Israel today is at the height of the coronavirus lockdown, but that didn’t keep Motasem and mother from returning to their family in the Gaza Strip after the emergency surgery to switch his great arteries.
The drive from Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem to Gaza took us through the beautiful forests of the Judean hills, and our lengthy conversation about the mercies of the Lord was also refreshing.
Emerging from the vehicle at the Erez crossing into Gaza we beheld his mercies firsthand:
Motasem, the firstborn son of his mother and father in Gaza, could never have grown to have a normal life without the intervention of the advanced medical care available only across the border in Israel. We’re grateful that even in a medical crisis Hadassah made time and space to care for one of the least of these.
We haven’t been able to visit Motasem personally at Hadassah Hospital since the surgery to switch his great arteries, as there are limits on visitors due to the coronavirus. But the reports from doctors and mother are that he is doing great! Mom sent us some pictures–here he’s looking sharp in his Hadassah robe, but a little grumpy about being woken up:
Motasem is breathing on his own, feeding, and almost ready to return to his family in Gaza. Doctors hoped to discharge him today, but a last-minute fever caused them to hold him over the weekend. We are grateful that they’re careful not to send him back until all is well. And we thank God for the miraculous gift of new life and a good future for this handsome baby boy.
Today our precious baby Motasem was taken to surgery. Because of the virus situation right now only the closest family members are allowed to enter the ICU to keep the infection risk as low as possible. So Almuth and I were outside in the waiting area and video calling the mum while the nurses prepared Motasem for his surgery.
While we waited with the mum she seemed to be only a little bit nervous and anxious. Next to us in the waiting area a huge family gathered, all crying. As we found out they had just lost their child. It was heartbreaking to see them. Motasem’s mother felt very sorry for them but she didn’t show any sign that the situation made her worrying more about her son. She just said: “They are here all together as a family, but I am all alone.”
“But now we are your sisters, we are your family” Almuth answered.
In the afternoon the mum got the call that the surgery was finished. When she received this news she fell around our necks shouting “Praise God! Praise God!” She was so relieved and ran into the ICU to see her beloved son. Obviously she had been more worried than we thought.
Doctors reported that the surgery to switch Motasem’s great arteries was successful, and they hope he can now live a normal life without any further intervention.
Please pray with us that Motasem’s mother can know that she is not alone. That our heavenly Father is not only holding her son but also her. Even when her family is not with her and we might not be able to visit her regularly because of the corona restrictions, God is with this cute baby and his sweet mother.
Not in the mother's arms but in the Father's hands
Today, co-worker Johanna and I visited perhaps the youngest child I ever met, three-day-old Motasem. In my opinion, the little baby is not looking as young as he is. He is quite large maybe because his lovely mom is quite tall as well.
Little Motasem has a lot of hair! Hair on his head but also on his arms. His whole body is so tiny and detailed that as we stood next to his hospital bed, I couldn’t help but to praise God, and sang a song of blessing over this newest arrival and really admired our Father’s wonderful creation!
But at the same time, it was kind of heavy to stand there and to know – at least in part – what the future brings for the child. God willing, the surgery will be next Tuesday. People will do their best to repair the newborn’s heart.
Tiny Motasem sometimes seemed to know about his situation, especially when he was cutely frowning. But we know that his Father in heaven is caring for him. As it says:
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in
barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more
valuable than they?
HE who daily feeds the birds will also care for Motasem. And even if his mother cannot keep him in her arms, as usually every child is held in the first days of life, his Father still holds his little form in His hands!
Please pray with me for our lovely, tiny patient Motasem. May God give him peace and the heart of a fighter, may God protect him, heal him and give wisdom to the doctors! Please pray also for Motasem’s mother Iman, for she had to travel to another city one day after birth and is in post-partum recovery mostly on her feet; she is so far from her family since then. For a better recovery, she stays at our Guest House in Jerusalem for the weekend now and will visit her baby daily.
Rushing Motasem to Hadassah on Purim
Two-day-old Motasem was blue immediately after his birth in Gaza, and when doctors investigated they found he has transposition of the great arteries. This means his heart is pumping blue blood out to his body. He is being kept alive through mechanical ventilation and an infusion of prostaglandin, which keeps open a small ductus to the heart that normally closes after birth.
Motasem can have a normal life through emergency surgery to switch his great arteries back to the normal position. This is available only in Israel, which is largely closed down today for the Purim holiday, which commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in Persia in the days of Queen Esther, also known as Hadassah.
Thank God, doctors at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem have agreed to accept Motasem on this holiday, and we are working at this hour to rush him to Jerusalem in an ICU ambulance.