Initially I thought the surgery would go for five hours, but four hours later, the surgeon came out along with a cardiologist, she said ‘Basha!’ which means good in Kurdish. They explained that the valve replacement had gone well, and they will observe her for the next few days to make sure it is working well. Lord willing, the doctor said, she will not need another surgery for a long time. Co-worker Georgia, joined us as we waited; there was a collective joy over the finishing of Asmaa’s – hopefully – last surgery for this time in Israel! Asmaa’s grandma started to call her family in Kurdistan to tell them this wonderful news!
The cardiologist took a long time to thoroughly check her echo, and as he continued to take more images, Asmaa started to cry. She was very upset and we could hear her breathing becoming noisy as she coughed and wheezed.
It was really sad to hear this news, and I tried to encourage Asmaa’s grandma as I thanked her for her commitment to staying with Asmaa these many weeks. Please pray for beautiful Asmaa and for healing in her heart.
Today at Sheba Medical Center, during an appointment for another child, the cardiologist couldn’t help but share her excitement regarding Asmaa’s echo. She told us that the valve repair was a great success in yesterday’s surgery, and already she can see that the pulmonary pressure of the heart is improved. It’s a much nicer long term outcome than if Asmaa had needed to have a replacement by a mechanical valve, and hopefully will then avoid long term medications.
The corona virus restrictions meant that we were unable to visit Asmaa, but we video-called her faithful grandma when we were in the hospital. Firstly, she showed us Asmaa intubated, and she said she didn’t want to leave her side, as she was worried that Asmaa might try and pull out her breathing tube, as she did after the last surgery.
Later, we spoke to another member of the medical team who told us that Asmaa was going to be extubated later today, and then this afternoon, in a video call with grandma, she filled my phone screen with this lovely image of Asmaa sleeping after being extubated.
Beautiful Asmaa had her second surgery today; her doctors wanted to try to repair her mitral valve if at all possible rather than putting in an artificial one. Initially one of the surgeons said this would be very difficult and it might not be possible, but they were in fact able to do the repair tonight! This is significant, since a child with an artificial valve will need lifelong medications, blood tests, and multiple further surgeries.
Please pray that her would heart will adjust well to the surgery, and no more interventions will be needed. This time was very hard for her grandmother, who is so kind and gentle. She loves Asmaa so much and is very devoted to her. They’ve been at the hospital for a while, and we miss their presence back at the Jaffa base!
For the first time in over a week I saw Asmaa yesterday, and her sense of humor and smile melt my heart. I remember her first appointment and how she was very stoic and not talking to anyone who wasn’t her grandma; now seeing this girl light up when she sees us and playing games with her out in the hallway is the best thing to do at the hospital.
May God continue to grow and guide Asmaa. We thank Him for the wonderful news of the surgery, and pray for a fast recovery.
Because of the new strict guidelines of Sheba hospital, it was not possible to see Asmaa today. But we can imagine that she and her grandma are very saddened about this news. They were so happy to come back to their friends in Jaffa.
In addition, it was very surprising for all of us to hear about the mitral valve problem because Asmaa is in a very good mood and apparent condition. Sometimes we don’t understand the way of our Lord, but we want to trust Him as much as we can. With His help, this little princess can overcome her illness. Please pray also for strength to Asmaa’s grandmother; for her stomach problem to be resolved.
Entering Asmaa’s hospital room, I found Asmaa laying in bed starring at the small TV in her room. The look on her face was hard to interpret but it was definitely not a joyful smile. My attempts to make her smile only achieved a tired glance from Asmaa. Asmaa’s grandma greeted me joyfully, but the joy couldn’t hide the worry for Asmaa. Still there was great news coming just a few minutes away.
One of the nurses told me that Asmaa has been doing very well. I smiled at the grandma and she had a beautiful huge smile on her face as well. The nurse looked at Asmaa and suggested taking a walk. I couldn’t smile any wider and I was just incredibly happy that Asmaa would already be able to walk again. The nurse removed Asmaa’s oxygen mask and off we went. Asmaa took these first steps with a small smile and a lot of courage. Every nurse in the ICU applauded and cheered for her which gave Asmaa strength to handle a walk around the ICU. All of us cheered and supported her with everything we had.
The medical staff pours so much love and affection into our children which is beautiful to witness and it is such a privilege to work with them. The nurse walking with Asmaa also learned a few Kurdish words and was able to communicate with her. He didn’t leave her side and made sure she was not overworking herself. Seeing Asmaa taking these steps made me so happy and proud. These steps are great steps in her process of healing and Asmaa took these courageously. After her walk we sat Asmaa back on her bed and she laid down to rest from this amazing achievement.
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not grow faint. Isaiah 40,31
“It was such joy to be greeted by Asmaa’s lovely Grandmother as we stepped out of the lift at the Sheba Hospital today. Due to other duties we were unable to visit this little girl immediately but when we eventually saw her she was peacefully asleep, with her Grandmother beside her.
To enter her room we had to put gloves and gowns on to protect her from infection. I am absolutely sure that Asmaa secretly peeped out of one eye to see who was around but then decided it was better to remain sleeping. After a few minutes she began to wriggle, as if to relieve the discomfort of the operation.Then she began to cry!
Grandmother tried to comfort and distract her with an inflated balloon, but Shevet’s head nurse Colin had more success by sharing a colouring book and providing bright crayons. Understandably, Asmaa did not feel like smiling for the camera today. Please pray that our Heavenly Father will add His healing power to the excellent work the surgeons have done then she will discover new things to enjoy and have a happy smile again.
I’ve no idea how I did it, but after pushing some different buttons on her Kurdish smartphone, it restarted and began to work again. Thank you for helping, God! Now we could Grandma getting better and better with every phone call to Kurdistan. It’s so important for them to be connected all the time. Then we gave her water and explained that everything is fine with Asmaa.
Asmaa is such a beautiful child. I love love love her dark brown eyes. Spending time with the four year old is such a blessing as she is so much fun and very creative.
When she got spontaneously called in for surgery this morning, we were all very happy for her. But she was obviously not. She had been very joyful in our house but as soon as we took her in the car you could read from her face that she knew what was going on and where we were going.
I am so glad that the nurse Karen did the whole procedure with us. She is just the best. Even the worst part, putting a cannula in, took only about five minutes. And again: under tears Asmaa offered her arm to Karen as if she would know that everything that is happening is just for her best. In the end, Asmaa even gave many high-fives to Karen. I asked Asmaa to smile for me, and this was the result:
The x-ray showed that there is a lot of congestion in Asmaa’s lung. Please pray that this won’t cause any problems during tomorrows surgery and that she would wake up with a new heart.
Asmaa is so lovely, she grabbed my hand to leave the hospital and was so excited to return to the Shevet house in Jaffa. Thankfully she has not had a fever recently, and the doctors have said that she did not and does not have a virus. She has returned to the house in Jaffa, and is waiting for her surgery date. Please continue to pray for Asmaa and her grandmother as they wait.
It warms my heart whenever I see Asmaa smile. It now feels like Asmaa is trusting us and viewing us as her family. She has recently had a fever and the doctors are trying to figure out the cause of it. She still is smiling through it all, and still wants to play and explore.
Please pray for Asmaa and her family during this waiting period.
The sense of community in this day was beautiful, especially Khalid’s father volunteering to stay the long hours to help Asmaa and her grandma. It was also striking to watch the Danish volunteer immediately care for Asmaa, treating her with kindness and gentleness. They were authentically interested in interacting with her and in making her day more beautiful. More than once, I had the thought that they treated her like a princess. At the end of the day, when Asmaa had her room and bed secured, and they were settled in, we said goodbye and Asmaa burst out into tears as we left. It was heartbreaking. I really pray that Asmaa can experience the love of God through us, and that’s why long days at the hospital are a blessing, though it can be tiring, the word that comes to mind is devotion. We are devoted to one another and to the care of these precious kids.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
Georgia brought the car from the garage which had Asmaa’s overnight bag in it. I ran it up to them and gave Asmaa’s grandma one last kiss and hug and gave Asmaa a kiss on the cheek, and then went down to the car, thanking God for this beautiful girl, and praying that her treatment may come soon, and her healing will be complete.
Dressed in a bright pink tracksuit, Asmaa sat in the back of the car, tightly clutching her matching pink balloon. Ahead of her ultrasound this afternoon, Asmaa wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything all day! Despite this, she was really happy and, over the course of the morning, she gradually started to come more and more out of her shell. Christian and Emma, our visiting volunteers from Denmark, had a great time playing with her. Asmaa particularly loved Christian’s balloon game. A beautiful smile crept across her face as they chased it round the waiting area together.
We had a really, really long wait for Asmaa’s ultrasound. After the balloom game, she became a train driver. She really got into the role – directing us all to the carriages and enthusiastically beeping the horn.
A few hours later we were told the news that Asmaa’s surgery wouldn’t be tomorrow and they were going to send her back to Jaffa after the ultrasound. Her grandmother was obviously really disappointed with this news and kept asking when the surgery would be. It must be so hard to come to the hospital thinking the surgery will be the next day, and then to have it postponed.
As the wait grew longer, we could all feel the tiredness descend on the room. The combination of tiredness and hunger was taking its toll on Asmaa and she was fed up. Then Lisa started singing “The wheels on the bus”, one of Asmaa’s favourite songs. She seemed rather sceptical at first, but as we all joined in, complete with actions, her beautiful smile returned. She kept insisting we sang it again, and by the third time was doing all the actions too!
When it was eventually time for the ultrasound, Asmaa was really brave, and didn’t even cry! After a long day, she was finally allowed to eat again, and we spent the car journey home pointing at all the different things we could see out the window.
Please pray that the grandmother would have patience while they wait for the next surgery date. She is a real gentle and kind woman, and shows Asmaa so much love.
When Shevet head nurse Colin checked the children’s vitals on Friday morning, Asmaa had concerning symptoms such as wheezing and an increased respiratory rate. It was decided to take her to the ER at Sheba Medical Center right away.
Although there was a very long wait in the ER, Asmaa was her normal, inquisitive, beautiful self through the whole thing. Colin brought a colouring book for her, and even with a cannula in, Asmaa insisted on helping push another child’s (little Iman’s) stroller. When video chatting with her family, Asmaa kissed the screen when her baby brother was on it!
Exactly one week ago, I went to the ER together with Asmaa and her grandmother. Yesterday, she had her catheterization and today we heard the good news that Asmaa is being discharged already. Praise be to God who has been with her through all this time. After the cath, the doctors decided to perform a surgery for Asmaa and they are now deciding which date would be the best for it.
I was so happy to finally see Asmaa again and her lovely smile. It was always very difficult for me to make Asmaa smile, but now it is getting so much better. I showed her some pictures from our trip to the beach and gave her a little gift which she loved to play with. Asmaa allowed me to gently hold her and to sing together with her. Every time I started singing head and shoulders, she started smiling and so did grandma. I told her that I was there to bring them back home to Jaffa, so she grinned a lot and couldn’t wait to leave.
Asmaa was very tired and fell asleep but was wide awake as soon as the car stopped. Finally home – a place to rest and to get new energy before the next big step of surgery. In two weeks, she will have a follow up appointment and maybe by then will already have a date for the surgery. Please pray with me that this will become true so Grandma can rest and Asmaa can enjoy her time before surgery. Also pray for wisdom for the doctors who decided on what (and when) to help Asmaa. We keep on trusting God, that He will guide us – and them – in this time.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to get to know Asmaa better. Together we painted on the balcony, and later in the day we flew a kite on the beach. I was so happy to see her smile.
Today I am extremely happy for that time because I had to go to the ER with Asmaa and her grandma. Last night she had a very fast heartbeat and jugular venous distention and couldn’t sleep. Her grandma was very worried so we brought Asmaa to the ER today. The beginning went very smoothly. The doctor decided to take an X-ray and to do a blood test. Brave Asmaa stood through it all and her strong grandma carried her from room to room.
Every time I looked at Asmaa to check how she’s feeling, I a got a nice smile as an answer. After we had done the test, waiting for results was our next task. So Asmaa explored the hospital’s indoor playground a little bit. I figured out how to steal a smile from her. She loved the song “Head and Shoulders”and “The wheels on the bus go round and round.” As I sang it for her she smiled at me and even laughed when I showed her how to do the moves. It was so nice to see her like this. Usually Asmaa is more a quiet girl and very focused on her grandma. But it seems like she is more open now and that fills me with joy. After a while we got com-pany from the rest of the hospital team and Georgia blew Asmaa some bubbles. She was intrigued and wanted to catch the bubbles and tried to blow them on her own. Grandma was very happy to see that and took many pictures.
Asmaa received some phone calls from her mom. As soon as she saw her, Asmaa started crying. That made me realize how stressful and scary everything must be for little Asmaa. I remember that I was sick once and my mom wasn’t there and all I wanted was to be with her. Of course Asmaa’s grandma is a huge support and gives everything for Asmaa but she just isn’t mummy and that is very difficult for Asmaa. I pray that we and especially her grandma will fill the gap and make her feel comfortable in these troubled times.
Around 4pm we talked to the doctor. He said her glucose levels are very low. So they gave her glucose to strengthen her body. They also performed an ECG. It didn’t show anything unusual for her situation. But because of her tiredness, the hard abdomen and her low glucose levels, the doctor decided to admit her to the hospital so they can check on her.
So we waited for a room. Times of waiting can be very exhausting and her grandma was getting very tired, but thankfully we had a nice nurse and she organized some food for her to strengthen her. Asmaa has been inhaling to open her lungs. Thanks to God she went quiet and finally feel asleep. Now she finally has been admitted to the hospital. She is staying there to find out if she has a virus or something else that is causing the fast breathing and high heart rate. The grandma is happy about the help and the room they are staying in.
Please pray for good decisions and wisdom for the doctors on Asmaa’s case. May God give healing and love to our girl and strength for her amazing grandma. They are in His hands, so there is no place that would be better for them.
Asmaa, our beautiful new four year girl from Kurdistan, had her first assessment today at the Sheba Medical Center. She is very attached to her grandmother, so when I offered her the markers we brought to color with as we waited for the doctor, she took them only if I handed them to her grandmother first, who then gave them to her. Her large thoughtful eyes convey a deepness to her character, although she is so young.
During the echo she incessantly wept, and was not consoled by the things that have previously calmed children her age, such as baby shark videos or lollipops. The doctor would like to perform a diagnostic catheterization next week, although today’s visit did reiterate the diagnosis from Kurdistan, which is that she as an ASD secundum.
After the tests were done, she played with matching magnets on the metal table, and it was here that I saw for the first time a hint of a smile as she put them together. She quietly murmured to herself in Kurdish and let me help her with the different pieces. My prayer for her is that she leaves Shevet tasting the goodness of God, both her and her grandmother. “And I ask Him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-18)
Tonight Nate, Ruth and I went to the airport to pick up the four-year-old girl Asmaa and her lovely grandma. The first thing Ruth noticed about the grandma was her patient smile despite her long journey; she seemed very happy to see us.
Asmaa was not extremely happy to see us. The new place, all these new faces, and then there is this strange guy wanting to check her oxygen–I probably also would cry about all of this.
As usual the thing that calms our children down is “Baby Shark” and also this time we managed to sing and dance for her to this beautiful song and she calmed down so Nate could finish his check up.
I went to get the car and when they all came Asmaa was already asleep in her grandma’s arms.
Isn’t it beautiful and such a strong family picture of the grandma is laying down her life to be with her granddaughter in such a difficult time?
When we arrived in Jaffa our sweet Asmaa was still asleep and didn’t wanna leave Nate’s arms as we were in the apartment. It is so lovely to see how fast a situation can change if we give them love, which we have from God. Later one of our coworkers found Asmaa already happily coloring in the living room.
Our prayer is that Asmaa will get well very soon and doesn’t need to wait a long time for her treatment. We also pray for her lovely grandma to find the strength she needs in all of this.
This precious girl has a hole in her heart that can only be repaired by a skillful and dedicated surgeon, surrounded by an equally dedicated staff such as those found in Israel.
When I picked her up in the arrivals hall, she held on to me like a vise and would not let go. Oftentimes, I feel the same way, holding on to my Heavenly Father with every ounce of strength I have. Safe in the knowledge that as long as I am close to Him, the result is not up to me, but God.
I invite you to join me in praying for Asmaa, for her healing and strength over the coming months.