Ahmad's Heart Surgery


Devoted Love

Posted on Sun, 09/14/2014 - 23:59 by Kristina Kayser

Nearly six weeks have passed since I was last at baby Ahmad's side. He may have been out of sight, but he was most certainly not out of mind for myself and the Shevet community. Rather, Ahmad has been consistently in our prayers and very close to our hearts as we have walked this road out beside his devoted father. I could not help but hope that today, I could finally see this beautiful boy. 

Hopes were fulfilled when Natalie and I hesitantly stepped inside Ahmad's room behind his father. "Would we be turned away again?" I wondered. The nurse graciously permitted us to stay, albeit several meters away. We stood and watched, quite contentedly, as the nurse bathed and weighed him. It was also nice to observe the way Ahmad's father quickly took on the role of comforter and "baby whisperer." Whenever Ahmad began to fuss, he quickly spoke to him in his best baby dialect, soothing his son instantly. He just looked up at his father with wide, adoring eyes.

There was more good news to be had as well. From this afternoon on, Ahmad is no longer an ICU patient and is receiving care as a child who is in the regular surgical unit. The same isolation room and precautions will be used as doctors wait for the latest bacterial test results; nevertheless, Ahmad is without fever improving in appetite. 

This was wonderful to hear, and we praise God for his progress. Ahmad's father was requested to remain at the hospital and assist in his son's care-- a request he was happy to oblige. Please continue to pray for Ahmad's ongoing healing and progress. As Ahmad's father continues loving his son with such great affection and steadfastness, I am reminded of our Heavenly Father who loves and cares for us beyond compare.

In Everything Give Thanks

Posted on Fri, 09/12/2014 - 13:17 by Ruth Zellweger

For the last days we have been anticipating the discharge of baby Ahmad. It seems that he is successfully beating the bacterial infection that has caused him to be in isolation for several weeks, even though the hospital staff is still very cautious and has not lowered their requirements for protection from spreading the bacteria. In the early afternoon, Rebekah and I went to the hospital together with Abu Ahmad. When we passed the Secondary ICU, we saw an empty room. We had heard earlier today that Ahmad was transferred to a single room, but still in isolation. Abu Ahmad went to find his son, and soon after came back and led me to his room.

A kind nurse explained that Ahmad was still being monitored 24 hours a day, and that he is slowly gaining weight. Abu Ahmad and I went to find Dr. Houri in the ICU, and he explained Ahmad's current status. Four blood cultures had all come back positive, and the doctors strongly assume that Ahmad has a bacterial endocarditis, which is an inflammation of the inner layer of the heart. Because of this, Ahmad's stay at the hospital and time of treatment will be prolonged for several more weeks. Abu Ahmad initially took this news well, but on our way home it was obvious that he struggled with what he had heard. He needs our continued prayers and encouragement, to not give up hoping and being patient.

We praise God for what He has already done in Ahmad's life; how He has sustained him until now. Even though we do not understand why there are added complications, we choose to trust that God has a good plan and that He has everything under control. We thank Him for the weight Ahmad is gaining, and that he is less irritable. 
Ahmad still has a long road ahead of him, but he is in the capable hands of the medical staff, and not least in the hands of our loving heavenly Father. 


Ahmad Nearing the Finish Line

Posted on Sun, 09/07/2014 - 20:20 by Kristina Kayser

Sweet baby Ahmad is still healing behind the doors of secondary ICU at Wolfson, now exactly five weeks following his open heart surgery. While several people have had the privilege of visiting him in his isolation room, I have not yet been able to secure permission to see him up close. Nevertheless, I did get a few precious minutes with Dr. Houri, the chief ICU physician, to speak about Ahmad's present situation.

According to Dr. Houri, Ahmad is very near to being discharged from Wolfson's care. His heart is functioning quite well, and the residual VSD (small hole between the lower chambers) he still has, may not require further surgery. Today's chest X-ray showed minimal congestion that will be treated with medication. Also, tests for bacteria continue to show negative results, praise God, but strict precautions are still being implemented and will continue to be so even after Ahmad is discharged. Lastly, Dr. Houri reported that Ahmad is being weaned off a commonly used pain medication used when children are critically ill for prolonged periods. As doctors continue this weaning process, Ahmad is adjusting normally, which includes times of increased irritability. This is difficult for his father to see, who naturally equates crying with something being wrong. He was also frustrated today with the day-to-day uncertainty of when his son will be discharged. 

I believe that God has already done amazing things in this little baby's life, and His faithfulness towards Ahmad will not diminish. Please pray that Ahmad will experience new healing each day and that his father will experience fresh mercy and strength from the Lord! 

Thank God for Healing Work

Posted on Tue, 09/02/2014 - 17:45 by Jesse Tilman

Ahmad is doing well. Today some camera crews were around to see some of the children – mainly the ones from Gaza, I believe – but Ahmad had some time with them as well. Amazingly, they were even allowed in to see him in the secondary ICU. His father spent some time with Ahmad and was glad to report that he is drinking milk. Our little boy is sleeping peacefully in the pictures his father took. Thank God for His healing work. 

A Father's Joy

Posted on Mon, 09/01/2014 - 23:03 by Ruth Zellweger

Our community has not been able to see much of little Ahmad over the past three weeks due to his bacterial infection. Sometimes we are able to see him from afar, but often entry to his room is denied. Besides our regular phone calls to the ICU, his father is our main source of information on how Ahmad is doing. Today, a beaming Abu Ahmad returned back to Jerusalem. His beloved son is doing better with each day. And Abu Ahmad took some pictures that we want to share with you. Thank you so much for faithfully interceding for this precious little boy. To God be the glory.

The Harvest Has Come

Posted on Sun, 08/31/2014 - 21:16 by Jesse Tilman

Visiting Ahmad and seeing the steady healing taking place is like seeing regular growth in a garden. Sometimes you wish it was faster, but it is rewarding just seeing what God is doing, and in time the fruit and flowers appear. Even so, Ahmad is on his way to wholeness.  

He is extubated now and desparately wanting to eat, but so far he is still only on a feeding tube. His father entered the secondary ICU today and spent over half-an-hour with him. A hairnet, gloves, and blue anti-germ spreading garb are still required, which might look strange to his young son, but his voice still carries the same comfort.

We heard from Dr. Houri that he hopes to be able to discharge Ahmad early next week, if not late this week. However, because of the resistant nature of his bacterial infection, he would like to keep Ahmad separate from our other children here on Prophets Street. Pray for us all that this can be worked out to satisfaction. There was some question at the end of the day as to whether or not Ahmad’s father could or would stay at the hospital this night to be near by. He had come prepared to do so, but with the children’s ward nearly full and the closest sure sleeping quarters a good walk away, it was decided that he would return with us. May Ahmad’s young body continue to mend as the Lord does His healing. God’s work is often beyond us, as the parable of the farmer’s growing seed explains:

“The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29

Unseen Healing

Posted on Thu, 08/28/2014 - 19:38 by Nick Boyum

Little Ahmad's father was noticeably anxious when we loaded the van today to visit his son in the ICU at Wolfson Hospital. You could hardly pick the smile out of the plethora of emotions flooding his concerned face; his eyes were full of concern for his son's condition. All of these concerns and anxieties were erased when we arrived at Wolfson. He disappeared behind the closed doors of the secondary ICU, and several minutes later emerged with the biggest smile and brightest eyes I have every seen adorn the man's face. All he could say was "humdidallah, humdidallah" ("praise God!") over and over. I understood little of his Arabic, but by his reaction I knew that his son had improved greatly. After tracking down a translation, we learned that all of his chest tubes have been removed, but he is still relying on some oxygen to remain stable. None of us were able to go in and see him, but we knew he was in good hands as we walked out the doors.

The father and the small crew we had with us all jumped back in the van and reaped the rewards of the Lord's healing: an afternoon at the beach.

The surf was rough, but this did not stop the other father with us, Ahmed's father, from diving right into the sea. I often forget what joy the sea can bring for one who has hardly ever been. Although I find myself drawn there time and time again, I am always reminded of the immensity of God's love for his children. As I fought to swim against the roaring waves, I thought of a passage from Job 11 that demonstrates the power of the sea: "Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? ...their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea." Let us lift up a prayer of thanks to the God who has given little Ahmad everything he needs!

Ahmad Slowly Improving

Posted on Sun, 08/24/2014 - 22:40 by Brian Mace

Ruth, Konrad, Abu Ahmad, and I spent the day in Tel Aviv. We went to Wolfson and Sheba hospitals to visit and/or bring back to Jerusalem two of four children, amongst whom was Ahmad, who we were not actually able to visit; but his father was able to see him in the quarantined ICU unit.

Ahmad is slowly improving but fragile, and he still has a long way to go. The hospital hopes to remove his chest tubes tomorrow to see how he will manage. The hospital's culture test result on the bacteria, received today, was negative. However, Ahmad will still needs to be kept in isolation due to the aggressive nature of the bacteria.

On the way to Wolfson, we took Abu Ahmad to the beach in Tel Aviv, which he thoroughly enjoyed as he told us how happy he was to be there. He is a lovely, kind dad who loves and misses his precious son very much.

May You Lift Up Their Heads

Posted on Wed, 08/20/2014 - 22:24 by Jesse Tilman

Ahmad is still in the secondary ICU room alone because of his infection. The room looks strange, cleared out with the other three beds missing. Thank the Lord we were able to see Ahmad for a little while with his father today.

Before going, during our morning staff meeting, we invited Ahmad’s father in so that we could pray over him and his son. As a group, we took hands and asked our heavenly Father’s aid. With Ahmad in bad health for some days, his father is having a rough time. One of Ahmad's lungs is still collapsed, and there is some fluid that is being drained. The infection is making this go slower than usual.

At the hospital, Jonathan spoke with a doctor and was told that we could see Ahmad. But at the door to the secondary ICU, they asked us to wait an hour until they had Ahmad situated after a CT scan they had just performed. The positive words from the doctor made it sound like it was just a matter of time for healing. Whether in a few days or more, it would come.

After the hour passed, Jonathan and Archie went in to see Ahmad, along with his father. The father was allowed to go up to the bed, and he spent a little time with his boy.

As a child from another land with a strange virus, the doctors are giving Ahmad the full isolation treatment, hoping it won’t spread. At this point, we are walking with Ahmad and his dad day by day, trusting through the uncertainties.

Please pray that the Lord would lift up their heads with joy at His healing work!

In God's Capable Hands

Posted on Sun, 08/17/2014 - 23:08 by Ruth Zellweger

The past days have been an emotional roller-coaster for Abu Ahmad (Ahmad's father). We rejoiced together over the successful extubation of Ahmad on Wednesday, trusting God that Ahmad's recovery is progressing. Thursday afternoon, Abu Ahmad returned to Jerusalem to spend the weekend with us. Because of the aggressive bacterial infection that Ahmad has, this was recommended by the doctors, and it gave Abu Ahmad a break from the hospital environment. For our Shevet family, his presence in our home was very noticeable. He is very gentle and kind with everyone he interacts with, especially  children. And he always looks for ways to help. Friday afternoon, he motivated the other fathers to clean their room and our front courtyard. At some point I looked outside and saw three smiling men diligently doing this to serve us. Abu Ahmad is a very humble man, who doesn't ask for much but gives everything he has to ease someone else's burden. His love and caring heart for his son touches me deeply. 

Friday evening, just before our Shabbat dinner, he told me that he had heard that Ahmad had been intubated again. I checked with the hospital and the doctor confirmed this. Ahmad had suddenly been in respiratory distress, which meant that his oxygen saturation dropped and his breathing became labored. In addition, his heart rate dropped dangerously low, and he developed again a pneumothorax (a condition where air is collecting in the pleural space between the lung and chest wall). Chest tubes had to be inserted to get rid of that air. Ahmad was unstable for a while, but with additional medications he stabilized after some time. We talked with Abu Ahmad and let him make the decision of whether he wanted to stay in Jerusalem or return to the hospital to be near his son. He chose the latter. When we arrived at the hospital, we both entered the isolation room, but only Abu Ahmad was allowed to the bedside. After he had put on a special garment for protection, as well as medical gloves, he stood near his son.

Tiny baby Ahmad looked even smaller in the big hospital bed. His father started praying for his son's life. We were in there for about ten minutes, then he wanted to leave the room. I could tell that he was broken and my heart hurt for him. He mentioned to one of our co-workers on the phone that he believed that only the supplied oxygen through the mechanic ventilator kept his son alive. He was at a point where he had lost hope that his son would make it. Our community kept both father and son in our prayers over the weekend. 

Today, Rebekah, Konrad, and I went to visit Ahmad. We saw his father wandering through the hallways of the children's department. He told us that Ahmad was still intubated and that he might need a catheterization because of a hole in his heart. Since we only can communicate in a very limited way, he asked me to talk to Dr. Houri, who was in the nurse's station. Dr. Houri confirmed that the cardiologists are considering a catheterization because of a VSD (a hole between the ventricles of the heart). During Ahmad's heart surgery, the surgeons had closed one VSD, which changed the pressures in the heart. Due to these pressure changes another VSD showed up that the cardiologists had suspected but not yet seen because of the specific location in the muscular tissue of the heart. He also told us that they had changed the way they supply Ahmad with oxygen to help his lungs recover from the pneumothorax.

Ahmad has a long way to go, and his father will need lots of strength and endurance, but what gives us peace is that in all these circumstances, God is close to baby Ahmad and knows every detail of his life. He knows the first months of his life, and he knows everything about the days to come. Thank you for continuously interceding with us for Ahmad, the doctors and medical staff, and Ahmad's family.