Aland's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq, Kurdistan

The Joy of the Lord

Posted on Thu, 02/09/2017 - 21:12 by Ruth Zellweger

On Monday evening our Shevet community came together with all of our families to celebrate the healed hearts of Aland and Yaser. It turned out to be a evening that left us with many beautiful memories. 

Before we entered into a time of sharing special memories with the families, we sang some worship songs. As during previous parties, it delighted my heart to see the pure joy that both father and son were radiating while participating wholeheartedly and unashamedly. When they had arrived they both did not seem very comfortable and happy. A huge transformation had taken place during their time with us.

Several of us then shared about our time with the two parting families, and then it was time to present them with their gifts. Aland welcomed each of his gifts with a big smile. He is such a sweet and affectionate boy. 

A slideshow of Aland's time with us completed this memorable evening. We could directly compare his condition from before and after his heart surgery. Instead of the weak, blue sick boy we had now this rosy and happy boy with us. 

Aland and his father returned Tuesday evening their family in Kurdistan and are now happily  reunited with them. While I was writing this I received a phone call from Aland's father who again expressed gratitude for the help received. On the first day of the year we met as strangers, and only five weeks later we are family. What a privilege to join our families on their journey towards a healed heart. May Aland and his father never forget the lovingkindness God has shown them.  I will miss their contagious joy and smiles, and am thankful for the time we could have together. 


Aland Going Home!

Posted on Mon, 02/06/2017 - 16:58 by Sean Perez
Today Aland, his father, Yusef, and I went to Wolfson hospital for what we were hoping would be Aland's last echo. We were a little late when we arrived, so they were waiting for us as soon as we entered the department. Dr. Alona immediately took us into the room with the ultrasound tech! So, up jumped Aland on the bed and they all began to smile and talk with him. The question remained: would this be his last echo?
They graciously expressed how joyful they were to have served Aland and that they were in eager anticipation to see some positive images so that Aland and his father could go back home to their family in Kurdistan. As the ultrasound tech gathered the images and Dr. Alona reviewed them, everybody then looked at each other and smiled - Dr. Alona gave us the thumbs up! Aland was in good condition and ready to be released. Aland and his father embraced one another and looked back at me, giving me two thumbs-up as their response.
The relationship between the hospital staff and the children is truly beautiful to me, as you watch them journey and build relationship together. They all treat the families so kindly, and Israel is truly a light to the nations to their surrounding neighbors. Children are being made well, and families are being made whole. Precious Aland and his father are going out with joy in their hearts, blessed by what God is doing here in Israel.   
We will celebrate Aland and his father with a farewell party! Look for updates on his departure coming soon! 

A Good Report

Posted on Mon, 01/30/2017 - 22:47 by Alexa Bigl

Today at Aland's echo, the doctors had good reports. Aland's heart looks good and he can continue his current medications. 

Aland's father asked them if he would be able to return home next week, but the cardiologist thinks perhaps he will need two more weeks. Aland is only two and a half weeks after his open heart surgery, so it's hard to tell with certainty how long he will need. Aland's father was disappointed, but soon bounced back when we promised to follow up at next week's echo if he could return home sooner. 
After the echo, we went down to the children's ward where we waited a few minutes for a nurse to be available to take out his chest tube site sutures. Aland was quite upset about having them removed, but luckily it is a quick process and Aland was smiling again soon. Eva headed out to get Aland and the other families at the hospital falafel and Aland was so excited, they are one of his favorite foods. It was a quick day at Wolfson, and we were soon back home playing in the living room. 

Good Echo for Aland

Posted on Mon, 01/23/2017 - 22:15 by Mattias Hojlund

Today was the day of the first follow up echo for Aland. Together with Yasser we went to the hospital this morning to see how things were progressing with his heart. 

Aland was not very happy about the doctors touching him and scanning him. He probably thinks they've done enough already. He made it though the examination with the help of Tarzan on the tv-screen in the echo room, but not without some tears.

Our experience of Aland's recovery so far has been that he is taking big big steps. He seems to have more energy, he is more motivated to start walking around, and last week when we had a farewell party with music and singing he danced till his legs were shaking of exhaustion. Such a beautiful sight and such a beautiful smile. Aland and his father definitely seems to enjoy singing and dancing. 

The message of the doctors were very much in line with our experience of the situation. The echo was positive and they are adjusting his medicine down a bit. Praise God and let's continue praying for Alands recovery and for him and his fathers time here. God is definitely at work in their lives, both physically and spiritually. 

Already Home

Posted on Tue, 01/17/2017 - 21:22 by Alexa Bigl

Yesterday we were happily surprised to hear Aland could potentially be discharged to our Jaffa home today. He was still in the secondary ICU, so it seemed uncertain if this would happen. 

Today, Sean and I arrived at Wolfson to see Aland was still in the secondary ICU. We soon found out he was going to be transferred to the ward and just a couple minutes later we wheeled him over. His echo had looked great earlier in the morning and the doctors were very happy with how is heart repair looks.
I've never experienced a child being discharged to our house the same day as being transferred to the ward, so I was skeptical about yesterday's information still holding true. But the doctors told us this was still the plan, Aland just need another assessment and to have his cardiac leads taken out by a cardiologist. 
We got to spend some time playing with Aland and his contagious smile blessed us all. We passed a ball back and forth and looked at some pictures together.  Aland has a good throw and we were soon laughing as the ball kept getting away from us. 
By 4pm Aland was already back with us in our Jaffa home! He and his dad are happy to be out of the hospital and are quickly making themselves comfortable at home. 

"Baxher Be" - Welcome!

Posted on Sun, 01/15/2017 - 22:44 by Sean Perez

Today Rebekah and I visited Aland at Wolfson hospital to see how his recovery process has been coming along. We initially weren't allowed to enter the ICU because of an emergency that was occuring in the unit. So we decided to call Aland's father, and we were greeted with the wonderful news that Aland was just moved to the Secondary ICU earlier this morning. As we entered the room, there was his father with this lovely grin and bright eyes, that just said "baxher be bo malakam,"  which means "you are welcome into my house" in Kurdish. In this case, he was welcoming us into their room, with open arms and an expression of love.

I initially met Aland's father in Erbil, Kurdistan before they came to Israel for Aland's surgery.  While there, we delivered him a breathing machine for Aland to use on his flight, since his doctor ordered him to be on oxygen while traveling to Israel. So, it was great to see a friendly face and exchange warm greetings with someone whom I would call "my friend." After we embraced each other with a hug and a kiss on the cheek (as is customary in this region), Aland's nurse came over and explained how Aland was doing really well in his recovery process. We were a little concerned at first, because as of yesterday Aland wasn't able to urinate or have a bowel movement. This can sometimes be common after heart procedures, as the body is beginning to adjust and react to it's new conditions while undergoing physical healing. But, we recieved really great news that Aland was able to urinate today and his nurse continued to state that everything else they are monitoring, such as his heart rate and vitals, are also in perfect ranges.  
So, we were blessed to discover that Aland is progressing along just fine and that he is eating really well. He was extubated on January 13th and is expected to be able to be upgraded to the ward in a couple days, if things continue to progress accordingly. Just like Aland's father said "baxher be" to us, we in return want to say "baxher be bo malakam" to him as well, when he is able to come home to our community in Jaffa. In all these things, we look to kindly express the love of our heavenly Father to him and his son.

Surgery Day!

Posted on Thu, 01/12/2017 - 22:53 by Co-authored

By Mattias Højlund:

Today Aland finally got his surgery. Rebekah and I left the Shevet house early this morning, after praying and giving the day to the Lord. 

Aland smiled as we entered the ward. He was clearly happy to see some familiar faces. Not long after we arrived, the nurse called Aland to go get his anesthesia.

We all went down there and waited for a while. In the beginning they would only let Aland and his father in to the waiting room, but after a while a friendly nurse called us in, and we got to spend a joyful time with Aland before he was put to sleep. 

When the father came out, he was sad and in distress. I went with him to the cafe area, and we had a cup of tea. He talked on the phone to his relatives in Kurdistan and we spent some time together in prayer for little Aland. After a while he calmed down and started smiling again. The doctors told us that it would be a long operation, and that we would probably have to wait until 2-3 pm, so it was good for him to get his mind on something else while waiting.

Continued by Rebekah Yang: 
Afterward, Aland's father came to the children's ward to chat with our other two Shevet families, Naz and Sonya, to get a clearer picture of what to expect for Aland post-surgery. I am very grateful that our mums have been able to share their experiences with Aland's father. All the first-hand details, understanding, and empathy from these mothers and their daughters' surgeries were very helpful to Aland's father. 
Around lunchtime, Mattias, Aland's father, and I went to the hospital cafeteria to have lunch. Then we came back to wait outside the corridor of the ICU. Just after 2pm, we saw surgeons passing us and they mentioned to us that Aland has finished his heart surgery and is on his way to the ICU.
It was such an emotional moment to see how Aland's father was so happy and even raised his hands to praise God, saying,"spas bo Hxua," which means "thanks be to God," in Kurdish. Yes, hallelujah! Our hearts are rejoicing with him as well.
When Aland was settled inside the ICU, we were allowed to go in to see our precious Aland. Seeing how his lips and fingernails had turned to a red and pink color (due to proper oxygen circulation), l could only praise God for this miracle. Dr. Sasson, one of the main surgeons, said it was a successful, full repair operation.
At the moment, he is on a ventilation machine to help him breathe. He also has central lines and a chest tube in place. According to the medical staff, Aland is currently sedated, and it may take one or two days before he can be extubated.
Please lift up Aland in your prayers. May God's healing continue to work in our sweet Aland's heart. In Messiah's name I pray, amen!!

Surgery Postponed

Posted on Mon, 01/09/2017 - 20:10 by Mattias Hojlund

Early this morning Ruth and I went to the hospital. Aland was scheduled to have his surgery, and we were very exited. Before we left the Shevet house we prayed for Aland and for the doctors that was going to preform the surgery. It was a beautiful morning, and relieving to surrender the day in Gods hands. 

Aland and his father were still asleep when we arrived at the hospital so we sat down in the ward and waited for the nurse. She came up to us and said that the surgery had been postponed.

The reason for this was construction work at the hospital. They're building a new children's ward and the ICU is under construction. This made it impossible for Aland to have his surgery, because there wouldn't be a place for him to stay afterwards. This was disappointing news, as we were really hoping for Aland to have his surgery. Aland and his dad weren't too upset, but it's hard not knowing what's going to happen. The doctors say that it's hopefully going to be this week, maybe even tomorrow, but they can't say for sure. It's in Gods hands, and we trust that his will will be done. 

I spent some time with Aland and his father afterwards and they're still in a good spirit. We hope and pray for good news tomorrow, and trust that God is bigger than construction work at the hospital. 

Admitted for Surgery Tomorrow

Posted on Sun, 01/08/2017 - 22:29 by Rebekah Yang

Tomorrow Aland is scheduled for surgery! Before we took him to the hospital to be admitted, we had a blessed time of worship and prayer. Afterward, all of us got together to lift up Aland and his dad to our Messiah's mighty hands. Our guest, Abraham, prayed in Bahadini, one of the main dialects of Kurdish, which was a blessing to father and son. After that we sang "This is the Day" in order to send them out to the hospital with love and support from our community. It is always so amazing to see this special moment, when all of us are really tight together as God's body of believers. Such a unique and wonderful picture, indeed.

At the hospital, we spent quite some time of waiting in the children's ward first. When it was noontime, all of sudden the admission procedure sped up. Hallelujah praise God! We finished all of the necessary check-ups (vital signs, blood test, etc).
Father Aland went with Sarah and Abraham for lunch in the hospital cafeteria and I brought some other food to be enjoyed with all of our families in the children's ward. 
Later on, the echo department called Aland for another echo before tomorrow's surgery. It took both Drs. Sagi and Tamir quite a while to perform the echo exam because they were teaching and training a new doctor at the same time. Our poor Aland shed lots of tears while he had his echo done.
Eventually, when we finished everything, I took both of them for a little walk through the hospital shopping mall. In the end, Aland got a little car and a few other things as gifts from my friends.
When we re-entered the hospital building, Aland's father saw the flag of Israel. He was so excited. He rushed forward to lift up the flag and stand still with his son in order to pay respect as well as to take a good photo. Due to Aland's father serving in the Kurdish Peshmerga (military), it was very significant for him to respect a national flag like this.
Inside my heart I was praying when we walked back to ward for Aland and his father. May tomorrow be a day of miracles, and God's grace to be revealed. Let's join our hands to pray for Aland's new life tomorrow. May Yeshua's name be glorified, Amen!!

Aland in the CT

Posted on Thu, 01/05/2017 - 23:38 by Mattias Hojlund

Today Aland finally got his CT scan! After a failed attempt this past Tuesday, we returned to Wolfson early this morning to give it another try. The first time, the doctors thought they could do it without anesthesia, but it was an overwhelming experience to little Aland, and he couldn't lie still. 

Aland is definitely settling in here at Shevet Achim and especially yesterday he had a great trip to the beach, were we fed the pigeons and played soccer. His condition is a big challenge to him, and sometimes it makes him a bit shy.  But the smiles and laughter are really starting to break though! 

Today at the hospital he got the anesthesia almost as soon as we entered the children's ward. He was distressed, and so was his father. After the CT scan, his dad waited at the side of the bed, until he woke up again. It was all quite overwhelming to Aland, but he did really well!

When we came back to the ward, he was finally allowed to eat, and the smiles and laughter returned. After some time of waiting Aland was discharged for the day, and he could eat lunch at the Shevet house with the rest of the group. We're thankful for everything God has done in Aland's life so far, and we ask you to join us in praying for his process further on.