Anes's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Racing Toward a New Heart

Posted on Sun, 12/29/2013 - 20:30 by Rahel Eschler

After a long wait for the liberating phone call to confirm Anes’ admission for surgery, we finally got the go-ahead this morning. With a joyful heart we shared the good news to the overwhelmed mother, who could hardly believe her luck. Anes wasn’t as convinced as his mother about the trip to the hospital, though, and he loudly proclaimed his opinion. Once in the car, however, his protesting weakened, and he glided into the peaceful sleep of a child. As soon as we arrived in Tel Aviv, his mother carried him in her arms to the cardiac children ward before he knew what was going on. 

He was still drowsy when we introduced him to the nurses. The first examinations showed us what a caring and gifted storyteller his mother is. She succeeded in turning his bad mood into attentive listening. When the doctor was putting in the venous cannula for a blood examination, however, his shy smile definitely disappeared.

But he successfully passed this unpleasant experience. 

While I was occupied with another child from Shevet Achim, Anes and his mum started to explore the ward. His favorite discovery was a scale by the nurse’s office. He proudly measured himself several times.

Then we entered their room together, which will be their new home for the next several days. While Anes made himself comfortable in his new bed, we made sure the mother had no more concerns or questions. Then we headed homewards with a clean conscience, knowing Anes and his mum are in good and caring hands. We wished them both all the best for the surgery tomorrow, and they waved us good bye with a Kurdish “Xwah’ afiz.” Pray with us for a successful, life-saving surgery for our precious Anes tomorrow. We thank the Lord for this wonderful day.              

A Peaceful First Assessment

Posted on Mon, 12/23/2013 - 21:53 by Philip Rasmussen

It was a great joy to head towards Tel Aviv with a van full of families. After many months of not enough children at the Shevet base due to visa problems, our house is now again stretched to its limits. Today Anes was scheduled for his initial assessment at Wolfson Medical Center. He surprised me with his calm, positive attitude as he was subjected to different medical tests.

Anes is only three years old, but he chose to be cooperative instead of practicing his independence. He didn’t even start crying during his blood test – he fought against the tears almost as if he knew it wasn't worth it to cry for such a short time. 

In the echo room, his calm behavior continued, and the echo-technician was able to get some fine screenings. His mother entertained him with pictures from her cell-phone during the echo. She kept asking him different questions, and Anes listened carefully and replied with long answers. 

The cardiologist was very satisfied with the results. She said Anes’ heart defect is a classic case of Tetralogy of Fallot, which means he can hopefully undergo a full heart repair. He doesn’t need any pre-operation procedures, so his next step appears to be his surgery.

We are looking forward to spending time with Anes and getting to know him and his mother here at our base in Jerusalem. It is still uncertain when Anes will be called in for surgery, so please pray with us that the family will stay patient and trust the good things God has in store for them.

Little Anas Reaches Jerusalem

Posted on Sun, 12/22/2013 - 22:51 by MadelynMiles

Anes and his mother landed in Amman, Jordan on Saturday and were already waiting for us in the airport’s Starbucks when we arrived to pick them up. I was immediately impressed with Anes’ mother, as I discovered she speaks Arabic as well as her native Kurdish—uncommon for families coming to Shevet. As we made our way out to the van, it became obvious she was in completely unfamiliar surroundings but was soaking it all in and learning fast. It may have been her first time riding in a vehicle, as I had to teach her how to use a seat belt, and even then she grabbed from the middle seat while sitting in the back seat for the belt. She listened carefully to everything I said, however, and was a fast learner. 

I was also impressed by her international sim card, which allowed her to communicate with her family back home even while in Jordan.  She gave me the phone at one point, and I spoke to her husband in Kurdish briefly. Then he handed off the phone to a relative, who spoke to me in English. My heart sank as I heard him say, “Please take care of them. They don’t know anything. Please take care of them.” All of our Kurdish families overcome a huge obstacle before ever reaching the operating room: they must leave the only home they’ve ever known, travel to a foreign country, and put their trust in total strangers to keep them safe.  I can only imagine how hard this is. 

The border crossing to Israel took longer than usual, but Anes and his mother were incredibly patient through all of it. Anes barely fussed at all, and when his mother went into a back room for questions, he looked up at me with puppy-dog eyes, and said, “Dike’m kwa?” which means, “where is my mother?” He never cried, but gently repeated this question despite my answers. 

Anes and his mother are now safely in Jerusalem at the Shevet house, and will have their first hospital visit in Israel tomorrow, Lord willing

Soon to Arrive

Posted on Mon, 11/25/2013 - 11:58 by Kelsey Cannon

Three-year-old Anes possesses a startling total of five defects in his tiny heart. His defects are as follows: a malformation of the pulmonary valve, a hole between the two lower chambers of the heart (known as a ventricular septal defect or VSD), an overriding aorta, which places the artery normally above the left ventricle above the VSD, a hypertrophied or thickened wall of the right ventricle, and a patent foramen ovale, which denotes a small hole between the two upper chambers of the heart. While all of the anatomical names are quite a bit to take in, Anes’ condition can be somewhat simplified, as the first four defects listed above can be nested under the term ‘Tetralogy of Fallot’ or TOF. As surgical treatment is still unavailable for Anes’ complex heart in his home country of northern Iraq, his family has made the courageous decision to shun the historical enmity between their country and Israel and instead save this Anes’ life by seeking treatment for him in the hospitals of Israel. Lord willing, Anes will arrive in Israel to begin his journey to a new heart before the end of this year.