Ayad's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Ayad Returns to Jerusalem After Cath

Posted on Thu, 03/07/2013 - 19:00 by Kristina Kayser

When I peeked around the curtain beside Ayad's bed, I was surprised to find him standing by himself, but looking completely self-assured. His mother had stepped out for just a moment, but it didn't seem to bother him a bit. In fact, he proceeded to pull himself up into an easy chair and casually stretch out. I think this kid has quickly learned that hospitals and waiting go together like Kurdish tea and sugar. "I might as well make myself comfortable," his posture seemed to say. What a dramatic change of disposition from the terrified boy I had seen earlier this week. 

As his mother entered the room, I shared the good news that she and Ayad could return to Jerusalem today. Yesterday's catheterization went very well, and Ayad recovered without complication. Doctors now have all the information they need to conduct the optimal surgery for Ayad's heart. While we don't yet know when this surgery will be, I trust that God will provide the grace needed in the waiting. 

Our day concluded with a short trip to the seaside before returning to Jerusalem. Ayad didn't seem so impressed by the aqua waters or cloud-laced skies, but his mother seemed to enjoy every minute of it and came home with quite the collection of sea shells (translated as "fish ears" in Kurdish). As vast as the landscape was before us, so is God's love and faithfulness towards this mother and son. 

Successful Catheterization for Ayad

Posted on Wed, 03/06/2013 - 14:53 by Jesse Tilman

Marie and I went to be with Ayad and his mother this morning during his catheterization. Unfortunately, traffic stalled our arrival by an hour and we found Ayad

Ayad Admitted for Cath Tomorrow

Posted on Tue, 03/05/2013 - 22:08 by Kristina Kayser

Ayad and his mother were just getting settled into the routine of home and community here when the hospital called unexpectedly this morning. Over the last two years, I have grown accustomed to living by the creed "subject to change." The element of surprise certainly makes life interesting at Shevet, with Ayad being the most recent recipient. The purpose of the phone call was to invite Ayad to be admitted today for a cardiac catheterization tomorrow. One case had been cancelled, and our dear friend was next on the list. His mother, while a bit alarmed at first, was happy to get the ball rolling towards surgery.

Ayad slept most of the way to Wolfson and woke up to discover he was in his least favorite place. I'm sure he wished he was dreaming. A very intuitive toddler, Ayad immediately recognized the dreaded hallways and nurses station. He began asking over and over, "Where are we going? Why are we here? I don't want a needle! Can't we go home?!" It was breaking his poor mother's heart. She tried her best to assuage him with cookies and promises of the playground, but the tears came all too soon. 

The pediatrician, Dr. Michael, skillfully secured an IV line on the first try, in spite of Ayad's strong resistance and screams. His mother eventually broke down crying as well. These experiences really take a toll on both mother and child, and they need all the assurance and comfort we can give. Life here has also taught me the reality that God comforts us so that "we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Corinthians 1:4). 

Comfort came and tears were replaced with smiles once we walked outside to the playground. Ayad studied his new play area carefully before exploring the various swings and slides. Meanwhile, I spoke with his mother about what to expect tomorrow and answered her questions. In the end, I left a satisfied mother and son sitting in the sunshine and enjoying the quiet repose. 

Ayad will begin fasting at midnight tonight in preparation for tomorrow's cath. This diagnostic procedure will allow doctors to gain 3-D computer imagery of his heart while Ayad sleeps under anesthesia. The results will then provide a framework for the surgeon to create the best plan of operation. Please pray that this mother and son will experience the fullness of God's comfort as they take one more step towards healing! 

Ayad All Business for Hospital Debut

Posted on Mon, 03/04/2013 - 22:00 by Kristina Kayser

It's been almost exactly sixteen months to the day when Ayad bid us farewell after his first surgery in Israel. At that time, he was a serious baby who stuck close to his mom, partly because he couldn't walk yet and partly because it took some time to earn his trust. I still remember the day he extended his gift of friendship to me...He was sitting on his mother's lap, per usual, and I was sitting beside them eating a sandwich. Although Ayad had already had his lunch, he began eyeing mine. His gaze became so fixed that both his mom and I started laughing at his unambiguous hinting. I gave in to his big brown eyes, and the rest is history. I guess you could say our friendship was built bite upon bite because he ended up eating more than half of my sandwich.

Reuniting with Ayad and seeing how much he's grown has been delightful. Now, a strapping toddler, this boy's got quite the personality. Not only does he have a cool faux hawk and aviator jacket, but he walks with a slight swagger to complete the persona. The fact that he sports a smurf-embroidered cardigan is the only giveaway that this kid is still a toddler. When Ayad and his mother arrived on the scene at Wolfson this morning, he was all business. Striding down the hospital corridor, he paused for a moment to let me snap a photo.

Today was Ayad's reintroduction to medical care in Israel, which consisted of a battery of tests and assessments. It helped that his mother was familiar with the routine and knew a little of what to expect. Once blood work, an electrocardiograph, and vital signs were completed, it was time for an echo.

Ayad was given a mild sedative  to ensure his cooperation while Dr. Alona meticulously studied his heart through 2-D sonography. The sedative was not strong enough to put him to sleep, but it did cause him to lay still and chatter happily through the exam. The conclusion of the echo was encouraging: Dr. Alona remarked that his heart has responded quite well to the BT shunt repair in 2011. This surgery helped open his pulmonary artery, creating greater blood flow to Ayad's right ventricle, thus strengthening his heart for a complete repair of TOF. Knowing that Ayad's previous treatment resulted in the desired outcome is something to praise God for! In the upcoming weeks, the cardiology team will discuss when his surgery will be and whether or not he needs a diagnostic catheterization prior to the operation. His mother was relieved to hear this news, and Ayad was relieved to know this day of needles, probes, and strangers was now over.

Glancing back at my little friend in the back seat, I was thrilled to see him smile back at me. Whether or not he remembers we were friends once upon a time, he holds a special place in my heart. It's a gift to have him back again and be a part of his sequel adventure in Israel. Just as God has been faithfully strengthening Ayad's heart this past year, I trust that His faithfulness will continue to guide him towards full restoration.

Spirited Ayad Ready For Round Two In Israel

Posted on Sun, 03/03/2013 - 22:08 by Kelsey Cannon

You can never re-do a bad first impression. Unfortunately, I faced this sad reality yesterday when meeting Ayad. I suppose we technically met at the cardiology screening in Iraq this week, but I

Saying Farewell to Ayad for a Year

Posted on Sun, 11/06/2011 - 23:33 by Stephanie Ventura
Friday we said goodbye to both Ayad and his mother as doctors and nurses confirmed that his final echo turned out well and he is in good condition to leave for Iraq. It is quite amazing how much his first surgery helped in changing the pigment of his skin to a more natural color. Those signs of healing are direct, and praise God for those kind of signs, because the inner workings of one

Reeling Like Ray

Posted on Mon, 10/31/2011 - 19:20 by Stephanie Ventura

Ayad and his mother are accustomed to the echo room now and even the waiting room. I was surprised today when I saw little Ayad spending the time before his echo composing lively jazz pieces on a mini piano we found in the hallway. This completely contrasted all of his prior visits to the hospital in which he would latch to his mother in hesitation and fear.

The doctor said that everything she had examined today looked well and on the path of good healing. She also reiterated that there were no official dates given for Ayad

Ayad's Advance

Posted on Mon, 10/24/2011 - 22:43 by Kristina Kayser

Irresistible. That's Ayad. With each passing day, his lovable personality continues to unfold. I remember the first time Ayad smiled at the sight of me, rather than cry and bury his head. You see, I am a nurse, and anyone with a stethoscope or medicine is someone to be weary of [sic], according to Ayad. We shared a sandwich together last week, and thus began our friendship. Despite the fact that I still examine him daily, songs and games of peek-a-boo have become that spoonful of sugar which helps the medicine go down.

Another mark of progress came today with Ayad's first post-operative echo. This exam entails 2-D computer imagery that allows physicians to determine how well the heart is functioning after surgery.

While Ayad and his mother waited for his turn to be checked, a warm bottle of milk helped pass the time. His mother is so full of love for her son, and it reflects in their relationship. She prattles on in Kurdish, and he seems to take in every word, responding equally with babble that only a mother can understand.

Once doctors commenced the echo, Ayad lay frightened and sobbing. With a calm voice and gentle hands, his mother kept him still. Dr. Alona expressed that the BT shunt procedure, completed two weeks ago, is performing its duty well. Improved oxygenation will lend to continued growth and development for Ayad prior to his next surgery. The date for his next, and hopefully final, cardiac repair is still to be determined. The soonest projected date is in three months, but it is equally possible that one year may pass before Ayad is invited back to Israel for surgery.

Ayad's mother is experiencing peace about the reality of a second operation. Once she understood that the Shevet community would be here to walk this road with her once more, qualms were stilled. We rejoice in knowing that Ayad has even more potential for healing, and that doctors at Wolfson are ready and willing to work towards a fully restored heart. Please wait and pray with us for Ayad's continued healing as the psalmist so instructs: "My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him...Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah." Psalm 62:5,8

Ayad Released to Convalesce in Jerusalem

Posted on Mon, 10/17/2011 - 00:06 by Kristina Kayser

Baby Ayad and his mother were overjoyed to return to Jerusalem this evening after spending the last eleven days in the hospital. Their arrival in Israel was christened by admittance to Wolfson's pediatric department with surgery shortly thereafter. Despite not being with the Shevet community in Jerusalem this last week, strong ties with this mother and son have still been forged. 

Ayad's condition of Tetralogy of Fallot was accompanied by a breach in his upper chambers (known as an Atrial Ventricular Defect) and a malfunctioning pulmonary artery, which makes his homecoming even more significant. Physically, he is responding well to the BT shunt procedure. His oxygen level and circulation have already improved, allowing his body to function at a higher capacity until the time comes for a full cardiac reconstruction to be performed. No date is set for this surgery yet, but there may be a long interim, allowing for recovery and growth before the next operation. 
Emotionally, Ayad seems to be gun-shy of any medical staff. He kept his distance from me when I first arrived, cautiously observing my motives from a safe vantage point--his mother's arms. I told him I was his friend and gave him space to make his estimation of me. The last obstacle before reaching Jerusalem was a two-hour drive in a not-so-popular car seat. The only thing that seemed to soothe Ayad's cries was his mother's soft voice and the gentle lull of Kurdish music playing in the background. 
All was restored in Ayad's world, however, as mothers, children, and friends welcomed them home with enthusiasm. It was truly a joyous occasion at the Shevet house tonight! I never cease to be amazed at the way God grants wisdom and skill to the physicians who so tirelessly serve to repair each child's heart. Every beating pulse is a gift from the Father, who knits us together in the womb and fashions each heart with care. We give thanks for the healing Ayad has received from heaven's gates to Israel's hands.