Ahmed's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Ahmed Returns to His Family

Posted on Sun, 07/12/2015 - 21:48 by Sophie H.

When we first met this newborn baby in Kurdistan, Ahmed was so tiny in his beloved mother's arm. He was sleeping almost the whole time, but he opened his eyes for just a second. It was so sweet to watch him.

Ahmed’s case was an emergency, but God put all things together and opened the door for this precious life within one week. Normally it takes up to two months for the visa application, but in God's hands everything is possible. Looking back, I was amazed by God’s work .

When Ruth and I came back from Kurdistan, Ahmed already had his surgery and was recovering at Prophets Street. Based off of the two echocardiograms post-operation, clearly he was ready to be discharged.

To initially celebrate this good news, some of our staff went to the beach together with Ahmed and his grandmother. Can you imagine? This is the best moment for them. When they came back, they showed me all the pictures they took, they wanted to share this special moment with me. l could tell how happy they were and how wonderful the beach was for them.

On his last evening, we had a farewell party for Ahmed. First we sang some worship songs and after we served people with chocolate cake and tea. We presented gifts to them, and the last part was watching “Ahmed’s New Heart" video. The final part of the party, we made a video call to Ahmed’s family.

They left early the next morning. I woke up around 6:30 A.M. and ran to their room at once. I just wanted to spend the last bit of limited time with them before they returned home. After half an hour, it was time to say ‘goodbye’ to them. We gathered together in the front yard to pray and send them on their way.

Thanks to God for the smooth trip, now they are back in Kurdistan with their family!


The Great Power of God

Posted on Thu, 07/09/2015 - 23:46 by Anna Ivanova

How amazing it is to see God’s grace in little Ahmed's life. Today we went to the hospital to get his last echo, and we have great news – Ahmed is officially discharged and may go back home again! This little boy has been here in Israel for a month now, first having the surgery and then recovering from it.

The doctors gave us more information though – Ahmed does not need to take any mediation with him back home! This is amazing news, praise God for His mighty work.

After the hospital visit we celebrated by going to the beach and enjoying the sunny day outside, and we will continue the celebration tomorrow evening at his farewell party.

Million Dollar Echo

Posted on Thu, 07/02/2015 - 00:45 by Austin Cords

Today Ahmed received a routine echocardiogram to determine how well the heart is healing and determine if any change in medication or the need for another adjustment. After waiting quite some time for the nurse to be available to conduct the echo, we were finally escorted into the room and the noninvasive procedure began. Normally after the necessary images are taken the monitors are taken off and the doctor comes in a reviews the images. Today however it seemed to be quite the involved process and we were told to wait for the doctor and the monitors were left on. This lead to me becoming a little bit uneasy as I wondered if the nurse was wanting a second review of a certain part of the heart. I waited and prayed becoming calmed and, as patiently as I could, waited for the results.

The nurse reviewed the images with the doctor and after exchanging a few words he said it was a ‘million dollar echo’. One million dollars for an echo?? Does he need another surgery? My mind screamed, but that was not the case. The echo simply showed his heart is doing extremely well and he is recovering quickly.

After giving the results, the doctor had him taken off the medication he was taking, scheduled him for his last echo, and sent him to get the sutures removed. So much good news and progress given in a day.

Sometimes a day can be frustrating in the moment with having to wait a long time for the echo or coordinating and communicating with others that we forget God’s evident goodness. An attitude of grateful expectation can allow others to be encouraged and even make oneself realize the blessings God has provided. It took me during the ride home to reflect and realize that; though everything was accomplished, the smile on my face could’ve come much sooner.


Ahmed Released From Hospital

Posted on Tue, 06/23/2015 - 11:30 by Maureen Grimshaw

Today Ahmed was released from Wolfson Hospital after his heart surgery, and as you can see from the photographs, he is looking very relaxed and recovering well.

The doctors are pleased with his progress and are requesting he return a week today Monday 29th June for an EKO test. He will be taking medication twice daily/every day.  

Ahmed's grandmother was very happy with the way everything progressed for her grandson and will be staying with him at Shevet Achim. She soon settled in with the other parents who gave her a warm welcome to the house.


Good News for Ahmed!

Posted on Wed, 06/17/2015 - 22:06 by Rebakah Yang

When I arrived at Wolfson hospital around noon time, I went to the ICU to check on our little Ahmed and his grandma.  I found out the wonderful news from ICU physician, Dr. Cohen, that our little Ahmed did have his heart fully repaired in the operation last Thursday. It was indeed very useful information as well as clarification from some confusion we had regarding Ahmed's medical care. Hallelujah, praise God!! Further good news was that I witnessed his grandma giving Ahmed his first milk feeding! He did very well and drank quite a bit. What an exciting and touching moment, really.

Just when I was about to leave hospital, an ICU nurse mentioned to me that due to his condition improving quite a bit, they are planning to transfer him to Secondary ICU this afternoon. On my way back to Jerusalem, my heart was full of joy and singing: ”I will praise you Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O most High.” (Psalm 9:1-2)    



Healing with Gusto

Posted on Wed, 06/17/2015 - 11:50 by Jesse Tilman

It was wonderful seeing Ahmed again because of how well he is doing. He was extubated yesterday, is awake, and moving around with gusto!

His grandmother is much more at ease as she sees visible signs of his recovery. Of course she is worried about him being cold and not eating normally yet, along with seeing all the wires and tubes connected to him. However, she showed remarkable respect for the hospital methods and would ask before doing so much as moving Ahmed's blanket. A nurse told us that Ahmed will probably be moved out of the ICU today! Thank God for His care for this little one.

Every Breath He Takes

Posted on Sun, 06/14/2015 - 21:47 by Judith Schmidt

Today as we arrived at Wolfson Hospital, I found Ahmed’s grandmother in the children’s ward. She was more than happy to see us and greeted me with hugs and kisses.  As she joined the families for lunch, I went to have a look at little Ahmed.

As Jesse and I went into the ICU, we found the doctors and nurses preparing Ahmed to have his chest closed. Dr. Houri said that they are happy with Ahmed’s progress but we will have to take it step by step. They wanted to see how he is doing after they closed his chest. We tried to give his grandma a break for a couple of minutes and took her to the beach. She enjoyed it,but couldn't get little Ahmed out of her head.

As we came back to the Hospital, Ahmed had just been rolled into the ICU again. A doctor was checking his vital signs. The doctors were happy with how he was doing and his grandma was happy to be at his side again, watching every breath he takes.

We pray that his healing will continue like this and that we will see him extubated and moved to the secondary ICU soon.

God's Merciful Hands

Posted on Thu, 06/11/2015 - 10:32 by Rebekah Yang

When I was told that little Ahmed was being sent to the operation room unexpectedly on Thursday afternoon, my heart skipped a beat. None of us were at the hospital, and the first thought that came to mind was, “What’s happening with Ahmed's heart situation? How is his grandma going to cope with this difficult time on her own?”

As soon as I was able, I rushed to Wolfson hospital. When I arrived, I went into the ICU to try to find out answers to all my questions; however, everything was so busy in there that I just checked little Ahmed briefly and left to find Ahmed’s grandma. I found her just coming out from playground connected to the children's ward. I knew I could find her there, using the internet to contact her family back home in Iraq. Right away I gave her a big hug, kissed her cheek, and held her hands. I saw fear on her face and the desire for family or friends to stand beside her. Thank God for allowing me to be like family, standing beside Ahmed and his grandma at this time. I brought her to the hospital food court to eat some before we headed back to ICU again.

During this second visit to ICU, Ahmed's grandmother began to relax and started feeling tired, so I asked her to rest on a chair outside of ICU while I talked to the doctor for a few minutes. Little Ahmed’s lung had collapsed at midnight Wednesday, while he was still in Secondary ICU. Therefore, the medical teams had decided to do emergency surgery for Ahmed in order to rescue his life.

When I left, he was still intubated, on oxygen, and being monitored. His chest was also still open, in order to reduce lung pressure. He was still in critical condition, but praise God, the ICU team had everything under control!

Having understood Ahmed's current situation, I tried my best to help his grandmother understand. By the grace of God, I was able to help her understand, and she relaxed completely. At the end of that short visit, Ahmed's grandmother was kindly provided a bed to sleep on in the children's ward. Thank you Lord for your mercy and love for little Ahmed and his grandma.

Miracles in Waiting

Posted on Tue, 06/09/2015 - 22:40 by Brian Mace

Ahmed made it safely and miraculously into Israel on Sunday and was taken directly to the ICU upon his arrival. Whilst at Wolfson hospital today, I was blessed to find little Ahmed in secondary ICU and to be able to speak to a doctor and nurse in ICU about him. He is where he is under observation, waiting for surgery. However, no date has been set yet for his surgery.

Uniting Brothers for Life

Posted on Sun, 06/07/2015 - 21:37 by Ruth Zellweger

"Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity" (Psalm 133). Seldom during my time with Shevet Achim have I been able to witness closer the living out of that verse than with little baby Ahmed.

Ahmed was born with a life-threatening congenital heart defect called dextro-transposition of the great arteries. I met him for the first time on our first day in Kurdistan. We had come to the office of Kurdistan Save the Children (KSC), our partners in the country. While we were looking for children to invite for the upcoming heart screening, Ahmed's mother and grandmother came in with the newborn baby. They came to register Ahmed, so that they would be eligible for financial help. We invited them for the screening the following week and they were among the first families to be seen by our American friend and cardiologist Dr. Kirk Miloan. He suggested urgent surgical repair outside the country. When Dr. Tamir at Wolfson Hospital in Tel Aviv reviewed his report, he told us to bring Ahmed as soon as possible, within the next week or two. This kicked off a very busy week,that involved many different parties in three countries, working many hours to achieve one goal: Bringing Ahmed to Israel for life-saving heart surgery before it is too late.

From experience we knew that it usually takes several weeks for a visa to be approved and that it would require a miracle to bring Ahmed in time. And our faithful God did just that by providing the right contacts, and putting it on people's heart to intercede for baby Ahmed before God and the Israeli Ministry of Interior. This past Friday, just before the start of Shabbat in Israel, we received word that an emergency visa was approved for Ahmed. But because the family had to cross from Jordan into Israel, a Jordanian visa was also required. God had to increase our faith, as we had to get permission for that on exactly the two days of the week when governmental offices in Jordan are closed. Nevertheless, again God blessed us with the right contacts and favor with the authorities. It took many emails and phone calls for Jonathan to obtain verbal permission for Ahmed to enter Jordan.

Early this morning, baby Ahmed and his grandmother started on their great adventure. But even with the emergency visa for Israel and the verbal permission to enter Jordan it was not sure if the airline would let Ahmed fly on the plane. They have children refused before. And again, we had the right contact. Our friend, Dr. Hiwa, came with us to the airport as an advocate for Ahmed. We were met by Ahmed, his mother and grandmother. The mother looked very sad and forlorn, as the moment had come that she had to say goodbye to her beloved son. It had been already decided a few weeks earlier by the family that it would be best if Ahmed's grandmother was traveling with him. After a last kiss, she left the airport, entrusting her precious baby into the hands of his grandmother, airport officials, Shevet Achim and Israeli doctors.

Dr. Hiwa found favor with the man in charge from the airline and got the permission for Ahmed to fly, despite his age, heart defect and missing printed Jordanian visa. We accompanied Ahmed and his grandmother to the passport control and bid farewell. A few hours later we received the joyful news that Ahmed had been allowed into Jordan. Now, he and his grandmother have arrived safely in Israel. Ahmed will go straight to the Wolfson Hospital for observation and close monitoring. Our Jewish friends there are investing so much of their time, love and skills into the lives of children like Ahmed. We are expecting heart surgery for Ahmed in the near future.

How beautiful to see so many people coming together to save one life. One might ask if one little baby from Kurdistan is worth the time, effort, and cost. Our friends and partners definitely will say YES, and their personal investment proves that.

We are looking forward to see what God will continue to do in Ahmed's life. To Him be the glory!