Thank you for all your prayers for Alaa!
It was a shock to walk into Alaa’s room in the the cardiac ICU today and find an old man in his place! Where’s Alaa? Incredibly already discharged to the regular department:
Yes, he is still quite tired, but clearly bouncing back, and already asking when he can leave the hospital. Here’s his message to all those who’ve been helping and praying for him:
Early this afternoon we found our brother Alaa still sleeping, but now without connection to a ventilator! Doctors successfully weaned him this morning, a huge step toward full recovery from surgery.
And here’s what happened when we started speaking to him:
Georgia and Sebastian checked in on Alaa during the limited visiting hours this afternoon, and found him stable, his heart now functioning without the aid of the intra-aortic balloon pump, thank God. Doctors will try to remove him from the ventilator tomorrow morning, and if this is successful they will also allow him to begin waking up.
Georgia reports that the nurse there was so kind, and they’ve positioned Alaa directly across from their station and are keeping a close eye on him. Thank you Father in heaven that your eye is also always upon Alaa.
Berith and I left Jerusalem early this morning in order to be at Alaa’s bedside before he was taken away for his lengthy, complex heart surgery (the Konno procedure) which has only been done twice before at Sheba.
We found he had slept well, and we shared two and a half hours with him in his room after the start of his surgery was delayed by an urgent case. Alaa was in regular contact with his parents in Gaza and his wife who is studying medicine in Egypt. Finally at 9 am it was time to go to the OR:
After a last-minute video conversation in the staging area with his two-year-old son Fadi, Alaa entered at 9:30, and the hours ticked by with occasional WhatsApp pleas from his family in Gaza and Egypt for information. Finally at 5:56 pm came a text from one of the surgeons with the news we all longed to hear: “We just finished. He is ok.”
Doctors told us that the surgeon, regarded as one of the best in Israel if not the world, had accomplished what they hoped for. Alaa was resting quietly on a ventilator, his heart working with the aid of an intra-aortic balloon pump, and we rejoiced together with his family.
Today, Alaa returned to the hospital for a consultation appointment with the professor to see whether he can have surgery. It was an early start for Alaa. In Spanish, the saying is, “If you do it early, God will help you earlier,” and this was true for today’s appointment.
Alaa received the wonderful news, that it is not too late, and yes, he can have a follow-up surgery all these years later.
We spoke to Alaa’s father also, so that everyone is in agreement and happy for the surgery to go ahead as early as next week. Alaa is hopeful that one of his family members would be able to come and be with him, and so we are hoping that the Erez border will be sympathetic and allow Alaa’s mother be with him come surgery week.
Alaa also has his own family in Gaza, and he is missing his son. However, the time for this surgery is a blessing from God, so he will have to make the sacrifice of not being with his son and his wife for a short time. We hope to be a temporary family to him as much as we can be, while he stays with us.
Thank God that the blessing of the hope of healing has been given to Alaa. It’s true that God has not forgotten him.
Alaa understands some English which made it easier for communicating, making the day together very enjoyable.
At the hospital, we praise the Lord that a helpful and proactive echo technician began his assessments whilst the details of the paperwork were still being sorted out.
The purpose of today’s appointment is to see whether he can have another heart operation. His last surgery took place when he was ten years old, and he is now 26, so it was a long time ago. We will know the outcome of the assessment tomorrow when Alaa will return to the hospital to see the cardiologist. For now he is staying overnight at our home in Jaffa.
Yesterday Lindsay gave me the surprise news that Alaa, who came out from Gaza for an echo over a month ago, would be coming back for another appointment today. I just about bounced off the wall because my sister and her husband were visiting and today was their last day. As they had not been to Gaza I wanted them to see the border crossing, and I had prayed for a miracle: that though there were originally no appointments today, someone would come out of nowhere. I did really want them to meet Alaa because he so kind and I thought he and my brother in law would get along. So when Lindsay told me that a surprise appointment had come up and it was Alaa, I was so in awe of God. I couldn’t have come up with this myself, but out of his sheer kindness we blessed us immensely with this day.
We drove to Sheba and met him there because an Israeli volunteer brought him from Erez to the hospital. We arrived a few minutes later than he did. He was up at the desk of the adult ICU, which we don’t ever do echos in because we usually work in the children’s building. But God was faithful in what he called us to today. The first few minutes were a whirlwind of telling trying to get the payment letter faxed from Shevet, and that didn’t work so then we tried email. The secretary knew as soon as I said we were from Shevet Achim who we were and what we did. After the documents were all there she led us over to where we needed to go next. We then met with a doctor who told us the problem with Alaa’s heart is that there is extreme calcification on the grafts and the conduit previously put in his heart and for this reason he has stenosis and cardiac regurgitation which makes his heart work harder. He will need a surgery, but because he is not urgent there is no date yet.
Please, really do pray for God to continue to miraculously provide for our 2019 bill to Sheba, until it is paid we are not scheduling any new non-urgent surgeries. It is such a gift to bring people such as Alaa so that they can receive the care and dignity that, as image bearers of God, they have an innate right to. Every human life is precious from babies to adults.
After the appointment my sister, her husband, Alaa, and I all grabbed coffee to take with us for the drive to Erez. My family loved meeting him, and funnily enough when we arrived at the desk in the beginning, he looked at me and her and asked “Your sister?” without me even telling him. Today was like two worlds colliding- my family who I adore and the work of Shevet and the people we serve were combined today; personally it was one of the best days at the hospital I have had. I’m so thankful to God for all he has done, and looking forward to what he will do. Please pray for Alaa’s life, that we could schedule his surgery soon and that he would know the full measure of Messiah’s love for him.
The depiction of Jesus in the Gospels is one of unfailing compassion as he heals the sick and casts out demons and artfully challenges the presuppositions of those around him. His ministry has become our ministry. And today Yousef and I were slated to go to Gaza to pick up a baby permission pending, which did not end up happening. However, there was a young man, twenty-four years old, who had been given permission to come through Shevet Achim. We don’t normally treat anyone above the age of 18, but today profoundly impacted me because it was so out of the norm.
First of all, I was proud that Shevet could help this young man, even though it’s not in the status quo of what we typically do. His name is Alaa. He had surgery at Sheba in 2004, but recently found out he needs another one. He petitioned through the Palestinian Authority who recommended him to Muqassad Hospital here in Israel and another hospital in Jordan. Both hospitals said the surgery is too big and they cannot manage it. Then he reached out to Yousef and Yousef talked to Jonathan who said yes, we could take him to Sheba.
God gave me today as an unexpected opportunity to experience something that has long been on my heart: Jesus striking compassion extends to everyone- children as well as adults. His empathy and love for men or women has drawn and intrigued me. I’ve been thinking about that for a few months now, and today it was surprising when Lindsay told me that there was an adult, Alaa, coming to the border who we would pick up and then go to his echo at Sheba, but I felt this was from God. This young man was only two years older than me, and he was so kind.
Yousef and he talked on the way there and with my meager Arabic I caught part of their conversation about the cheap prices of food in Gaza as compared to Jerusalem. And when Alaa said falafal was only half a shekel in Gaza I couldn’t help but chime in; first in disbelief that it can be that inexpensive, but then secondly, that I might need to go and try some half shekel falafel!
When we got to the hospital, it was, of course, a different experience entirely from being with a child, but there was a mutual respect and an ease in sharing parts of our lives as we waited. We talked a lot about his son and his wife, who’s studying to be an accountant. The doctor attending him spoke Arabic so they had no issue understanding one another.
The outcome of the echo is that Alaa will need a surgery. Next week, God willing, the cardiologists will discuss what surgery is best and when it will be. Please pray for the upcoming surgery for him, and that particularly his relationship to Yousef would grow and he could hear the good news of the One who says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.”