Update on Ahmed from Gaza
Baby Ahmed came from Gaza for a check-up today! He had been here with his grandmother for a few months for a multi repair heart surgery. Picking them up at the border was so joyful, I couldn’t help but break into a huge smile when I saw them. Despite being older, Ahmed still is very tiny and he was even more small when he was dwarfed by the giant snow suit onesie. When we got to the hospital, I was privileged to hold him for much of the duration of the wait. He was really so cute! When we went into for the echo, he was very upset, but his grandma knew the trick to get him to calm down even for a few moments, by alternating between putting his pacifier and his bottle in his mouth. The doctor was very kind, and explained everything in Arabic and English. The echo showed that the rests of the surgery were very good except mild stenosis of his left ventricle. He will have another follow up to see if further intervention is needed.
In addition to the echo, the doctor also recommended an RSV vaccine due to Ahmed’s hacking cough and aggressive cold, so this beautiful baby will hopefully be protected from worsening symptoms. Before getting the vaccine, I texted Jonathan to approve it, and he said yes within minutes. This is an example of Jonathan’s leadership and the pattern he sets at Shevet, he lives the conviction that God will provide for what we need, and although we are still finishing our financial year at Sheba for 2019, Ahmed’s unplanned vaccine was still important. All in all, it was a really good day. It meant a lot to be with Ahmed and his grandmother, and I enjoyed every minute of cuddling him!
Perspective in the waiting
Today was a long day for Ahmed and his grandma – even more than usual for a day at the hospital. We arrived at the Erez border expecting to take two children for follow-up echos after their surgeries, but only found Ahmed. A twenty minute wait for baby Omar turned into a two hour wait. Sitting there in the car with Ahmed and his grandma, I expected her to become frustrated and annoyed, but she waited with an incredible patience. Looking back, it was really nice to spend this time with her. We talked a little bit about her family and I quickly discovered she has a great sense of humour. We compared passports and laughed at our photos.
Just as we had left for Sheba without Omar, we had a call that he had arrived and had to turn back. Even after this, Ahmed’s grandma remained patient, and was delighted to find Omar’s grandma was a friend of hers. Both babies were lovingly bundled up for the winter:
Later, as we waited in the hospital, she seemed much more restless, constantly asking where the doctor was. Everytime a nurse walked by, she asked hopefully “Is this the doctor?” Despite only being a 30 minute wait, this must have seemed so much harder than our hold-up at the border. Our attitude to waiting and our perspective on it can change the entire atmosphere of a situation.
The Echo went well. Ahmed only started crying later on the process, but his tears were barely recognisable due to his constant wheezing. For the first time during an echo, I saw the valve moving. The heart was pumping very fast and it was beautiful to see it.
On the way home, the grandmas tried out some English phrases on me and Jana like “good morning”. Finally, as we neared the border again on the way home, she was so happy to be back she whooped with excitement – it made all of us laugh.
I think I could sum up Ahmed’s day in three words; “waiting, laughter and love”. All of these are used by God throughout the bible, and throughout our lives today.
Jana contributed to this blog
As cold water to a weary soul, So is good news from a far country.
Proverbs 25:25 NKJV
We arrived later than usual at the hospital today, and Ahmed’s grandma greeted us enthusiastically, saying that they were being discharged home today! She is a very beautiful lady, and especially so today, as her face was lit up at the thought of being home with her husband and family. They have been here for 21 days, she told me, and she excitedly spoke on the phone during out journey back to explain that she and Ahmed were on their way home.
Ahmed was sleepy and sweet, cuddled in many many blankets, prepared for his return home.
Thank God for the healing of Ahmed, brought into good health, and can return to his family. We will see him again hopefully in one month, for a check up. His grandma and I parted ways with the hope of seeing each other again.
Lovely Ahmed has improved
Lovely Ahmed from Gaza has improved and been moved from the ICU to the secondary ICU unit, just down the hall. He will be fitted for a Holter moniter today so the doctor can measure his heart beat, which has been sometimes slow. His grandma is very tired after these long two weeks, and has asked to switch out with another guardian, but Ahmed is recovering steadily, so hopefully it won’t be too long for them in the hospital.
His grandma is joined by the grandmothers of Aimen and Omar, who are very good company. Please continue to pray for strength for all of these women, and especially Ahmed’s grandma. Please also pray that through the Holter moniter they could find and treat any remaining or underlying problems with Ahmed’s heart, so he could return to Gaza and not need any further interventions in the future.
On our visit to Sheba ICU today, a closer examination of Ahmed revealed a very pale baby.
The nurse informed Moshe and I that she too was concerned and so took a blood test to monitor his haemoglobin levels. She was also concerned about Ahmed’s low urine output. During the previous night Ahmed had some episodes of low blood pressure and low pulse that were managed by calibrations of his external pacemaker and medications. Today he was more stable. Thanks be to God, he is slowly improving.
Today as I walked out of the elevator I saw Ahmed‘s grandmother praying. Ahmed was finally having his surgery and had been in surgery since 8 o‘clock. We were very happy to hear that this long-awaited surgery was taking place. The next few hours were filled with getting tea, talking to the other grandmas and praying for Ahmed. Sitting there together and having a community which is with us in prayer really gave me strength. The prayers are perceptible and even the grandma was noticing this.
The surgery took very long. The doctors were able to repair the aortic interruption and also to switch the arteries. It was a full and successful repair in only one surgery. They did an echo which was also satisfactory. Tomorrow they will try to extubate him.
Since the grandma heard this good news the look on her face changed from fear to joy. I heard the word “El-hamdalula“ a thousand times and joined her in celebrating the good news. Ahmed had to go through a lot for his young age but our awsome God never let him alone and carried him through everything. Everytime I‘m waiting for a surgery to be over I just have a peace in me which can only come from God and it is so great to share this with the family while giving them hugs and strength.
I‘m very thankful for God’s work in Ahmed’s life. Still, his fight isn’t over yet. He and his grandma need prayers to recover from this hard time. We serve a God of rest and I believe that only in Him can we find that rest. Pray that they can find their rest in God too.
Ahmed’s grandmother shared today how her own son—Ahmed’s father—received congenital heart defect corrective surgery at Hadassah when he was 12 years old, and how her grandson’s condition reminded her of this. When I asked about her feelings regarding his surgery, she shared how she personally endured seven surgeries. She also raised seven children, and is now bravely caring for Ahmed in Israel. When I asked if she missed her family, tears started to run down her face. Though she has endured so much throughout her life, it must still be so difficult for her to see her grandson in this condition.
Ahmed’s cardiac CT scan revealed that his aorta is not completely developed, often called interrupted aortic arch. The cardiologist said that his heart is very complicated, but his respiratory condition is now stable. They are hoping to perform a corrective surgery next week.
As Ahmed and his grandmother wait for the surgery, please pray for them to find hope, comfort, and strength in Messiah. As I shared how we pray for both Ahmed and his cousin Joud every day, Ahmed’s grandmother was deeply moved. Let us continually pray for the two newborns who are both at the same hospital.
When Ahmed was only seven days old, he was brought to the hospital for severe cyanosis which means that he presented as blue rather than the healthy pink newborns often present as. Ahmed was experiencing difficulty breathing, and as a result needed to be supported through mechanical ventilation. One week later he was transferred, with his kind grandmother escorting him, via ambulance to Sheba Medical Center. Today Ahmed is 14 days old yet he has already faced many challenges.
In his brief time at Sheba Medical Center, he suffered left lung atelectasis, meaning collapse of a lung, in this case his left lung. The doctors intubated and extubated him. They then rushed him to a cardiac CT exam to learn more about his heart so that they can develop a plan of care.
Ahmed is on a medication which maintains the patency of a structure that normally closes following birth, this is allowing for the perfusion of oxygenated blood and is sustaining his life. He is receiving Prostaglandin E1 (alprostadil) to dilate the patent ductus arteriosus thus increasing the pulmonary blood flow. This results in an improvement of oxygenation. As Ahmed has very severe coarctation of the aorta, he is dependent on a open ductus arteriosus to maintain the blood perfusion to his body. He not only has severe coarctation of the aorta, but also has Double Outlet Right Ventricle with Transposition of the Great Arteries.
The family of Ahmed is sad when they consider him. He has an older sister, who is 1 year and 8 months old. Please pray for his whole family, including Ahmed’s cousin Joud (who is also at the same hospital!). We praise God for sustaining him through these past two weeks and pray that God will continue to breathe life into him.
Emergency transfer to Israel during Sukkot
Newborn Ahmed was rushed to the hospital in Gaza at the age of seven days, with severe cyanosis and respiratory distress. To save him doctors there put him on mechanical ventilation (assisted breathing), and sent out a top urgent plea for help to get Ahmed to Israel, the only place within reach where emergency repair can be done.
Ahmed’s father was born with the same congenital heart defect, and had surgery at the age of 12 years to correct it.
Doctors at Sheba agreed to accept him, even in the middle of the Sukkot holiday week, and Ahmed was rushed there by ambulance tonight.