Abdullah's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq


Posted on Thu, 01/28/2016 - 21:16 by Miriam Svensson

I had the opportunity to make a short visit to Abdullah in the ICU today. His eyes were closed when I came in but he opened them when I said his name.

He had been extubated and was breathing nicely without any supplemental oxygen. All his vital signs were looking fine. 

The nurse told me that Abdullah had been given some pain relief medication, which was probably why he looked so tired. Even so, he agreed to let me take a picture and made an effort to smile. When I said goodbye to him he said my name. It made me glad that he wasn't too sleepy to recognize me.

Thank you for your continued prayers for Abdullah. He is in the hands of our good Father, who knows the name of each one of us.

Dwelling Together in Unity

Posted on Wed, 01/27/2016 - 23:57 by Lindsay Martin

Today was a beautiful picture of our theme verse here at Shevet Achim, "brothers dwelling together in unity," found in Psalm 133. In the time that we get to spend with the families, we are able to build a close bond with them. I feel this is especially true with Abdullah. Since he is older than our other children, at first, he was very shy and didn't spend much time with us at the house. However, as he has been able to get to know us more, we have been able to get to see many sides of him. We have seen his playful side, especially when he is talking with Aveen's father, joking about something in Kurdish. We have seen his sporty side as he has shown us several photos of him in his soccer uniform. And we have seen his artistic side as he speaks about learning guitar with his music teacher in Kurdistan.

These are the moments I cherish the most. The small, insignificant moments that often get missed. The ones that build the foundation of friendship and love. The ones that make a day like today even more special.

Abdullah's surgery has been long awaited by his father, who had hoped that he would receive surgery shortly after arriving here. However, today was a bit different than usual because of Abdullah's age. Often as we join the families in the pre-op, waiting to go into surgery, we spend the time entertaining the little children that don't really understand what's coming. But Abdullah had full knowledge of what he would soon be entering into.

To help keep his mind off of the upcoming surgery, we spent some time taking pictures with Abdullah and his father, including many selfies. The tech helping us in the pre-op room was very excited when he met Abdullah because his name was also Abdullah. He was telling all the nurses to take good care of this boy because they have the same name.

After the nurses did the necessary procedures, we had some more time to spend with Abdullah and his father. We shared about our families, drew smiley faces on each others' hands and I even read a short children's story to Abdullah. He seemed to enjoy it very much even though I wasn't able to translate it for him.

Later, as Abdullah was wheeled into the ICU, he smiled and waved at us. His father remained very strong and joined us in the foyer of the hospital to wait as the surgery began.

A couple hours later, Aveen's father joined us at the hospital and it was special to see their greeting to each other. They have formed such a close friendship during their time here. I see them more as brothers than friends. Aveen's father was a strong support to Abdullah's father throughout the day. Many times I could hear him softly speaking encouraging words to him, ensuring him that Abdullah is in God's hands. How true that is.

When Abdullah's surgery was finished, we joined the doctors as they wheeled him into the elevator. His father had been strong throughout the day, not showing any weakness, but when he saw that his son was still alive and doing well, he could no longer hold back his tears.

As we walked down the long corridor that leads to the ICU, Alexa and Aveen's father were trying to catch up with us and several times I noticed Abdullah's father glance behind him, looking for his dear friend. Brothers dwelling together in unity. That's what I saw today. The beauty of friendship and the strength of family.

After Abdullah was settled in the ICU, I took his father in to finally get a close look at his beloved son. He was filled with peace knowing that his son was being well taken care of by so many nurses and doctors. The doctors said his surgery was successful and they were able to close his chest right away.

We praise God for His healing hands on Abdullah's heart and we pray that He will continue the work these next few days as he continues to heal.

"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" Psalm 133:1

Abdullah Admitted For Surgery

Posted on Tue, 01/26/2016 - 22:27 by Ruth Zellweger

We received a phonecall from the hospital this morning, asking us to bring Abdullah in for surgery tomorrow. Before we went to admit Abdullah, our community took time to pray and ask for God's guidance and wisdom. The senior surgeon is currently not operating and the surgery would be performed by another well-trained surgeon; however, with less experience. Jonathan wanted to meet him and get to know him a little bit better, and also to give the father the choice of waiting a little bit longer if he wasn't comfortable with that. 

After some time of waiting at the hospital, Abduallah was assessed by the doctor and had his blood drawn. Then we went to the echo department to meet the new surgeron, Dr. Haggai, who openly explained who he is and where he was trained. Abdullah and his father agreed for surgery tomorrow shortly after. Since Abdullah is already 18 years old, he had to sign the consent for surgery and anesthesia himself, which doesn't happen very often. Before we left father and son at the hospital, we took some time and committed Abdullah in the hands of our heavenly Father. 

We are thankful that the day for Abdullah's surgery has come, as well as for our dedicated doctors and nurses at Wolfson hospital. May God's peace be present tomorrow in the OR and in the ICU, and in the hearts of Abdullah and his father.


First Assessments

Posted on Tue, 12/22/2015 - 21:59 by Annie Magnusson

Abdullah arrived with his father arrived in our home on Sunday, and today we brought him to Wolfson for his first assessments.

The assessments included an echo and a chest x-ray. The echo showed that it will be a difficult and complicated surgery. It was a very long day at the hospital, but Abdullah patiently waited for the different assessements.

He seems like a quiet and polite personality. At the end of the day in the hospital, our staff took the families to the beach in Tel Aviv. Abdulla enjoyed that very much and started to open up and play around.

We are looking forward to the time we will have with him and to hopefully seeing his journey towards a healed heart.


Posted on Wed, 11/11/2015 - 15:05 by Sarah Powell

Abdullah is an eighteen-year-old from Kurdistan in northern Iraq. He was born with a heart defect known as Pulmonary Stenosis (PS), which means that his pulmonary valve (through which blood passes from the heart to the lungs to receive oxygen) is too narrow for the blood to pass through easily. This results in his body receiving less oxygen than it should. We hope that Abdullah will be able to join us in the near future to get this defect, which he has lived with for so long now, finally corrected.