Arazoo 's Heart Surgery


Arazoo Heads Home

Posted on Sun, 03/01/2009 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel


The last several days of Arazoo's time with us in Jerusalem were not the way one might have expected. Arazoo and her mother were happy she was released from the hospital, but quite unhappy about the fact that this meant they had to return to their home in Iraq. The moment I saw Arazoo when she returned to the house after her final echo, she came to me and buried her head on my shoulder and cried. Instead of the usual cheerful smiles and demeanor in the days before our patients head home, Arazoo and her mother had long faces, and there were many tears, especially from Arazoo's mother. Their lives are particularly difficult since she is in the unusual situation of being a single mother in a culture focused through and through on family structure and relationships. More than once we had to explain that they did have to go back even though we understood how much they wanted to stay.

By the time we were crossing the border on Thursday evening she'd begun to make little songs and jokes about staying here instead of going home, and she also was telling everyone along the way how much she'd rather stay in Israel than leave.

By the time we arrived in the apartment in Amman, she was too tired to continue on the subject until the next morning. At one point she just sat and cried. I was able to pray for her, and felt she did get some peace at that time. We'd already planned to meet with some friends there who would help them understand some things about the seeds which have been planted into their lives. We also used this time as one during which I could clearly explain some of the legal implications and accountability we had to the governments with whom we work to allow the Iraqi patients to come for the surgeries the doctors so generously offer them. Our friends were able to make Arazoo's mom understand these issues, but also to give her hope for options which could help her upon returning home. It was a special time which blessed us all.

Very early Saturday morning we took off for the airport in a rain-snow mix with howling winds. I was concerned that there may be only cancellations when we got to the airport, but instead found that there was a break in the storm over the airport. What a blessing as we were able to unload both Arazoo and Ali and their bags without the downpour to contend with. And as only God could arrange it, the uncle of a former patient, Rayan, was at the airport on the same flight. We recognized one another, and I introduced him to Arazoo and her mother. This was an immediate confidence builder for Arazoo's mother, and I watched as Rayan's uncle helped them with their bags when they were scanned through the first security check-in. The flight was delayed several times, which gave us multiple goodbyes, and by the time of the last goodbye, I noticed that they were more settled about the reality of leaving.

Arazoo left her phone number here and asked me to call her, which I did today. She said she was very good, and Arazoo's mother also said she was doing well, but very tired. I look forward to more follow-up with them in coming days and weeks. God answered our prayers, and her heart is new in every way as she goes home, so we're praying for those who can come alongside her to encourage her in growing up in this fullness of Life which she's never known before. Please join us in this prayer, and for the heart of Arazoo's mother to be made new as well. We're thanking God for all He's done in their lives so far, and look forward to keeping in touch with Arazoo in the future.

No Need For Orthopedic Surgery

Posted on Mon, 02/23/2009 - 00:00 by Dorothy_Finlay

Arazoo received the good news that she doesn't need orthopedic surgery, and she can go home to Iraq. Arazoo is coming to terms with the fact that she leaves Israel tomorrow for Jordan and travels home to Iraq on Wednesday. After hours of deliberating this past week whether she should accept the offer of surgery for her scoliosis, the consultant said, "All you need is gymnastics and sport to keep your back straight!" Arazoo's echo assessment showed her heart was healing well and she has discontinued most of her medications.

There were tears and photos and goodbyes all round. As I write this Arazoo's mother is upstairs packing her bags! Please pray that the soft heart of openness to the Lord in Arazoo remains and that He will watch over these dear friends. Arazoo has taken every opportunity given her to attend church both in English and Arabic and has been prayed for on a number of occasions. Please follow them with your love and prayers.

A Good Report

Posted on Mon, 02/16/2009 - 00:00 by Justin_Strong


We took Arazoo in for an echocardiogram today at Wolfson Medical Center and
we received a good report! She is healing very well and by the end of this
week will be able to stop all her medication. She was able to have her
sutures removed today also. If everything is good at her echo next Monday,
she will be released to go home to Iraq. Her improvement has been noticeable
this week as she has had no difficulty walking anywhere and seems to have
more energy than before.

Arazoo has shown a lot of interest in arts and crafts, and today while we
were waiting for our new arrivals from Iraq to finish their appointments, she
spent some time in the art therapy room, painting and decorating a bell.

Water Around Heart, But Feeling Better With Meds

Posted on Tue, 02/10/2009 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel


Arazoo went yesterday for her first follow-up echo since her dismissal to Jerusalem. She has been very weak and has not felt much like eating along with having the expected pain as she heals from the surgery itself. When I saw her yesterday I noticed that her color didn't seem so good either, and was concerned that she may have to be readmitted. We told her mother to take a small bag of clothes in case they had to stay for a few days, and left for the hospital.

During the echo it was determined that there is water around Arazoo's heart, and further input was needed. Dr. Alona came to assess her, causing all of us to think re-admission might be forthcoming, and Arazoo's mother was begging me to tell her that she didn't want to stay but would rather return to Jerusalem with us. Thankfully Dr. Alona was able to tell us that with a new medication she thought Arazoo would be ok to return to the house, and she should come again on Wednesday to have the fluid around her heart checked again. By today we could already tell a huge difference in Arazoo as the medication began its work. She too knew she was much better and explained to me that today she felt stronger, wanted to eat and drink a lot, and not only felt like walking, she felt like running! Praise God for this great news!

We'll go again tomorrow for another echo and assessment of her medications, and look forward to more good news as it seems that Arazoo has turned a corner with the help of her new meds. Keep praying for this lovely young lady. It was wonderful to see her join in on some of the songs we were singing together after dinner. Her mother is anxious to go home, but has begun to understand that the doctors will not release her until Arazoo is 100% no matter how much Arazoo's mom insists otherwise. God willing, the time will come very soon when Arazoo can indeed return to her home and family. It is our prayer that as she does, her heart has been not only healed, but also captured by the love of God.

Surprise Transfer To Jerusalem

Posted on Wed, 02/04/2009 - 00:00 by Dorothy_Finlay


When I arrived at Wolfson Medical Center today, I found Arazoo struggling to dress in preparation for going to Jerusalem with her mother. We were expecting her to transfer from ICU to the ward but not "home"! The doctor told me that she was doing well and should rest and take her medications and return Monday for further evaluation. Her mother packed a huge orange plastic bag of goodies acquired in the hospital . When I saw them next, they were well settled into their room in Shevet House. This is great company for Rasan's mother who sadly saw three of her friends go back to Iraq today and she had difficulty holding back the tears when they left.

As I write this, Arazoo and Mum and Rasan's mother are chatting together through the wall and the sound is very cheering. Please pray for all three ladies. (Rasan's mother, Rasan and I are pictured below.)

Beautiful Young Lady

Posted on Tue, 02/03/2009 - 00:00 by Dorothy_Finlay


Arazoo expected to move to the ward this afternoon but due to the new children expected from Gaza and the numbers in the ward, this will happen tomorrow instead.

Today Arazoo sat up out of bed and took short walks around her bed. She is gaining strength daily. Please continue to pray for this beautiful young girl that the Lord will continue to touch her and her mother and for complete healing of her heart.

Making Great Progress

Posted on Sun, 02/01/2009 - 06:41 by Dorothy_Finlay

This afternoon I visited Arazoo and her mother in the ICU to find Arazoo cheerful and looking much more relaxed than on Friday. The two chest drains were effective and her lungs expanding well. Arazoo was looking forward to her transfer to the ward tomorrow if she continued such good progress.

A friend of Shevet in Tel Aviv visited today and bought Arazoo some cute slippers in anticipation of her being up and about very soon. We are so grateful to local friends who visit and encourage our children and Arazoo certainly enjoyed her visit.

We rejoice to see the evidence of a successful operation despite the complexity of the procedure. God has had His hand on this young lady and we do appreciate your prayers on her behalf.


New Chest Tube Inserted; Biryani For Lunch

Posted on Fri, 01/30/2009 - 06:41 by Hank_And_Michelle_Dannecker

Several days ago I had the privilege of sharing with Arazoo a little more of the good news through a little book written in Kurdish. Her mother was also interested and followed along as Arazoo read out loud.

But as we entered the hospital today Arazoo was being wheeled back into the ICU. As we sat with her it was obvious that she had some heaviness of heart. Although trying to be jovial she was a bit preoccupied with what would happen next. It must be a frightening experience to not understand verbally what is happening and then several minutes later have doctors remove a tube from your chest and replace it with a new one. With that over, the next step was an x-ray of her chest to make sure all was well. I found even myself breathing a sigh of relief when the news came in that the x-ray was okay.

When I walked over to her bedside she begged me to take the new tube out. After I spoke a few words of comfort, she was willing to accept a drink of water instead.

As a little time passed pain and discomfort gave way to hunger. Fortunately Arazoo was able to eat somewhat of a Kurdish meal.
You see, this morning I woke up early to prepare my version of one of their favorite dishes, biryani. I did not take offense when the look on her face was not one of sheer delight. As she ate I was praying that it wasn't as painful as the tube reinsertion. :)

Sketching In The Children's Ward

Posted on Wed, 01/28/2009 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

I was delighted to get to visit the hospital today and see Arazoo, Havan and Ali again. As I entered the children's ward, Arazoo had just been released from the ICU and was about to settle into the bed beside Havan. She gave me a big smile when we noticed each other, and as soon as I could make my way to her for a hug I was able to see in person what I'd been observing on the blog: Arazoo's skin no longer has a blue pallor!

As soon as her bed was in place and she left the wheelchair behind, she began to make a picture with a special gift I'd set aside for her. When we met in Amman at the echocardiogram screening, I noticed that Arazoo loved to draw, and was very good at it. While I was visiting family in the US, I found some art supplies for her, and presented them to her. She immediately began sketching and continued until she was tired.

Arazoo was anxious for some Kurdish cooking, but there was only the hospital lunch available to her, so she ate nothing but salads which her mother brought in from the cafeteria. We hope to take her a special dish or two in the morning made by the moms here at the house. Arazoo is doing very well, but because her surgery was difficult, her recovery will be a little slower than the younger children. Until the chest tubes are removed she will not be able to try walking, but that will come soon. Meanwhile she will have plenty of time to rest, just like she was doing today when I left.

Continue your prayers for Arazoo and her mother. She is a special young lady with a sweet and gentle spirit. Both she and her mother are thankful for the surgery and the progress already made towards a full recovery, and we are thanking God with them!

Doctors Pleased With Arazoo's Progress

Posted on Tue, 01/27/2009 - 00:00 by Jonathan Miles
Arazoo could only smile faintly when I saw her in the ICU today, but her doctors are certainly pleased with her progress. Dr. Sion Houri, the ICU head, said theyd chosen a non-traditional repair of her Tetralogy of Fallot defect, which offers a better long-term prognosis at the cost of a more difficult recovery immediately post-surgery.

Arazoo was weaned from mechanical ventilation yesterday, has now made it successfully through the most difficult 24-hour period after the surgery, and her recovery is expected to be complete. Arazoos mother continues to overflow with gratitude, which she shares freely with all the hospital staff and our team.