, I realised that having heart difficulties and being in the need of health care is a waiting game. Never have I seen so much patience in another human being as I did in Arkan and his father today – and even though they didn’t let me see it, I am sure that they were frustrated about not getting any clear answers. I know I was.
Today, I prayed for Arkan’s health and future, and I will continue to do so for as long as I can – and I ask you to please do the same. May Arkan and his family feel God’s presence and certainty in uncertain times.
After Arkan’s last Cath had to be rescheduled, we were very happy to take him to the hospital for a second try today. Arkan was smiling with excitement for finally having his Catheterization. On the way to the car he just smiled immensely. Still the Shevet Family didn’t let their beloved Arkan go without a proper goodbye. Everyone gathered around the car and prayed for Arkan’s and Rahaf’s admission. The love that was shown through this touched Arkan’s heart.
As we arrived at the hospital Georgia and I thought that admitting both Rahaf and Arkan might take a few hours. But the spoken blessings from the Shevet Family took place right away.
Arkan who has been to the hospital quite a few times now started his admission on his own.
With his incredibly fast improving English, Arkan told Tali that he was here to do his Cath. Arkan took the rest of the admission process as excellent as at the beginning. Going to the Radiology, doing an X-Ray and going back to his room was handled by Arkan with a steady smile and professionalism. His admission was because of God’s blessing, quick and easy. Please pray that the upcoming Cath will be blessed as well and will be done tomorrow.
My heart is so full after today; Georgia, Julio, and I went to the hospital for Arkan’s admission!
He will be having a diagnostic cath tomorrow to plan for either a therapeutic cath, which the doctor is optimistic he will be able to have, or a surgery. Some days are long draining days of waiting, but even though we waited a few hours for a room for him, it was a wonderful time in the process.
He had his echo, met with the doctor, and had his x-ray finished all within a half hour! After that we went to go get ice cream and played different games to kill the time, we often took funny selfies and made jokes, Arkan and I even had a short race to see who was faster (the results were that he was four seconds faster than I was).
We then went back into the hospital and Georgia and I went to visit the other children in the ICU. Then we went to check if his bed was ready, and even though it was still a little early, that did have his room prepared! The nurse came in to ask some questions, and then it was time for us to go, and white honestly Julio, Georgia, and I all expressed that it was hard to leave Arkan and his dad! Today was so special, getting to spend quality time with them is a gift, and Arkan is a like a little brother to us.
Please pray that a therapeutic cath would be possible and for God’s peace to be with Arkan during this time. When the doctor spoke with us after the echo, his father said, “All we can do is pray,”
……….and he is right, so please join in praying for safety, hope and peace for wonderful Arkan.
It was a surprise to hear that lovely Arkan was having chest pains yesterday evening. He gets pain each day for 2 or 3 seconds, but last night it was different. The pain lasted for much much longer, and so we decided it was better to take him to the emergency room for an assessment. An hour after the chest pain stated, we arrived at the ER, and the pain was continuing. Although Arkan bravely dealt with it, it was clear that he was in pain, as his personality changed, he was very quiet and not interactive at all; a completely different character than the fun and kind young man who we love spending time with at home. So this was quite sad to see, and I was very pleased that despite the business of the ER, Arkan was seen quickly by the medical team there.
Arkan, calmly supported by his father, had various assessments, including a blood test (the least fun) and a chest xray (the most fun, as we all had a ride there and back in a hospital transport van).
On the way back from the xray, Arkan felt that that pain was decreasing slightly, and certainly I was pleased to be able to observe his mood improving. As we waited for the doctor after this, we sat together happily eating our way through a packet of sunflower seeds.
The doctor soon came, and he explained that all the tests have come back normal, and that they will be able to assess further and address the situation properly at his catheterisation, which will be later this week. So Arkan was discharged to come home!
Thank God that He is looking after Arkan, who is special and dear to all of us here at Shevet.
Arkan and his father were both excited and happy to hear that the doctor wanted to make a meeting to discuss Arkan’s case. We spoke yesterday and Arkan’s father and I both said we were going to pray for a good outcome from the meeting today, and also for the storm to stop before the morning.
So, when the stormy night had passed and this beautiful and peaceful morning had arrived, we agreed that the first prayer had been answered.
The meeting today was also a sweet answer to prayer, as Dr Sharon was able to explain many things, including, in detail, the treatment pathway to the father so that he was really able to get a good understanding about his son’s condition. When she turned the meeting towards him making a decision, he respectfully told her that he trusts her opinion, and his decision is to let her decide. He is a wise and humble man and clearly wanting the very best for his son.
There are two issues to solve for Arkan, firstly to address a conduit which has calcified and therefore narrowed, and secondly that he needs to have a valve replacement. The artificial valve comes at an extra cost, which we need to be trusting God for. The exciting thing is that hopefully these procedures can both be carried out with catheterisation, so no need to open his chest on this occasion. It is a highly specialist procedure, and so they would like to bring one of the most experienced doctors in Europe over for Arkan’s procedure.
More good news is that hopefully this would prevent Arkan from needing any further surgeries for more than 5 years.
It felt like today there were many questions answered for Arkan’s father. He is a very wise and balanced man, who begun the day by reminding me that whatever the Lord wants to happen is going to happen. So, thank God that today he opened the windows of blessing for this family and there is a plan in place. Before we got home, we had a phone call to invite Arkan in for a diagnostic cath in a week and a half, to help prepare for the “big cath”.
Please keep praying for the windows of blessing and provision to open for Arkan’s case.
At a young age, Arkan was diagnosed with Double Outlet Right Ventricle, which means that two of his major arteries are connected to the same right ventricle. Throughout his life, Arkan has experienced many assessments, procedures, and even a major surgery.
Now at thirteen years old, Arkan is in Israel seeking cardiac surgery to replace a conduit, or a channel between his right ventricle and pulmonary artery. His conduit has suffered from calcification, which has narrowed the channel. This makes it difficult for blood to travel through the channel. Arkan’s father is a civil engineer and is very interested in learning about his son’s condition. His love for Arkan is evident in his desire to learn more so that he can provide the best care for his son. He is willing to wait for as long as needed for him to receive the best care. Today Arkan and his father patiently waited for not only his assessment, but patiently waited hours for the Shevet Achim hospital team to complete all the tasks needed to be done at the hospital. It reminded me of how much God loves his children and is our good Father. Here is the first stanza of “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us”:
How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He would give His only son
To make a wretch His treasure
A doctor at the hospital will discuss his case tomorrow to decide if he needs a pulmonary circulation CT angiography to get a better picture of how his lungs are functioning. The doctors will also discuss what is best for Arkan in terms of medical procedures.
Today, it was so nice to meet Arkan, who is 14 years old! I always think God is doing something special when an older child comes to Shevet. They get to experience life alongside the staff, and we bond like siblings with them. We’re so excited to have him and his kind father here with us! Please pray that he would feel at home here, even while waiting for surgery. His operation will be to treat his Double Outlet Right Ventricle (DORV), and his first assessment is September eighth!