Aram's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Diagnosis Confirmed

Posted on Wed, 03/05/2014 - 22:13 by Cassie Elliott

We left Shevet this morning on the way to Wolfson Hospital to visit little Aram. Upon arrival, we were told Aram does indeed have hydrocephalus, a possibility mentioned in yesterday’s blog post. Aram was discharged today, as the medical staff has no further tests they want to run for now. The neurologist would like to further examine the tests Aram has already had and then start planning on how to proceed with treatment.

Despite the discouraging prognosis, we were all glad Aram was able to come back to Shevet today. I spent most of my time in the hospital with the girls during our staff’s visit to Rozhgar, but on the way home to Shevet I had some bonding time with Aram. I was touched by his sweet smile, and I spent some time praying for him as I held his little foot during the drive. 

Thank you for your continued intercession for Aram. I was encouraged today to see how the hospital and Shevet staff care for him, showing some of the love I know the Lord has for him.

Neurological Assessments

Posted on Tue, 03/04/2014 - 20:55 by Ruth Zellweger

Today Aad, Shannon, and I went to Wolfson Hospital to pick up Aram and his mother after the CT scan of Aram’s head earlier this morning. When I walked into the nurse’s station, however, the head nurse looked surprised and told us Aram would not be cleared to return with us today. The doctors had evaluated the CT scan and found results leading them to believe Aram may have hydrocephalus.

Hydrocephalus is a medical condition where the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord is unable to drain from the brain. It then pools, causing a backup of fluid in the skull. If left untreated, hydrocephalus can lead to brain damage, a loss in mental and physical abilities, and even death. With early diagnosis and timely treatment, however, most children recover successfully. Aram needs an additional examination by a neurologist before further steps are taken.

We pray for wisdom for the doctors as they determine how to treat Aram in the best possible way. Thank you for interceding with us. 

Fearfully and Beautifully Made

Posted on Mon, 03/03/2014 - 22:36 by Rahel Eschler

This morning we were asked by the nurse staff to come in to Wolfson hospital as soon as possible. They were expecting a large group of newly-arrived children with heart defects to be screened, and Aram was going to be one of them. So we packed our little friend Aram and his mother into our van and rolled towards Tel Aviv for his first appointment in the cardiac children ward. I was expecting a lot of loud protesting from Aram as he was placed in his car seat (which he doesn’t like to be put in), but I was instead pleasantly surprised. He took it like a big boy with a shy smile on his lips.

Aram, with his beautiful looks, has captured my heart in no time.

He’s a small, fragile kid with a huge need for comfort and security. The only place where he is calm is the protecting arms of his mother. 

It was a tough day for Aram. He would scream whenever the hospital staff tried to do any of the necessary assessments. We were given a bed for Aram and his mother in the ward, and when Aram was crying out his soul while the nurse took his blood pressure, a lady came up to us and brought Aram a heart-shaped balloon. It was a sweet gesture, but it couldn’t capture Aram’s attention. The only thing that would calm him down was his mother’s breast.

After several attempts, the electrocardiogram and blood sample were finally taken. For the most important examination, the heart echo, Aram had to take sleeping medicine in order to keep still. After taking the medicine, Aram started nodding off in his mother’s arms. That’s when the doctor attempted to perform the echo, but Aram wasn’t giving in easily to sleep. He defended himself with all his strength against the cold ultrasound head on his warm chest. So another half hour of waiting took place until the medicine reached its full effectiveness. Nothing was able to disturb Aram’s deep dreams anymore, and Dr. Alona could analyze the condition of Aram’s heart without a ruffle.

She reported no full repair of Aram’s heart defect is possible due to his age. It saddened me to realize he could have been fully healed if he had only received the medical care he needed earlier in his life. But the good news is Aram’s oxygen level, which is hovering around 70% right now, can be increased through surgery.

Right at the end of the hour-long procedure, Aram woke up, searching for the comforting physical closeness of his mother.

Due to Aram’s delayed development, Dr. Alona wants to take a CT scan of his brain, which will be performed tomorrow morning. Aram’s blood test also showed he is not drinking well enough, so he will get some extra fluid over the IV line tonight as well. Aram’s mother was strong when we shared with her they would need to unexpectedly stay at the hospital tonight. 

Before we left them both behind at the hospital, we brought Aram his favorite food, vanilla pudding. Then we said good bye to them with hugs and kisses. With a longing look and a small tear in the corner of her eye, Aram’s mum let us go.

I’m glad Aram is now getting his second chance here in Israel to get his needed heart surgery done. Beautiful and fearful Aram needs our prayer for comfort and healing. Pray with us for him to become a strong and healthy boy! He is precious to my heart and even more precious to our Lord in heaven, who never forgets his children on this earth. He’s always faithful, and I’m confident he will show his goodness towards beloved Aram.  

Israel Welcomes Adorable Aram

Posted on Sun, 03/02/2014 - 21:15 by Kristina Kayser

I've often thought Iraqi Kurdistan has an endless supply of beautiful children, and little Aram is no exception. I got my first glimpse of him last Friday when I had the privilege of escorting him and his mother across the border from Jordan into Israel. He looked up at me with big, dark brown eyes under thick lashes.

Even though I was a complete stranger to Aram, he seemed perfectly trusting, perhaps because he felt so secure in his mother's arms. I have since discovered this is Aram's favorite place to be. His mother, a soft-spoken and gentle woman, appeared weary—weary for rest and weary for hope for her son. 

In addition to Aram having a serious heart condition, he has also never learned to walk, despite being nearly three years old. Some repercussions of cardiac defects include general weakness and delayed development, which could be one reason for this immobility. We hope to learn more about his heart and overall health tomorrow when doctors at Wolfson perform his first echo exam and assessments. 

Over the last couple of days, Aram and his mother have been settling into life at Shevet and getting to know our community.

I believe this little boy is precious in the eyes of God and his life is worth every effort to save. Please pray for Aram, as his journey towards a new heart is just beginning. 

Expecting Aram

Posted on Sun, 12/29/2013 - 18:19 by Kelsey Cannon

Two-year-old Aram from northern Iraq was born with a rare congenital heart defect where the two main arteries emerging out of the heart, the pulmonary artery and the aorta, are switched. The result of this defect is that a scant amount of oxygen in the blood is circulated by the heart to the rest of the body - manifesting in physical symptoms like cyanosis and perpetual shortness of breath. Left untreated, this heart defect can be fatal. And even after proper surgical treatment, lifelong follow-up with a cardiologist is recommended. However, those who receive treatment normally grow up to lead normal, healthy lives. Fortunately for little Aram, a normal, healthy life is just what is expected for him. We anticipate his arrival in Israel in the next month or so for surgical correction of his congenital heart defect that would otherwise be unavailable to him in his home country.