Abdullah's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

A Beautiful Heart

Posted on Sun, 03/06/2016 - 21:03 by Lindsay Martin

On a rainy Thursday afternoon we said goodbye to a father and son that have become a part of our family here. Abdullah's time with us was longer than he had expected, but it was filled with many wonderful memories.

When Abdullah and his father first arrived to Jerusalem, they were very quiet and reserved. But, as we often experience here, we saw them both open up as we spent time with them. Abdullah's father enjoyed going on walks with Aveen's father, often going to pray and walk around the shops in the Old City. He was also very excited to learn different English words like mother and father, sister and brother, and anything else he could hear us saying. It was beautiful to see the way he became close friends with Aveen's father, both of them supporting each other through their children’s' surgeries.

Both father and son are quiet and unassuming. Though they are very hospitable and welcoming, they do not try to make themselves known or try to be the focus of conversation. I believe I could even say that they are very humble people. They never asked for much and appreciated what they had. I certainly learned a lot from seeing how they live; to appreciate the blessings I have been given.

Abdullah is a very shy young man and often doesn't have much to say. But he would light up when talking about certain things that he loves like soccer, his family, and his beautiful home in Kurdistan. Abdullah even knows some English words and can write in English letters. He does very well in school and had a difficult time being away for so long, worried that his teachers would be upset.

There is so much I could say about Abdullah, but I think the words that would best sum up his time with us here are: a beautiful heart. In everything he did I could see his heart. I could see how he cares for others, especially his brothers. I could see his heart in the way he would bless others by preparing a beautiful salad for many of our community lunches.

Not only is his heart now fully healed, but he can now do so many things he couldn't do before, like playing soccer. Some time after Abdullah's surgery was over and he was back in Jerusalem, we took an outing to the park where Abdullah was able to play soccer again. We had seen him smile before, but the smile he had on his face when he was playing soccer was one like I had never seen. It came from every part of his being; he was doing what he loved to do. And that day I was reminded of why Shevet exists. That in some part, by God's grace, we are able to have a role in saving these precious lives. To know Abdullah can do what he loves, what brings him joy, gives glory to God and His healing power.

I hope for and look forward to visiting Abdullah and his family at their home in Kurdistan. To meet his brothers and his amazing mother who grew her son into who he is. To not only have them be a part of our family but to also become a part of their family. And I pray one day they may know our Father who loves them so much more than they will ever comprehend.

"I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds." Psalm 9:1

The Final Cut

Posted on Mon, 02/29/2016 - 22:22 by Mateo Patiño Trujillo

This morning was the last echo for Abdullah. As is normal, he was anxious with expectation because he is close to returning home and he misses his friends and family. Because of that he couldn’t believe what was happening today. The echo presented good results--he is doing well and recovering, and he's a strong boy with a strong heart.  When the doctor told us that he is doing well and with the help of God he can go home, it felt like the beautiful sky outside.

The echo ended early. That gave all of us time to go around the hospital and spend time with Aveen and her father. Walking around the hospital, Abdullah saw the doctor that did his surgery, Doctor Hagi (pictured above). So we took advantage of seeing him, and Ruth saved the special moment in a picture. You can see the gratitude of Abdullah with the knowledge and courage of the doctor captured in one photo. And in the end, the glory of God is expressed in it.

I met Abdullah three weeks ago. If someone sees this young man today, they would never think that he just had a heart surgery at eighteen years old. Until this moment I have see him playing football, basketball, laughing, (etc) and now he is almost leaving and I never saw him complaining about anything.

By lunch time we were all at the same table: Abdullah and his father, Aveen’s father, Alexa, Ruth, Ilana, and me talking about the good things that happened today when something that moved me so much started to happen. Aveen’s father was taking off the hospital bracelet that was on Abdullah's wrist. That makes me just realize that it's close to the time in which our friend is going to continue with his life at home. That was the moment Ruth and I realized we were witnessing the final cut. 

Abdullah and his father will travel back to Kurdistan soon, and we appreciate your prayers as they spend their last days in Israel. 


A Little More Time

Posted on Mon, 02/22/2016 - 19:02 by Naomi Knight
I first met Abdullah just under two weeks ago. I did not think he was in recovery from heart surgery. He is strong, and he continues to get stronger. Today we had another echo check-up for him. We were not quite sure whether this was going to be his last echo or whether he was going to be discharged completely from the hospital, so we went into the room with excited anticipation. 
His heart is strong and he is doing incredibly well. The doctors felt however, that because it has been such a short amount of time since his surgery that they would like to do one more check-up next week. Abdullah was upset about this as he is missing his home and his friends a lot. However, it is the best decision to make sure he is well before he leaves us here and it is a blessing to us to be able to enjoy one more week with him.
He is such a loving and generous guy! He was keeping Nardeen entertained today while they were waiting for their echos and he is so good with her. He is a blessing in our community and we are fortunate to have a little more time with him.
We pray that God brings peace to his heart and that he can find happiness (and not sadness from missing his home) in his seemingly potential final week with us. 

A Day to Remember

Posted on Thu, 02/18/2016 - 22:33 by Mateo Patiño Trujillo

Yesterday a group of volunteers went to the park with Abdullah and his father, to spend a special moment in community playing and sharing food, full of joy and happy talking. It was indescribable how Abdullah's face draws a smile when he starts to play football--making some passes and some dribbling skills.

Also he was able to spend some time with his dad in fresh air away from the hospital--in a new environment with his friends at Shevet Achim and his father. He was showing his recovery with a big smile and everybody saw the hand and will of God at the park through Abdullah’s pleased look.

We were glad to be part of his happiness, and making Abdullah’s day, a different day. We all know it will be a day to remember.

For sure, it's going to be a day to remember.

A Beating Heart

Posted on Mon, 02/15/2016 - 23:54 by Jonatan Aalbæk

Today I had my first visit at the hospital together with Ruth, Brenda, Miriam, Abdullah and his father, Nardeen and her mother. I got to follow Abdullah in his treatments, this 18-year-old boy from Kurdistan, that I was not able to speak with at all. A few nods when I took the pictures were all that our communication came down to. But to walk with this guy today actually made an impact on me. Abdullah had his heart surgery two and a half weeks ago, and today he had one of his routine examinations. After some time in the waiting room, we were called in, and Abdullah had an echocardiogram done. We entered and the doctor started his work. All of a sudden the heart of Abdullah was revealed at the screen above the doctor, and for the first time in my life I saw a beating, living heart of a human being. How incredible is that? And then I knew, that this guy had had heart problems his whole life until coming to Israel. I find it hard to describe, what it did to me, but I think that I felt some kind of awe for life itself as I saw that heart pumping.

It turned out that Abdullah was doing really good. One week ago he had fluid around his heart and lungs. There was none of this anymore. That meant that he could get his medicine reduced, and besides that the doctor told us, that next week's examination probably is going to be the last one for Abdullah. To me it was so exciting to experience these happenings so closely.

A bit later, we saw a nurse who pulled out the stitches from Abdullah's surgery. Then we went for some lunch. Due to very little waiting today for both Abdullah and Nardeen, we went to the beach in the afternoon. We stood in the edge of the water, collected some shells and took some pictures. That was just nice and relaxing. And now as I am sitting here back in Jerusalem I can only admire the great piece of work that God is doing in this region. That is lifechanging - I saw that with my own eyes.

Released from the Hospital and Improving

Posted on Tue, 02/09/2016 - 23:22 by Miriam Svensson
When we came to the hospital today Abdullah was looking much better than the last time I saw him. He was smiling and could breathe normally without coughing. The ward doctor told me that they had done a new chest x-ray. It showed the same picture as the last one, but she explained that it was good that the condition had not worsened.
After lunch I was told Abdullah should have a new echo done. He walked all the way to the echo department without any problem, which was a sign of improvement. The doctor that performed the echo told us that it looked very good. The fluid that he saw two days ago had decreased.
Back at the children's ward we had to wait for the senior doctor to see some blood tests results. But then we finally got the good news that Abdullah could leave the hospital and go home to Jerusalem with us. The medicine he is taking is expected to continue helping his lungs to heal.

Thank you for keeping Abdullah in your prayers! We are grateful that our good Lord has been holding his hand over him, even through this setback. Now we trust in Him that Abdullah will continue to heal well. 

More Time

Posted on Mon, 02/08/2016 - 16:22 by Alexa Bigl

As I walked into Abdullah's room at Wolfson this morning and saw him still in his hospital pajamas, I figured he was not going to be allowed to come back to Jerusalem with us.

Unfortunately, this assumption was correct and Abdullah will be spending at least one more night in the hospital. The results from yesterday's chest x-ray came back with some concerns. In addition to the fluid the doctors saw around his heart on the echo, Abdullah also has fluid around both of his lungs. On one side, this fluid is exerting enough pressure it has caused that lung to partially collapse. Abdullah is on new, stronger medications and is receiving supplemental oxygen via nasal cannula. While he has some pain associated with the fluid collection, Abdullah remains content and easy-going. We lift up prayers of healing while thanking God for this young man and his father.

We are grateful our coworker, Miriam, was very thorough in her assessment of Abdullah yesterday and noticed the subtle changes he was showing so we could quickly get him help and increased interventions at the hospital. God is so faithful in how He works, including how He works through us!

Unexpected Hospital Visit

Posted on Sun, 02/07/2016 - 21:53 by Miriam Svensson
Abdullah had been doing well over the weekend, although he'd needed medicine to control the pain in his healing chest. But this morning I called the hospital, because I was concered Abdullah's heart and breathing rates were a little higher than before. The doctor wanted us to bring him in, so we went together with the hospital crew for the day.
At the children's ward it was a very busy day with many patients. But quite soon vital signs, blood tests, and an ECG were all taken. Abdullah was calm and quiet during the tests. He was coughing occasionally, but denied having any pain. As there were no signs of any acute problem, we were allowed to go and have lunch while waiting for the test results.
After lunch we were directed to the echo departement. Since Abdullah was at the hospital they wanted to perform the check-up echocardiogram that was scheduled for the next day. At first, everything looked good. But after a while, the doctor found a small amount of fluid next to the heart. This is a sign of inflammation and not unusual after heart surgery. Abdullah will get some antiinflammatory medicine for this and should come for a new echo in a few days.
Back at the ward the doctor there wanted to examine Abdullah some more. After listening to his lungs she sent him for a chest x-ray. Then she decided to let him stay at the ward overnight. This way they will have more time to see how he is doing and make sure they don't find anything serious. 
Please join us in prayer for Abdullah and his father, as they unexpectedly will spend the night at the hospital. We know they are in the hands of our loving Father. We are also grateful that the staff at the hospital are concerned about Abdullah's wellbeing and will take good care of him.

Return to Jerusalem

Posted on Mon, 02/01/2016 - 17:37 by Alexa Bigl

Five days since his open heart surgery and Abdullah is back home with us in Jerusalem. The doctors are very happy with how he is recovering and the successful surgical repair continues to look good on the echos. Next Monday we will return to Wolfson for another echo. Over this next week we will be praying Abdullah's heart and body continue to heal. Watching him get up from bed and into the car made me aware that Abdullah is still in a fair bit of pain.

This is normal and expected but a good reminder that God's healing hand is still at work on this young man. We are so happy to have Abdullah and his father back with us in Jerusalem; we are looking forward to continuing to build our relationships with them and for many more memories!

Healing Beautifully

Posted on Sun, 01/31/2016 - 20:14 by Lindsay Martin

Abdullah is doing wonderfully! On Friday, Aveen's father and I were able to visit the family at the hospital. It was a blessed time sharing Kurdish food and spending quality time together. The doctors removed his chest tubes and by Friday night he was moved into the children's ward! Praise God for Abdullah's swift healing.

Miriam went to visit son and father at the hospital today and both are doing well. The doctors hope that Abdullah will be able to come home tomorrow to continue his healing in Jerusalem.

It is a joy to see his smile and we are thankful for God's beautiful healing of his heart.