Ahmed's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Beautiful Reunion

Posted on Mon, 08/29/2016 - 19:35 by Olivier Bareaud

It has been three weeks already since I arrived in Kurdistan, and already so many experiences.

Yesterday, Sophie, Ruth, Hezhan and myself went to visit Ahmed's family. I met Ahmed and his mother last April during my first time in the Shevet Achim community in Jerusalem. It was such a pleasure and privilege to meet Ahmed again as I spent some very special and intense moments with him at Wolfson hospital in Tel-Aviv some months ago. I left Israel just before Ahmed's surgery, and sadly I did not have the opportunity to see him afterward. I became very close to him in Jerusalem. Ahmed was such a smiley and naive little boy, always ready to laugh and play but also very sensitive. So when I heard that we will go to visit him, I was very happy to know that I will see my little friend again. We drove one hour yesterday to get to his home. Unfortunately, the father who is a Peshmerga (Kurdish soldier) was not there and was supposed to come back home the next day.

Instead we had the pleasure to meet his cousin, a policeman in Sulemania. He and the mother decided to drive us to a kind of big swimming pool where children and men enjoy good swimming time together. We had a good time there and went to a small amusement park, where we spent some time talking, sharing and taking photos.

Afterward, we came back to the house where we met more family members - the uncle's mother, cousins and children. We had a beautiful meal all together. Families are always very welcoming here in Kurdistan and always provide more food than we can eat. We enjoyed this good dinner together and then spent some time around tea and fruit. Ahmed was a little bit shy at first but not for long; some minutes later I once again found the little funny and smiley child I met in Jerusalem some months before.

Then Ahmed's uncle came to join us - he is also a Peshmerga and shared with us some stories he had with IS during his military missions. We stayed with the family from 5pm to almost 10pm, and then decided to head back to our community house in Quaiwan City. It has been an immense pleasure to meet Ahmed again and his family. Ruth and Sophie really enjoyed to see the mother as they became close friends with her during her time in Jerusalem. For myself, it is an amazing experience to meet all these families here in Kurdistan; all very welcoming. All these meetings have taught me a lot as a believer in Messiah - most of them are Muslims and know the faith in Messiah that the Shevet Achim members have. They allowed use to pray in their house, and showed us such beautiful hospitality.

A Bittersweet Goodbye

Posted on Tue, 06/14/2016 - 20:40 by Basye Peek

Last night our community said a bittersweet farewell to our precious Ahmed and his mother. After many weeks here in Jerusalem with us, both before and after his surgery, we are overflowing with love as Ahmed returns home with a beautiful, healthy heart and a whole host of new toys, memories, friends and family members.

Ahmed came to Shevet from Kurdistan in early April with his mother, who left her four-month-old child at home in order to fight for a healthy life for her first son. The two were able to travel with Zina and her mother, and the children and mothers alike have become close companions. After over a month of waiting, Ahmed received his surgery on May 18 2016 and although the surgery went well, Ahmed experienced complications and was found to be bleeding through the night. After being rushed back into surgery, Ahmed was finally placed in the ICU to recover and has since done so beautifully. The past three weeks, his echoes have come back clear and he has regained strength and with it his humour and joyful smile.   

Tonight we celebrated the journey that God has brought Ahmed through in the last two months at Shevet and his three years of life. We gathered late last night to enjoy cake, fruit, and tea with our mothers, and of course to share our favourite memories and our gratitude for the time we have spent with Ahmed and his mother.

One common theme that became clear throughout our time of sharing was what a wonderful, gentle, and strong mother she is to Ahmed. It seemed that each person who shared mentioned what a wonderful example of a parent she is, how beautiful it has been to watch her love her son through each stage of this journey. She shared with us that she has kept a diary of this whole experience, and that one day she hopes Ahmed will understand how much she wept for him and how she carried him through this time of hurt and healing. She has been a calming presence here at Shevet; a steady reminder of unconditional love for all of us, and she will be dearly missed.

We shared another special moment when Ahmed's mother presented Josh with a gift for Shevet, a lovely ceramic clock with the word “Shalom” in Hebrew and English. What a wonderful reminder that in all of the work we do, we are building hope for peace, and resting in the promise of God’s shalom for his people.

She also shared a lovely card with us written in impeccable English, expressing her gratitude for her whole family and inviting each of us to her house in Kurdistan. What a wonderful reunion that would be!

After our time of sharing and thanks, Ahmed was finally able to open his gifts, and he especially loved the new animals he received.  Always eager to play, he jumped right in and began making animal noises to everyone’s amusement.

We ended the night by watching the video of Ahmed’s journey which brought tears of joy and bittersweet sadness to the eyes of many volunteers, including myself. As always, we finished by giving thanks to God for Ahmed and his life and healthy heart through song and prayer, lifting up our praise in our words and our hand motions- Ahmed included!

Praise God for His mighty work in Ahmed’s life, for His healing hand on His heart, and for His faithfulness in bringing joy to each of us through Ahmed’s presence here at Shevet. Ahmed and his mother will be so greatly missed, but we will continue to pray that we will all be reunited one day.

“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,” Psalm 103:1-3.

Goodbye to our Beautiful Giant

Posted on Mon, 06/13/2016 - 18:32 by Valentina Jaimes Vargas
It's has been a beautiful process with Ahmed, and he has been so brave. Throughout the process, Ahmed took only giant steps due to this bravery. His recovery has been even more successful than we thought it was going to be. He had his surgery, a week later he was back in Jerusalem with us, and now we have the pleasure to announce tomorrow he is going back to his home in Kurdistan! 
Today in the hospital, we played all the time. It was a long wait, but Ahmed was full of happiness and love. As he had his final echo, we could see he how has progressed. He tried to stay as calm he could during the echo.
We can also see how his mother was calmer, and she filled him with an incredible love and peace. They also had the opportunity to say goodbye to all the doctors, nurses, and the other mothers as well. Through all this love, we have had the chance to see Ahmed imprint into all of our hearts. 
For this reason, today I am extremely happy to see Ahmed and his mother so well, happy, and calm. They are ready to go home. It is definitely going to be hard to be without them, but I praise God for giving them victory. I pray God blesses them in a beautiful way with lots of mercy and love.
I am certainly never going to delete all the giant footprints he left on my heart, and I will never forget that smile with which Ahmed sweetens our days.

Kisses, Tears and Smiles

Posted on Mon, 06/06/2016 - 21:27 by Alexa Bigl

Ahmed had an echo today. Everything looks great! Ahmed's heart is healing and he is progressing very well. There's a chance next week will be his final echo! Please join us in praying for continued healing and that the possibility of Ahmed and his mom being reunited with their family will come to fruition. 

Ahmed began the day well, blowing kisses to the nurses in the children's ward. He then continued to happily kiss, wave, and give high fives to the cardiologists before his echo. However, once it was time for Ahmed to have the echo, the tears began. He was very scared and was upset when they had to recapture a couple of images after we thought it was over. Luckily, it was soon completed with the good news, and Ahmed was again waving and no longer scared. 

We headed back down to the children's ward where Ahmed's chest tube stitches were removed. Then, we had the opportunity to visit the other children at Wolfson. Ahmed was wonderful company for the other kids. As we played hide-and-seek, Ahmed's contagious smile had Zina laughing too. 

Praise God for the continued healing of Ahmed and for the beautiful relationship we have with him and his wonderful mom!  

The Road to Healing

Posted on Mon, 05/30/2016 - 21:45 by Basye Peek

Brenda, Rebekah and I spent the day at Wolfson hospital, visiting Zina and Baran, and bringing Ahmed and his mother along with us. Our main mission today was to bring Ahmed in for his post-surgery echo. We’ve absolutely loved having him back at home this past week; he’s been recovering so well, gradually regaining an appetite and asking for more to drink. While he’s still mostly resting during the day, he has joined us at meals and loves laughing with us.

When we arrived at Wolfson, we found there was a large line in front of us waiting for an echo. With only one doctor today we had quite a while to wait, but the time passed quickly as we colored and played with other waiting children. While Ahmed was perfectly calm before heading into the room, when the time came for his echo there were nothing but tears. Thankfully, he kept still as the doctor moved the wand around his chest.

Praise the Lord, he passed with flying colors! It was a beautiful moment of relief to hear that his heart is healing well and there is no fluid. Of course, he will return next week for another echo. We are hopeful his recovery will continue to progress positively. Even after all his tears, Ahmed was the first to say goodbye to the doctor who performed the echo, waving and blowing kisses- what a sweet reminder of love and hospitality.

On another note, today we had a consultation with a doctor about Ahmed's hernia that may need surgery. Next week when he returns for the echo, the doctors will assess the urgency and severity of the case and recommend whether he will receive surgery here, in Kurdistan, or at all. Please continue to lift up his whole healing in prayer! 

Giant Steps and a Kiss to all

Posted on Wed, 05/25/2016 - 21:03 by Valentina Jaimes Vargas
As a community we feel extremely happy when we see a child progressing in the way that Ahmed is doing. After a successful surgery and an amazing recovery, we are extremely joyful to announce that Ahmed is now with us here, in our Shevet Jerusalem home. 
Today we went to visit Ahmed at Wolfson Hospital and we could see that he was doing really well. Since the day after his surgery, he has been eating normally, playing and smiling with his mother and with all of us. We had the chance to play with him and spend all day in his company.
After a few hours Doctor Alona went to check on him in the children's ward, and she decided to do a last echo and consider whether he was ready to continue his recovery back in Jerusalem. Everything went well and the doctor said that when a child is improving in the way that Ahmed is doing, it is better if he continues his recovery at home.
I thank God because He has had His hand over the life of this little boy. He answered our prayers asking for healing in his heart and the heart of his mother. His mother showed the love of God through providing support to Zina's mom during Zina's surgery. Although it has been a short time, we can see the huge differences in Ahmed's life after his successful surgery. We can also notice how he, and his mother feel safe and comfortable when they are with us. When Ahmed had first arrived at the hospital he had been afraid of the nurses and today he was sending kisses to all of them.
We praise God for his wonders! Ahmed is taking giant steps on the road back to his home in Kurdistan.

Moments to Treasure

Posted on Mon, 05/23/2016 - 21:03 by Mateo Patiño Trujillo

This morning we arrived at Wolfson hospital just as the nurses were giving Ahmed a shower. He was crying and we couldn't see him. Once his shower was over, I had the opportunity to sit with him in the ICU and it was really exciting. He had stopped crying by this point so his mom and I were able to feed him his lunch. After a while, it was our turn to go and have lunch. We did this quickly so we could go and join Ahmed again. 

This time Brenda went in first and spent some time with him for a couple of minutes. Then I was able to see Ahmed again. The nurses took him out of the Secondary ICU and to the children's ward. He is recovering so well. When the nurses were taking him out of the room he started to cry again as he was a little bit nervous, but when he was settled again, everything was okay.

A little later, Ahmed's mom asked me to stay with him and play so she could take a shower. It is not easy to stay at the hospital without the liberties of taking a shower or leaving to have some alone time; she has to be with her child nearly all of the time. During this afternoon she was able to rest for a while and relax while Brenda and I could play with Ahmed and his toys (a balloon, a car, a stuffed toy animal, and some glasses in the shape of a heart). The time passed quickly, and it was soon time to leave.

It was difficult to say goodbye because we had had such a great time and we miss them both a lot. When we were leaving we said the phrase we use instead of goodbye with Ahmed. The words are Kurdish, "sho shad" which means good night. Ahmed likes to use it instead of saying 'goodbye'. We said sho shad and we sent some kisses through the air. We ended our day together with a big hug.

Now we are just waiting for his discharge from the hospital, which will hopefully be soon.

Ow, ow, ow

Posted on Thu, 05/19/2016 - 22:40 by Basye Peek

This morning Valentina, Suhail and I travelled to Wolfson hospital to check in on Ahmed and his mother after their long night of surgery. At around 11 pm yesterday we received word that Ahmed had been bleeding post-surgery, and was taken back into surgery late in the night. This morning - praise God - Ahmed was in the ICU breathing on his own and the bleeding had completely stopped.

When we arrived, we checked in with Baran and his mother and then headed straight to the ICU to see Ahmed. The ICU nurses were in particularly good moods this morning and let both Valentina and me, and Ahmed’s mother, in at the same time to visit. When we walked through the door, Ahmed was already awake and smiled under his oxygen mask when he recognized Valentina. As soon as he saw his mother, Ahmed started saying, “Ow, ow, ow!” This being my first week in Israel, and with my limited Kurdish knowledge, I immediately started to worry, looking around the room for an available nurse to ease whatever pain I figured Ahmed must be in. But as his mother came over smiling, Valentina explained that this was one of the best things we could have heard from little Ahmed- he wanted water! Less than 16 hours after surgery, Ahmed was asking for water ("ow" in Kurdish), and so his mother joyfully obliged.

Later, Ahmed drank some milk and was changed from an oxygen mask to a nasal cannula and seemed much happier without the large mask and straps around his face. Ahmed’s mother was anxious to know when he would be transferred out of the ICU, and a kind nurse told us that if he continues to recover as well as he has been today, he could be moved as soon as tomorrow!

Please join with us in continuing to lift up Ahmed and his mother in prayer for peace, comfort, and healing, and praise God for his successful surgery and appetite this morning!

“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,” Psalm 103:2-4.

Complications in Ahmed's Surgery

Posted on Wed, 05/18/2016 - 22:55 by Alejandra Becerra

Ahmed and his mother (along with myself, Rebekah, and Suhail) left very early this morning to go to Wolfson hospital. After several weeks of waiting for Ahmed's surgery, the day finally had arrived. We got to the hospital, and the preparation for the surgery began in the operating room. Doctor Sasson was in charge of Ahmed.

The operation began at 8:25am. Ahmed's mom was very concerned and there were tears in her eyes. I used the time Ahmed was in the OR preperation room to read some Psalms and pray for the surgery. It is comforting finding strength through the scriptures; it's God Himself touching each heart.

While we were waiting once the surgery began, we spent some time with Ahmed and Baran's moms, who gave us a cup of coffee. We were trying to distract Ahmed's mother from her concern and worry, although she did not want to eat in the morning.

At midday we managed to get Ahmed's mom to eat a little bit. We then waited for Ahmed to come out of the operating room. It was a little delayed and took longer than expected. At 4:30pm Ahmed was transferred to ICU.

After surgery, Ahmed started to bleed around his heart, and we started to pray. I  also asked my community in Colombia to pray for Ahmed. Thank you all for the support. We ask you to continue to pray for this situation. The bleeding in Ahmed is still abnormal, and he may have to go back into the Operating Room for another operation. 

Through Shevet, we have been part of an opportunity to share in the story of Ahmed's new heart. We pray God will watch over him during this very difficult time and bless the doctors with the wisdom they need to fix the problem. 

Ahmed is close to surgery

Posted on Mon, 05/16/2016 - 22:36 by Mateo Patiño Trujillo

Ahmed and his mom went with us this morning to the hospital for admission. His surgery is scheduled for tomorrow! In the morning, when we left Shevet to go to the hospital, Ahmed’s mom was nervous and had tears in her eyes. Finally, in God’s will, it is time for Ahmed's surgery. He has been waiting many longs weeks.

We got to Wolfson, and we had to wait for a while because the doctors and the nurses were busier than normal. Ahmed has demonstrate an amazing change; he would always cry and screem, but today Ahmed didn't cry! At the beginning he was just a little bit scare. The waiting wasn’t too long, and it was time for Ahmed's admission process to begin. The nurse took him and his mom to the secondary ICU, so Suhaill and I had to wait for them because we weren’t able to go in. We had lunch, and then all of us went to visit Ahmed and mom.

Today, Ahmed is staying at the hospital with the company of his mother, while waiting in God’s will for his surgery tomorrow. Hopefully, we’ll see him happier than he is now, after surgery. We lift up his life and we rest in God. 

Ahmed's surgery has been rescheduled for tomorrow, the 18th. He is doing well and happily played this morning. He cried as we left today, sad to see his friends leaving. But not to worry, sweet Ahmed, we will return tomorrow for your big day!