Anas's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Little Friend

Posted on Wed, 08/31/2016 - 21:51 by Sophie

When we got Anas' house, he and his younger brother were very shy and kept hiding. Nothing helped, even the family trying to force them to come out. Seconds later, they ran away again. So I decided to stay close to them. A very short time later we were becoming friends again, and we enjoyed painting together.

Anas likes the songs from Shevet so much, when he saw the guitar he could not wait. So many memories came back! Soon, we went to the special room prepared for us.

We gathered around table, sang some songs to praise God, and then enjoyed the delicious cake!

Thanks to God we had a wonderful time together. May God's name be glorified among us!


A Joyful Visit

Posted on Tue, 02/16/2016 - 14:22 by Ruth Zellweger

A few days after Anas and his mother returned to their home in Kurdistan, Agnes, Jonathan and I had the privilege to visit them. It was such a lovely time. When we arrived, we were welcomed warmly by the entire family, who had already prepared a feast for us. 

It was so nice getting to know the whole family. Anas has four siblings: two older brothers, an older sister and a younger brother. It is obvious how much they love each other and especially Anas. After the meal Anas went off with his siblings and it took a while until I found out where he had gone to. It seems that the family's car is one of their favorite places to spend time in. 

In the meantime I enjoyed talking to Anas's older brother, who speaks English well and taught Agnes and myself some new Kurdish words. Due to the political circumstances in the country and strikes by the governmental employees, most schools have been closed this past month. There is only one school in their neighborhood that is still operating, which is the school Anas's siblings are attending. However, on the day of our visit they all skipped school to not miss out on our fellowship. 


The family invited us several times to stay the night, but we had to decline due to our tight schedule. A week is just not long enough to see all the families that are dear to us. They not only open their homes to us, but also their hearts. After having lived with us for several months, and going through highs and lows, through joy, tears and laughter. 

When we bid farewell to the family I could not see Anas. His family led us to their car, where I once again saw little friend. Tired from the day's activities he peacefully slept in the car. He is such a precious child, a gift from God. Knowing him has made my life richer. 

I feel so blessed having been able to visit Anas after his heart surgery and seeing him in his natural environment. The transformation from the once so blue boy into this beautiful chubby child with the healthy pink skin tone is something we cannot take for granted. To God be the glory!

All the Way Home!

Posted on Sun, 02/07/2016 - 21:26 by Co-authored
Anas and his mother, on the airplane to Kurdistan
Miriam writes:
We said goodbye to our precious friend Anas and his mother, as they went home to Kurdistan. I have had the privilege to follow Anas during his whole journey here in Israel. I have many beautiful memories from this time.
When he first came, Anas immediately captured our hearts with his charming personality. He soon became friends with all our volunteers and brightened our days with his sunny smile. I accompanied Anas to the hospital for his first visit there after arriving. That day I found out that one thing he likes very much is to watch cartoons. After complaining during all the assesments and test, he was completely calm during the echocardiogram, totally absorbed in a movie.
After this it took some weeks before Anas had his surgery. It was hard for his mother to wait, but she showed great patience. She clearly loves her son very much and puts all her effort into caring for him. On the surgery day I spent the day at the hospital. Waiting together with Anas's mother for the surgery to be done, I got to know her a little more. She is a lovely and warm person who cares for everyone around her. Although I don't understand much Kurdish, she constantly kept talking to me, and thanks to this I learned many new words. 
After the surgery it was wonderful to see how Anas's previously blue lips and fingers changed to beautiful pink. It was also obvious how Anas got more energy as he recovered. When he came home to Jerusalem he enjoyed playing outdoors on the swing or kicking a ball. During the hospital visits for check-ups he walked fast in the long corridors without getting tired. His vocabulary improved as well, and he seemed to be very happy. 
Anas loves music. He enjoyed when we were singing together at lunchtime, as well as listening to Kurdish music on his mother's tablet. One day while he was in the children's ward, I couldn't find him when I came to vist. I finally discovered him in the playroom, where one of the staff was playing drums with him. He seemed to like this very much. When it was time to leave the hospital a few days later, he was very happy on the way home, singing along to the music in the car.  
After his final echo last Monday we had a farewell party in the evening. We had tea and cookies and sang happy songs. Then we shared with Anas and his mother from our experience of their time here. Anas's mother would hardly let us speak as she over and over again expressed her gratitude. Before they left, she made sure to take lots of pictures with the Shevet volunteers.
One special detail about Anas's departure is that he was accompanied by some of our volunteers! Our coworkers Ruth and Agnes were able to follow them all the way to Kurdistan. We are so grateful to our loving Father for Anas's beautiful healing! Our community will miss him and his mother very much, but we are happy that they now have returned to their family.
Ruth writes:

Agnes and I had the privilege of accompanying Anas and his mother to Jordan. The border crossing from Israel into Jordan went smoothly, which is not always a given. We took a taxi from the border to Amman; Anas and I used that time to catch up with our sleep. Once we were in Amman, we were taken in by a lovely local couple, Meshal and Thalia, who hosted us for the afternoon and evening. Thalia lovingly prepared a delicious meal, which we all enjoyed together. Anas liked it very much - he even asked for seconds and thirds!

The time passed by quickly, and Meshal took us to the airport where we met up with Jonathan, who was traveling with all of us to Kurdistan. Anas was very excited, but as soon as the airplane had taken off, he fell asleep. His mother, on the other hand, was observing everything that was going on. She was looking forward to seeing her husband, who had already left their hometown in the afternoon to be at the airport in time. Once we arrived at the airport, everything went very smoothly and within half an hour Anas and his mother were reunited with their father and husband. We are hoping to visit the family soon in their home, to celebrate with them Anas' healed heart. 


Four Magic Words

Posted on Mon, 02/01/2016 - 17:32 by Alexa Bigl

Anas had his final echo today!

Planning is in motion for Anas to return home to Kurdistan tomorrow. We have known for quite some time that this could be Anas' final echo, but we didn't want to celebrate too early in case there were changes.

Today, we could let our joy fully blossom once Dr. Alona said the magic words "you can go home"! Those four words were beauty to our ears. Anas and his mother have been patiently waiting a very long time for his repaired heart to be fully healed, and we praise God He has seen that come to fruition today!

As Anas joyfully walked around the shops at the hospital, Coert was on point when he remarked how much we will miss young Anas.

He is such a happy and sweet boy, although this will make goodbye harder it also makes his good health report even more meaningful!

Someone Would Rather Have Lunch

Posted on Thu, 01/28/2016 - 21:42 by Martha and Louisa

On this nice sunny day we drove with a very happy Anas to the hospital. He was laughing and having fun with us on the way there, and he was in a very good mood.

Upon arrival, Anas already knew the way to the echocardiogram room (but he seems to prefer the way to the cafeteria!). During the echocardiogram, Anas was so patient and relaxed. Praise God that the results were good! Everything is okay with his heart and there is no fluid still. To make sure that everything was good with his heartbeat, Anas had an ECG.

The results for this test were also good! Therefore, we are still counting on that he will probably have his final echo on Monday - and then he can go home to Kurdistan!

The test results weren’t the only evidence that Anas was feeling better, you can see that he is really in a better condition because he was running through the hospital’s hallways! Everyone who has gotten the chance to know Anas is also thrilled to celebrate with him as he is someone very easy to fall in love with!

A Little More Medicine

Posted on Mon, 01/25/2016 - 19:49 by Melanie Burciaga

On this rainy, snowy morning, we traveled to the hospital with Anas and his mother so that he could get another follow-up echocardiogram. We all happily played in his beautiful home outside the doctor's office while we waited for the doctors. 

The results of the echocardiogram were good! No sign of fluid in his lungs, and although he still needs a little bit of medication, the amount he needs is decreasing. This is great news, as this means he and his mother can still plan on heading home next week!
After his test, we had a meal (more or less) together. Anas wasn't allowed to eat inside the cafeteria, but that didn't stop him from joyfully downing his delicious hot food with his mother. Anas remained in a good mood as we all patiently waited outside the intensive care unit before we left for home. 

Looking Good!

Posted on Thu, 01/21/2016 - 23:57 by Miriam Svensson
Anas and his mother had to get up very early this morning to go with today's hospital crew for another echocardiogram. The result was good today as well, and the doctor was able to decrease the medicines even more.
After the echo we had some hours of waiting before we could go home. We had lunch together and then explored the shopping area connected to the hospital. Anas was in a very good mood the whole day, laughing and happily walking around in the corridors. The weather was nice and sunny, so in the afternoon we spent some time sitting on the grass outside.
When we finally got in the car to go back, Anas quickly fell asleep, tired after a long day. We praise the Lord for good results and for this beautiful day!

Nearing the Finish Line

Posted on Mon, 01/18/2016 - 21:36 by Miriam Svensson
A new week and a new hospital visit for Anas. He and his mother went there this morning, together with Zanyar and his father, who also had an appointment. In the waiting room at the echo department Anas enjoyed sitting in the window, looking at the trees and the cars outside.
The outcome of today's echo was good - the doctor didn't find any fluid left around Anas's heart. She told us to reduce the dose of one of the medicines and to come back on Thursday. Anas's mother asked again when they will be able to go home to Kurdistan, and this time the doctor had an answer for her. Anas has to come to the hospital a few more times while the medication is slowly lowered. If everything continues to look fine he can be discharged two weeks from today. We thank our heavenly Father for these good news!  
 "Every good and perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, 
who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

The Good and the Fluid

Posted on Mon, 01/11/2016 - 22:47 by Miriam Svensson

Today, Anas and his mother went back to the hospital for a follow-up echocardiogram. I had the privilege to accompany them there. We first went to the children’s ward where one of the nurses took a blood test. Anas did not like this, but as soon as it was done he became his normal, sunny self again.

While we waited for the echo, Anas had some bread to eat since he hadn't had very much breakfast. He also had time to pose for some pictures before we were called into the echo room. 

The doctor explainedthe echo showed a very good result of the operation. However, there was a small amount of fluid around the heart. Due to this, Anas will need some increase in his medication for a while. He should also come back for another echo after three days. Anas' mother was clearly disappointed the doctor couldn't say for sure when he will be ready to go back to Kurdistan.

Before we could go home we went to the ward again where the nurse took out the stitches Anas had from the chest tubes. She also told us the result of the blood test was good. Then at last the uncomfortable things of this long day were over.

Please join us in praying for the continued healing of Anas' heart. Pray also for endurance for his lovely mother.

Home to Jerusalem

Posted on Sun, 01/10/2016 - 11:50 by Miriam Svensson

This past Friday it was finally time for Anas to come home from the hospital.

The external pacemaker had been removed two days earlier and his heart is working with a normal rhythm. The last echo showed a decrease in the fluid and he no longer needs the special diet. 

Anas’ mother told me they had been in the hospital for 19 days, and they both seemed very happy to leave. In the car on the way back, Anas listened to music and sang along to it. Once in a while he shouted "yeah!" and Sophie and I answered the same way.

Praise the Lord for Anas' improvement! We are all happy to have him and his mother back with our community in Jerusalem.