Halbast would like to announce that he and his mom will return to Kurdistan! He is excited to say that after having one final blood test and one final echo he is discharged and cleared to return home.
The doctors are hopeful that he will not need surgery in the future. So aside from his non-fat diet restriction he is a happy, healthy, and extremely friendly little boy that would like to invite you to celebrate with him and praise the Lord for his healing.
This boy is really cool as a cucumber! In Germany we would say, he is a cool sock. Besides Shifaa, another Kurdish child being treated with Shevet Achim, today Halbast also had his ECG and his Echo at the Sheba hospital. But the initial uncertainty was only for a short time. He endured the examination like a pro, need edonly his lollipop to be happy and patient.
I wondered how many such appointments the little one has had behind him. But, he looks well and his very friendly doctor was satisfied with his values. So we look forward to the finish for him, for a life with no heart problems. Thank you Lord for your goodness and help. Let’s pray for this cool guy and his mother furthermore, that they find the way to the one and only God, who gave him this life, twice!
Thank God that finally today, the doctor confirmed that the fluid is only a tiny amount and that he is able to come back home.
Please pray that his mum will be able to rest well, and that God will speak to her and affirm her for having such great love for her son.
In comparison to the previous weeks, of him lying still in bed with multiple chest drains, we all were delighted to hold him and play with him. His mother gave thanks to God as she found out that Halbast’s ultrasound was negative for cryptochidism.
Halbast still has fluid in his lungs, and it is still being managed with multiple high dosages of medications to reduce this fluid. His mother is patient, as she adjusts to all the new dietary and fluid restrictions for Halbast. I cannot imagine having to process all the different changes to her son, her lifestyle, and their whole family.
Please continue to pray for Halbast, as he is fighting this constant battle of fluid surrounding his lungs. We love him and his mother dearly, and hope that they are both able to find rest and healing soon.
The early bird catches the worm! Today Halbast, his mother and I, were the early birds. We were at the hospital before eight. The echo area was empty, and the front desk still closed. Halbast was the first patient of the day, therefore everything went very smoothly.
First, we went to have a blood test, which is normally the worst thing for Halbast, but today he didn’t cry so much and was done very quickly. Afterwards, we went back to the empty echo area, and sat down to have some sweets. Daiki Halbast and I agreed that the sweets in Kurdistan and Germany are way better than the ones they have here. But it seemed that Halbast didn’t care about that a lot, he enjoyed them so much!
After a short time, Halbast had his echo. Dr. David said his heart looks good, but he still needs an x-ray. In less then 30 minutes, we had the X-Ray, and were up again on time to see some clowns doing a nice show for the children. All of this appointment went easily and promptly. We were so happy.
From this moment on, our happy faces and joyful minds changed a little bit, because we had to wait for such a long time to speak to the Doctor again. Sadly, it turned out that Halbast has pleural effusion, fluid around his heart, and was re-admitted to the hospital. Daiki Halbast was very, very sad about that and so am I. Tomorrow he will have another X-Ray to inspect this condition, and if it is still not good or even worse, he will need another chest drain. Even though this day closed with unpleasant news, I’m glad that I could spend it with them.
Halbast’s Mom is such a beautiful, loving, caring and funny mother. She really needs your prayers now. All these ups and downs are not easy to take, and she misses her husband, and children at home. My prayer for her and Halbast is that God will do something over night so Halbast will not need a chest drain. I also pray for strength for Daiki Halbast as she needs to stay strong for her little boy.
The diet changes related to the fluid in his lungs has been a challenge for Halbast. In addition to the virus he is dealing with, he has often refused to eat. The doctors have decided to start feeding him through a nasogastric tube that can transport a solution to supply him with nutrition. This is hopefully only a temporary intervention, until he recovers and starts to feel better. There is still fluid in his lungs, but this has improved. He still requires a chest tube drainage system to help remove this fluid.
When Halbast’s mother was asked how she felt about staying in the hospital, she replied that she was tired. It has been a month since her arrival to Israel. She shared how she has been in the hospital for most of this time, and that it is difficult not understanding the languages spoken around her. Yet, she replied that it was all worth it for the sake of Halbast’s health. She said that though she was tired, all she wanted was for Halbast to be well.
The doctors discovered fluid in beautiful Halbast’s lungs today. They told his mum they would have to drain it. She took the news very anxiously. As I was sitting with her, she regained some strength and stood next to Halbast’s bed, smiling. I am amazed by her deep love for Halbast and her strength. Even though this might feel like a setback, she is fighting like a warrior to be the rock for Halbast.
The Doctor read his blood test. Although she was pleased that his sodium levels have improved, she added that it would be good to have another blood test with his echo this coming Sunday. There are some other areas which need to be looked at. It could be that he would need a referral to another Doctor if he does not improve. However, that he can stop taking one of his medications was a piece of good news received with enthusiasm by his mother.
Later in the afternoon, we checked Halbast at home, and noticed that his oxygen levels seem to be dropping. After the surgery, his oxygen levels were up to sometimes 100%, but today they were down to around 85%. We decided to take him back to the hospital, and thankfully everyone there was very helpful and quickly put him on oxygen to stabilize him. They explained that the oxygen levels being so low was unexpected and they wanted him to stay overnight to have further assessment into the cause of the low oxygen saturations. Hopefully, the cause is something simple like a virus, rather than there being a problem with his heart.
His lovely mother was very patient to wait for many hours for a room for Halbast. Eventually, we went up to the cardiac unit, and were greeted by about five members of staff, all excited to welcome Halbast and his mum. They poured love over him, gently changing his oxygen cannula and bringing food, all exclaiming how lovely he is and how cute his facial expressions are. One of the doctors stated that Halbast’s mother is a wonderful mother in how beautifully she cares for him. I hope that she will feel her welcome and that her stay with Halbast back in the hospital will be short.
Archie and I went to the hospital this morning at around eleven o’clock to see if Halbast would go home. However, it wasn’t until six 0’clock that he actually left the hospital! He had a good blood test, though his sodium levels are a bit low, and he is also coming home on a no-fat diet which, because most Kurdish cooking is done with oil, is a bit daunting. But thank God, Julio translated the instructions and the reason for the diet; there is a emulsified fats fluid formed in the small intestine during digestion of fatty foods called chyle which poses a risk, so in these cases it is normal for a child to be on a fat-restricted diet.
written by Helen
For healthy people, the simple things like moving, drinking, eating and smiling are very easy to do, but for a sick child it is very difficult. But today I was very grateful to see Halbast beginning to do these things again.
The mother of Mustafa and I, found Halbast in his room. His lovely mum was very happy to see us. The doctor talked to Halbast’s mum about all the food he can eat now. He has not been eating very well, but the doctor said he can try eating mashed fruits as a starting place and hopefully he will like that.
When I was standing next to Halbast, I felt something kicking my stomach again and again. Surprised I looked down and saw Halbast foot hanging out of the bed moving around. I was so glad to see that and felt very honored to be kicked by him!
The nurse said he is on less oxygen, which is great, and they want to remove him slowly form the support. Step by step, our little Halbast is improving and so is his mum. She looked a lot better today and introduced me to her family back home in Kurdistan. It was so nice to see how they are trying to support her, and even Halbast seemed like he was smiling when he saw his dad and heard his voice. Nevertheless, his mum is still upset about his situation and worrying a lot.
We have a God that wants to give her peace and love; a God who cares for His children and only wants their best. Please pray with me that she will see His love and light in these dark moments, and will receive Him as her Father. May God’s blessing be with Halbast and His healing come. For our God is great and His love is never ending!
written by Frank
Today we visited with Halbast and his mother. She is a lovely lady who seems at peace but said she is worried about her baby. While we were there she was showing us all the places little Halbast had tubes or was poked with needles. It was nice to see this young mother show her love for her baby. Halbast’s diaphragm, which is a muscle that helps him breathe, is not working properly at this time. This can cause problems later in life. We also had a time of prayer to our Father with the mother over baby Halbast.
It was a really beautiful time with Halbast’s mum in the hospital today. I don’t exactly know how to describe it, or why it came to be like this, but sitting with her on either side of little Halbast, with hardly any words in the same language, it was a sweet and special time. She cried a few silent tears as we sat there, looking at Halbast. He has been intubated again, and she described to me that she had seen his oxygen levels drop.
The nurse today told us that Halbast has quite a lot of fluid around his lungs, and he needs to have another drainage tube put in. But she also had good news, that Halbast’s heart is looking good and it’s possible that they can try and extubate him again tomorrow.
The other good news is that they are hoping it will be just this one surgery that Halbast needs. Halbast’s mum lit up with this news, as some of the other children have needed more than one surgery. It was good to share that time with her.
I prayed that Halbast’s mum would be able to trust in God that this difficult time, that He holds and knows the future for Halbast.
Upon reflection of the hospital day, Helen wrote, “Halbast had just been extubated and his mum was very excited when we went to his room. The doctors showed her how to hold him down in case he started to move excessively. We sat there quietly watching the wee fellow. The doctors asked me to sit with Halbast.
Halbast has been in the hospital since the day of his first assessment. We have been very pleased that he is there rather than at home; with his extremely low oxygen saturation and being generally unwell, it is much better that he is in the expert hands of the hospital staff.
Last night, Julio was called to translate for this lovely mother, as they wanted to prepare her for Halbast’s surgery today. I went to Halbast’s mum shortly after he was taken into the operating room, at 8 o’clock. She was crying a little and looked very alone, so I was pleased that I could spend some time with her. It must be so difficult to release her baby into the hands of the doctors, and wait for five hours in a place where she can’t speak a common language.
She immediately showed me all the photos of Halbast on her phone. He is very handsome!
We later went to join the other families in the cardiac unit, which was a nice experience. I think we all enjoyed being together as there were a lot of us, and it starts to feel like a family.
The good news for Halbast is that after the five hour surgery, we learned that it had been successful. All they needed to do was close his chest and stabilize him in the ICU. Thank God. We all breathed in relief and gratitude.
One of the surgeons explained that they had been able to fix the AV canal and replace the pulmonary valve. He was proud to share that he had been working alongside one of the best cardiac surgeons in the world on Halbast’s case today.
So as I am writing this, Halbast is recovering in the ICU. We need to pray that his body heals well from this surgery and also to thank God for the skill of the medical staff who are working with him.
When I heard that Halbast’s visa was approved to travel to Israel, I eagerly reviewed the information given to us about him. Immediately I knew that it was God’s provision for Halbast to come to Israel and for him to travel as soon as possible. Colleague Georgia and I quickly planned for his arrival and also quickly fell in love with Halbast before even meeting him. Halbast is 22 months old, and will turn two years old soon. We praise God for his life thus far, and for God creating him so beautifully.
There were so many unknowns about Halbast, but from the information gathered, Halbast was unwell. With his congenital heart defect, Halbast suffered from spells where his body, especially his little hands and feet would turn dark blue. His oxygen saturation level was unhealthily low and it was predicted that he would need supplemental oxygen during his air travel, especially with the high altitudes causing a decrease in the oxygen levels. There were differing reports about his exact diagnosis, and there were so many unknowns. However, I found peace in trusting that God is omniscient, or all knowing…including about Halbast’s heart. We decided that he would need a medical escort, and the day before he was set to leave, decided that Frank, Jonathan, and I would first travel to Jordan prior to Erbil.
When we were traveling to the Israel-Jordan border, the scenery was beautiful. Lush, vibrant green fields brought me peace as we traveled. Even with all the unknowns, there was no reason to fear because God is with us. I thought of Psalm 23 as we traveled through the valley:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
We crossed the land border into Jordan, and had the blessed opportunity to meet a family that had this year traveled to Israel for congenital heart surgery, living in the northern region of Jordan close to Syria. During this visit, I was reminded that Halbast was created wonderfully and intricately woven in the image of God, and he is precious in God’s eyes.
Later we all set off to Erbil via airplane. God provided throughout this whole journey, and thankfully there were no complications with security or for clearing the oxygen machine. He provided such kind and understanding people to help us through this whole journey. Early in the morning, at 1 am while it was still dark, we all met Halbast’s father and other family members. His father deeply cares for his son, and we hoped to give him reassurance that his wife and beloved child were not traveling alone. Halbast’s family has been intensely waiting for this day, waiting patiently for the last ten months. Here are some photos of Halbast’s beautiful family:
I then parted and set off to meet the two families, as Khonav (a 14 year old girl) and Halbast were both traveling to Israel for heart care. When I arrived at the main departure hall, I was warmly greeted, with too many kisses on the cheek to count, by Halbast’s sweet and loving grandmother. After their approval to fly and after the tickets were obtained, Halbast’s grandmother wished them all a blessed farewell. Tears were in the grandmother’s eyes and I could tell how much she loved him by the way she cradled Halbast in her arms. It was truly a blessing to meet some of Halbast’s loving family.
Again, throughout all the security and air travels, God provided such kind people to advocate for these children and to expedite their departure. The flight attendant from the first flight loved both Khonav and Halbast, and everyone else who encountered them also loved them and wished them blessings. We nearly missed the boarding for both flights to Amman and Tel Aviv, but God orchestrated everything in his perfect way.
During the first long plane ride, Halbast required oxygen to stabilize his oxygen levels. Thankfully, for his second 45-minute plane ride, he slept soundly and his oxygen was stable throughout the whole journey. His mother was so tired and intermittently fell asleep. She carried him throughout the whole journey and comforted him. She endlessly gives and cares for him, even sacrificing her precious sleep every day to ensure that Halbast receives his medication four times a day.
Throughout the journey, she shared about her family. We exchanged stories about her family and the Shevet Achim families. The families at Shevet were so excited to meet Halbast and Khonav, and even greeted them warmly via telephone prior to their departure from Kurdistan. One father at Shevet comes from the same region and has been so kind in warmly greeting them. When we arrived in Israel, it was a relief. God had safely brought Halbast and Khonav to Israel. Both children are in need of prayer and medical care. Georgia and I immediately asked for his first cardiac assessment in Israel to be as soon as possible. Please pray for him as the cardiologists perform this first assessment, and hopefully will clarify many unknowns. We continually give thanks for Halbast’s life, and for God’s divine orchestration. My love for Halbast and his family has only grown, and I am eager to see how God will work in his life.
After a long night of traveling from kurdistan to Israel, Halbast and his mother were able to rest in our home, however Halbast was a little bit sick. His temperature was a bit higher than normal, his heart rate was also faster than normal, and his oxygen dropped for a few minutes then stabilized.
It was very difficult for the technician to perform the Echo, Halbast was crying and moving all the time, the the cardiologist and the head nurse incharge of the program decided to do an Echo under sedation.
We thought we were going back home today, but after the medical staff did the ECG test we were informed that he was going to be admitted. Halbast was hospitalized, sharing the same room with Taman, another Iraqi-Kurdish boy. Both mothers were so happy.
It is always a challenge to translate to “Badini,” another Kurdish-dialect which I don’t speak much of although I am able to communicate a bit. Another Badini speaking father helped me to make a good translation. Again, in the midst of all this, the Sheba medical staff are amazing and very patient. Hopefully Halbast will have a diagnostic Cath tomorrow. Please keep him in your prayers, he was not looking well. Please also remember his young, kind mother, for this is a completely new experience for her