Arin's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

A New Beginning

Posted on Tue, 01/06/2015 - 21:24 by Kyle Carlson

The sun was just beginning to rise as Kristina and I drove to Wolfson Hospital. Today was Arin’s surgery day, and he was scheduled for the early morning time slot. He was actually sent to surgery much earlier than usual, so, despite our best efforts, we arrived just after he was escorted downstairs to the operating department. This is where we met his mother, who was doing remarkably well, but understandably a bit teary. When the parent has to leave their child for surgery, it is often one of the most difficult moments of their time here. A parent’s reaction can vary, but it is always an emotional moment and an important moment for ministry. On a surgery day, the most important role we, as Shevet Achim volunteers, fill is to just be there for the families. Put simply, it can be a very intense day. However, it is an awesome opportunity for families to feel God’s peace and support through our community.

Once Arin’s surgery began, so did the waiting. On average, a surgery probably takes somewhere from 4 to 6 hours, sometimes more. While we waited, Arin’s mother talked to relatives, caught up on some needed sleep and spent time talking with Kristina. Around 10:00 am, we received notification that Arin’s surgery was complete and all went well. The doctors were satisfied with the results and hope that this is the only surgery he will need. A full repair of his four-part heart defect, Tetralogy of Fallot, was made. This included closing the hole between his two lower chambers and opening up a narrow artery to help with the circulation of oxygen-rich blood. We then moved to the waiting room outside the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for Arin to arrive. Soon enough, there came Arin, escorted by four doctors.

We only had a moment with him before he continued into the ICU, but it was very reassuring to see him and the positive demeanor of his escorting doctors. We then needed to wait outside the ICU until the doctors completed their work. In the meantime, a friendly volunteer from Save A Child’s Heart, or SACH, took some pictures of Arin for us to view.

Not too long after that, we were allowed to see Arin. He was still intubated (breathing from a ventilator), so he could gradually recover from the surgery. Although he had almost every kind of electronic monitoring system imaginable connected to him, he looked at peace. It is a powerful moment when you first see a child after surgery. It is even more powerful to see a child and parent reunited after such an intense time.

Arin has a loving mother and father, and a loving family here at Shevet Achim. He has captured the hearts of many volunteers during his time here. I have grown to care for and love little Arin very much. He is always full of joy and energy. Perhaps it is because he is the only boy we have had on base recently, but I have developed a close connection with him. He brings joy to my life every time I see him, and I hope I bring some to his life. I cannot wait to see how much energy and life he brings to our community now that his heart is fully healed. It was amazing today to see God work through so many people to bring healing to his little heart. Today, Arin began the day with a life threatening heart defect. Currently, he lies in a bed at Wolfson Hospital with a healed heart and a mother who loves him very much at his side. It is worth pausing for a moment to realize the gravity of what just happened and the miracle God has done today.

Arin’s mother was so excited to see her son lying there with a healed heart. She was very talkative and positive as we all ate lunch together. She was full of joy and appreciation. I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to see her child go through such a process. However, God is good and faithful to complete the good works He has started. God absolutely started an amazing work when he brought Arin into this world. As we now look to Arin’s recovery, we are thankful to God for that as well. God brought him all the way from Iraq to Shevet Achim for a reason. I am convinced God has big plans for Arin and his family. My prayer is that Arin learns to know the love of his Father, the same love that healed his heart. 

Arin Admitted for Surgery

Posted on Mon, 01/05/2015 - 20:56 by Kristina Kayser

Arin's mother stood in the courtyard with her sleeping baby as we prepared to leave for Wolfson this afternoon. The entire Shevet community gathered around them to pray and send them off with love. And as we prayed, this mother wept. She told me yesterday, in tears, that she was so afraid and wanted so much for Arin to be well

However, as soon as we pulled out of the parking lot, she seemed calm and resolute; so much so, that she happily agreed to be filmed and interviewed by two local film students. Arin slept peacefully on as she answered every question with sincerity and enthusiasm. When she was asked how her experience has been in Israel and what she will miss when she leaves, Arin's mother said that Israel is wonderful and that she is thankful for all of the help they have received. She also added that while the waiting time has been difficult, she has loved spending time with the Shevet community and that we have become family to her.

Upon arrival to the hospital, his mother was overjoyed with their bed assignment which was right next to the window. Arin was equally excited and simply could not wait to begin his favorite pastime--opening and closing the window over and over!

The nurses and doctors were smitten with their adorable patient. Arin cooperated quite well with the necessary admission process, crying only with the unpleasant task of an IV poke and blood test.

We prayed together once more and asked the Lord to remove fear and give His peace to both Arin and his mother. Tomorrow, our dear boy will go into surgery at 8am; please pray for Dr. Sasson as he carefully repairs Arin's heart and also for Arin's mother to experience the presence of God as she waits.

A Gift From God

Posted on Wed, 12/24/2014 - 13:28 by Mart Nuyen

Jesse and myself traveled from Jerusalem to Wolfson Medical Centre to pick up a little child named Arin. We found the little boy lying in a big bed sleeping away, and his mother on the phone by the window. The doctor came by to check him one more time, and gently woke him up. The moment Arin woke up, his bright smile returned to him. He is such a friendly and joyful child. Once the doctor concluded, we all left for Shevet Achim, stopping by the Gaza border on our way home. Here at Shevet Achim, Arin can continue to recover with love of our nurses and volunteers surrounding him. So we can say, “Thank you Lord!” for this precious life that is gift from God. 

Smiling Once Again

Posted on Mon, 12/22/2014 - 23:21 by Kyle Carlson

As I walked through the children’s ward at Wolfson today, I came across a familiar face smiling back at me. Arin was admitted yesterday to Wolfson because of a fever. Today, we learned that the fever was caused by an ear infection, nothing more serious. The staff started Arin on antibiotics, and he should return home tomorrow. It was great to see joy again on his face. He was obviously feeling much better, and once again making everyone around him smile. 

Continued Faithfulness

Posted on Sun, 12/21/2014 - 22:41 by Kristina Kayser

Sweet little Arin has not been feeling well the last couple of days, with a winter cold being the most likely culprit. But once he spiked a fever this afternoon, a trip to Wolfson Hospital became necessary. Arin's mother was anxious about her son's health, so we prayed together for healing for Arin and peace for her own heart. Just a couple weeks ago, this same mother had noted how our community often prays and how she has seen God answer our prayers.

May the Lord continue to show His faithfulness to her!

As for Arin, he slept peacefully almost all the way to Tel Aviv and improved remarkably after receiving fever-reducing medicine. By the time our group arrived, he was awake and playful and willing to cooperate with the doctors and nurses.

Arin was admitted for the night in order to understand the cause of the fever and provide proper treatment. Please pray that our dear friend will recover quickly and return home to us in Jerusalem. 

Dazzling Love

Posted on Tue, 12/09/2014 - 21:39 by Jesse Tilman

We are happy to report that Arin is back on Prophets Street after an overnight stay in the hospital due to his missing medication and a postponed echo.

He has been cleared, checked, and processed; and is now showing his joyous little face around our building. This energetic boy loves life and looks at you with sparkles in his eyes, as if expecting some amazing new event to dazzle him at any moment. His mother also is very friendly and easy to talk with. We got to know about each other's families, taste in movies, and language skills on the drive home today. I thank God for the opportunity to be a part of giving Arin a better future!

Energetic Arin

Posted on Mon, 12/08/2014 - 21:19 by Julia Binder

Today, we had the wonderful privilege of taking Arin to Wolfson Hospital for his first check up. First, we went to the nurses' station to check in, and then they guided us to do the x-ray. After that, we took the chance to eat some lunch outside because we still had to wait for his initial examination.

Arin was just heartwarming. He was smiling the whole time and was full of energy. While eating lunch, we learned that Arin is his parents only child. You can feel the deep connection between mother and son.

During his initial examination, which Arin went through with much courage, he had two blood tests. Then the doctors decided to keep Arin overnight for a couple of reasons. One reason was to watch his oxygen levels because he has been without heart medication since Saturday. And this caused him to become very blue when he cried during the blood tests. The other reason is that they wanted to wait and do his echo exam tomorrow, instead of today.

It is a very new situation for mother and son to be alone in the hospital. At first she seamed to be anxious, but with some encouragement and after feeling more settled in her surroundings, she was much happier. We all hope that they don't feel alone tonight and that they can come back tomorrow.  


Posted on Sun, 12/07/2014 - 18:29 by Laura Bourn

We just got back from a long trip from Jordan to Israel. The long part was mainly waiting at the border crossing, but thank God we made it with a happy Arin! He started smiling from the moment we picked him up at the airport. He is a beautiful 11-month-old baby with the most gorgeous eyes and long eyelashes.

He was very well behaved, even during the two hours we spent at the border. As soon as he got on his hands and knees at the passport control, he raced across the tiled floor to the other side of the room! He is full of joy and energy, so much that he has trouble catching his breath at times. The hardest part was actually getting him into the car seat! He cried a little while we were wrestling him in and out of it, but it didn't take much to get a laugh out of him again.  

After arriving at the airport, Arin and his young mother, as well as Arena, a little girl also from Kurdistan and her mother, got a good night's rest in Amman. Before heading off, we had a Jordanian lunch together at a restaurant, which Arin seemed to appreciate very much. 

As we finally arrived at Shevet, Arin's mother was very touched to see the whole welcome crew waiting for the van. Instead of clinging to his mother in front of all these new faces, Arin started warming up to the other children and several volunteers. He is definitely a very outgoing baby!