Arwa's Heart Surgery


Little Surprises

Posted on Sun, 03/01/2015 - 23:22 by Ruth Zellweger

What a joy it was today to find Arwa in the Secondary ICU. His recovery from his second open heart surgery has been slow but steady. His lovely mother continues to be a source of comfort for this precious little boy. Arwa's smile warms the heart of anyone who comes near him.

And today, he surprised Kristina and I with the hint of a first tooth! Thank you for praying for Arwa and his mother so faithfully.

Arwa Successfully Extubated

Posted on Thu, 02/26/2015 - 23:02 by Ruth Zellweger

With each hour after his second open heart surgery, Arwa has been recovering. After a satisfying echo in the early morning, the doctors decided to take him of the mechanic ventilation today to see how he would manage on his own.

And praise God, Arwa is doing really well. We are thankful for the progress he is making and trust God that He will heal Arwa's heart completley.

There is Always Hope!

Posted on Wed, 02/25/2015 - 22:04 by Kristina Kayser

In a place like Shevet Achim, where we witness the frailty of life on a daily basis, hope is something we cling to. It is not a hope found in people, or statistics, or circumstances; rather, it is anchored in the Author of hope Himself. And in the life of baby Arwa, Messiah has given us many reasons to continue in hope.

Arwa has now had two open heart surgeries within two weeks and remains in stable condition in Wolfson's ICU. Julia, Kyle, and I had the joy of the visiting him and his mother today just one day after his second operation. Arwa's mother greeted us with a smile while finishing a conversation with her husband on the phone. She takes much comfort from staying in close communication with her family these days. 

I accompanied Arwa's mother to see her baby in ICU, and on our way, we were pleasantly surprised to see the surgeon come around the corner. Dr. Sasson told us that his repair of Arwa's mitral valve yesterday looks good and that he is pleased to see improvement today. The pulmonary hypertension has reduced slightly and further progress is anticipated. "There is still danger," Dr. Sasson continued, "but there is hope. There is always hope!" Amen to that!

While Arwa continues to breathe through mechanical ventilation, he may be extubated within the next day or two. Please intercede with us for the life of this precious boy! May our Father strengthen his heart day by day and continue to fill our hearts with hope.


Posted on Tue, 02/24/2015 - 23:07 by Ruth Zellweger

The more time I get to spend with little Arwa, the more I fall in love with this precious little boy, and with his sweet and gentle mother. She is quiet and sometimes seems shy, but in reality she is a very strong young woman and not easily intimidated.

Today, our fellow Danish volunteers, Rebekka and Maria, and I had the privilege of being with Arwa's mother during the wait of his second open heart surgery. We met her in the waiting room in front of the ICU, and then she and I went into the ICU to see Arwa. He was already intubated and prepared to go into the Operation Room. His mother told me that the cardiologists had performed a catheterization yesterday, and afterwards decided that Arwa would need another surgery to repair the mitral valve. Arwa looked very small and fragile in the big hospital bed. I prayed with his mother for Arwa's precious life and for wisdom for the surgeons during the repair of his heart. We then went outside and waited there until Arwa was wheeled down into the OR. We followed his bed until we reached the OR, where his mother had to sign the surgery consent form. And then our waiting time started. Arwa's mother showed us pictures from yesterday's beach outing and I asked her through a translator if she would want to go again to the beach. She said yes, and off we went. We watched the calm sea, observed several men fishing, had some juice, sat in the sand for a while, and looked at sea shells. Then Arwa's mother, Rebekka and Maria went for a short walk on the seashore.

It was such a peaceful atmosphere. After about an hour we headed back to the hospital, where Dr. Houri told Arwa's mother that the surgery would last about two more hours. We spent the remaining time with other families at the ward and in the outdoor playground area.

We then positioned ourselves in the hallway leading to the ICU so we would not miss the moment when Arwa would be brought back. After half an hour, Arwa was wheeled into the ICU, accompanied by one of the surgeons and another doctor. They seemed relaxed and not in a hurry. Arwa's mother looked relieved. She had kept her composure so well during the waiting time, had not cried nor mentioned any worries, but with each passing hour she had become a little bit more restless. We waited for the surgeon to exit the ICU to ask him more detail about how the surgery had gone and if it was successful. Or would a third surgery be necessary? The kind doctor took time to explain that the surgery had been quite difficult, but that the results of the repair of the mitral valve had been satisfying. Arwa still has some pulmonary hypertension that will be treated. He also told us that we should not expect Arwa to be extubated tomorrow. It would be a few more days before they could take him of the respirator. However, overall he was stable. We rejoiced with his mother, knowing that God had shown much mercy and grace on Arwa, but that he still was not completely well.

We then went to have lunch, and then Arwa's mother and I entered the ICU to be with Arwa. This time no explanation was necessary about washing hands and all the different tubes and lines, as Arwa's mother was already accustomed to the ICU-environment.

We are praising God for working mightily in Arwa's life. He has good plans for Arwa and his mother. Thank you for continuing to pray for a complete healing and recovery.

Plan of Action

Posted on Mon, 02/23/2015 - 21:54 by Jesse Tilman

Arwa's hospital plot thickened as we found out further complications today. Arwa is now not only just in ICU, but he is in the isolated room of the ICU. The doctors discussed his case today. The main points I heard were that he has a constricted mitral valve, which they had hoped would expand with the increased blood flow after surgery. This hasn't happened, and they are planning another surgery tomorrow to correct this. If this doesn't work, God forbid, they will have to go in again to undo the first surgery to get to the optimal possible working state for his heart.

Arwa's mother heard all this through a translator and took it well. She has several Palestinian friends in the children's ward that she spends her time with, and soon after hearing this news with us, she headed over to be with them. During our time at the hospital, we also made an excursion to the beach with her and lifted our spirits with the beautiful vista and fresh air.

Finding special sea shells, building sand castles, and meeting other Arabic speakers were in the all-inclusive package!

Back in ICU, we prayed over Arwa before leaving. This child is a precious treasure put in our responsibility for a time by our Father in Heaven. May the doctors have wisdom and insight as they labor over him in the next few days.

Waiting for Answers

Posted on Sun, 02/22/2015 - 22:26 by Judith Schmidt

Ruth and I went to check on Arwa and his mom today. Yesterday, we were informed that Arwa was transfered to the ICU due to tachyarrhythmia (with a heartrate up to 270 beats per minute). He soon was stabilized by the medical staff, but the doctors could not find the cause of the sudden tachyarrhythmia.

I was very curious as we made our way through the hospital floors in search of Arwa's mom because this would be my first time at Wolfson hospital and my first time seeing Arwa and his mom. As soon as I saw the mother's peaceful brown eyes, similar to Arwa's beautiful brown eyes, I calmed down.

As we sat down, she started showing me pictures of her family. She smiled with eyes full of love and pride for her little ones. Arwa was peacefully sleeping, so we decided to take his mom for lunch and a little walk. This was a perfect opportunity to give her a little rest and an escape from the hospital atmosphere for a while. She enjoyed the schwarma (meat sandwich) and the little walk.

After that, Ruth and Arwa's mom went to check on Arwa in the ICU.

I patiently waited, again curious what they had found out about Arwa's condition so far. Arwa stayed at the ICU today in order to be monitored and in order to hopefully have the cause of his heartrate explosion discovered. (There were no further results when we left the hospital later.) Arwa's mom seemed tense because of the remaining uncertainty about what had caused the tachyarrhythmia. Ruth tried to calm her down by explaining what the doctors had planned, and she promised to call the ICU in the evening. In the end, all we could do is spend time with Arwa's mom and love her, knowing she and Arwa will be safe and sound in the arms of our loving Father.

Safe in His Arms

Posted on Wed, 02/18/2015 - 22:00 by Lindsay Martin

Today I was blessed to visit Arwa and his mother at the hospital. Arwa received surgery one week ago today and is recovering well. 

The last time I had seen precious Arwa was the day he was originally scheduled to have surgery, later to find out it had been moved to the next day. My heart broke when we heard the news that the surgery would be delayed. I could see the disappointment on his mother's face. After all the waiting, she would need to wait again. But I was comforted, knowing that our Heavenly Father was watching over both of them. 

When I saw his mother today, it was a beautiful contrast to the last time. She was full of smiles and kisses. I thank and praise God for the beautiful work He has done on Arwa's heart. 

As I spent time with him and his mother, I was able to watch his interactions with her. It's amazing to see the difference it makes when he is out of her arms. He will cry and fuss until he once again finds himself in her arms. 

That is the same picture we see of our Heavenly Father. He lifts us up when we cry out to Him. In Psalm 40:1-2, it says, "I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure." 

He hears our cries and draws us closer to Himself. It reminds me of a song by Phil Wickham called “Safe,” where he sings, "You will be safe in His arms; the hands that hold the world are holding your heart." 

Our Father is holding Arwa in His arms, and there is no better place for him to be. 

"He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young."

Isaiah 40:11

Healing Beautifully

Posted on Mon, 02/16/2015 - 22:47 by Ruth Zellweger

Precious Arwa is still in the hospital, but is recovering well after his open heart surgery. He was transferred to the ward a few days ago, where I found him and his mother today.

They are always a picture of peace together, and it is a joy to spend time with them. We hope to soon welcome them back into our home in Jerusalem. 

Arwa is Extubated

Posted on Thu, 02/12/2015 - 20:07 by Ruth Zellweger

Our little friend Arwa is recovering well from his open heart surgery. I met his mother in the waiting room, and she told me that Arwa had been extubated. After lunch we went together into the ICU, and I was able to see for myself how well he was doing.

We praise God for His healing work in Arwa's life. 

Surgery Day for the Boy with Beautiful Eyes

Posted on Wed, 02/11/2015 - 22:36 by Kristina Kayser

One of the first things I noticed about Arwa was his beautiful eyes. They are so curious, gentle, and full of life. It's been said that eyes are the window to the soul, and looking into Arwa's, you can quickly observe what a precious boy he is.

And for a boy so loved by his family and the Shevet community, it was clear that today would be a special day. Today, Arwa's heart would be made whole. 

Konrad and I were on the road to Tel Aviv for his surgery this morning when I received word that he was already in the operating room (OR). While happy that things appeared to be ahead of schedule, I had been looking forward to seeing Arwa and his smiling eyes before the surgery as well as being there to support his mother. When I first met his mother in the ward, her eyes lit up, and she told me that her son had been escorted to the OR about an hour earlier. 

Preparing ourselves for a long wait, we took our seats just outside the pediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Imagine my surprise when Arwa was rolled out of the ICU an hour later, fully sedated, and heading downstairs to the surgery department!

Apparently, he had been in the ICU this whole time for preliminary procedures, namely anesthesia and intubation (breathing by mechanical ventilation). I immediately jumped up and chased after his gurney to get a glimpse of sweet Arwa. His mother calmly watched her son's departure, and she continued to impress me with her patient and resolute spirit throughout the remainder of the day.

For the next four hours, we remained side by side in hopeful anticipation. Sometimes, we sat silently, absorbed in our own thoughts. And other times, she graciously listened and helped me practice Arabic. We also went for a walk around the hospital, stopping for photo ops in front of flowers and balloon displays.

One thing I learned about Arwa's mother today is that along with being a very kind and gentle woman, she is also quite clever. I taught her a game that resulted in her beating my score by almost double on her first try!

It was good to have some light-hearted moments and laughter in the middle of an intense day.

Meanwhile, her family in Jordan called regularly for updates, and she was the happiest when speaking with her two small children at home. At last, Arwa came around the corner and into the ICU around 4:30pm. We hugged, rejoiced, and breathed a big sigh of relief. Arwa's mother was glowing, especially when the surgeon, Dr. Sasson, reported that, although the repair had been quite difficult, the results were excellent. Arwa's diagnosis of Double Outlet Right Ventricle required the closure of a very large hole and a small hole as well as the repair of a tunnel-shaped defect. Praise God for this wonderful answer to prayer! Surely, He is faithful in every way. 

Only an hour or so later, Arwa's mother was able to join her son at his bedside in the ICU.

She wore the same expression of peaceful composure that she had since this morning. Nurses were diligently working to care for Arwa as he continued to sleep under anesthesia.

Lord willing, he will be taken off of the ventilator tomorrow and wake up so that we can see his beautiful eyes once more!