Ayad's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Looking In On Ayad's Recovery

Posted on Mon, 10/10/2011 - 23:50 by Stephanie Ventura
I had the pleasure of visiting Ayad and his mother this morning to check in on his progress and speak with her about how she is doing. Given that it has been only one day since his operation, many of us did not expect significant changes in his progress, only that he would steadily continue to get better. I was surprised when we were at his bedside and noticed his little mouth starting to twitch, and within two minutes he managed to open wide and let out a whimper that eventually led to cries. This caught his mother

Holding on to Hope through Ayad's Heart Surgery

Posted on Sun, 10/09/2011 - 20:35 by Kristina Kayser

This morning's schedule at Wolfson Hospital changed more than the season's autumn leaves. One surgery was canceled and another postponed, making Ayad the first and only operation of the day. This adorable toddler has only been in Israel for six days, but has already made remarkable strides. 
Typically, a child with Tetralogy of Fallot requires a full repair of four different cardiac malfunctions. In Ayad's case, his already complex diagnosis is further complicated with at least two additional problems: certain areas of his heart are underdeveloped and a medium-sized breach exists between his upper chambers (Atrial Septal Defect). Nevertheless, doctors at Wolfson pressed forward despite the challenges. 
Before the OR (operating room) staff arrived to escort him to surgery, I spent some quiet moments acquainting myself with Ayad and his mother. Ayad's bright eyes and chubby cheeks personify his warm and loveable personality. He laughed at each of my failed attempts to blow bubbles, coaxing me with his smile to keep trying. When doctors and nurses gathered around Ayad to administer anesthesia, he stared up at them with wide-eyed wonder. One doctor noted his healthy weight and asked him what kinds of food he enjoys eating. Their humor and gentle manners put mother and child at ease as Ayad was ushered into the operating theater. 
His mother cried softly for a minute, then dried her eyes and straightened her shoulders, as if preparing herself for the long wait. I've learned that time hangs in the balance when a child is undergoing surgery, and every mother holds her breath with indefinable hope. Ayad's mother and I sat side by side waiting, two women worlds apart in background, culture, and experiences, yet bridged by a common plea towards heaven for the life of a small boy. 
After a mere two-and-a-half hours, I was prompted to walk towards the OR and try to get an update. Much to our surprise, the doors opened, and there was Ayad! Following rapidly on the heels of the transport team, Ayad's mother beamed relief with the news that all went well with the operation. An hour later, she was at her son's bedside, carefully studying each machine and tubing being attached to his small body in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). 
Meanwhile, a physician briefly explained to me that although today's surgery did indeed go well, it is most likely preliminary. He explained that Ayad's heart will require further repair perhaps in the next six to twelve months. I did not receive details on which areas of his heart were managed today, only that there were no complications and that Ayad is stable. 
I prayed and wrestled with how and when to communicate this information to his mother, who was so clearly relishing in the surgery's conclusion. After some time, I carefully proceeded with sharing the doctor's report with her. I did not expect such calm resolution in her response. Rather than direct her thoughts to the future, she clung to the good news of the present. Today, the surgery went well. Today, her son was alive. Today, she could give thanks to God! 
Please join with me in praying for Ayad and his mother to find rest and comfort in God's strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.  "Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD." Psalm 31:24 

Active Ayad Stays Overnight in Hospital

Posted on Thu, 10/06/2011 - 00:00 by Donna_West

The first order of examination for Ayad was to the echo department. Dr. Alona took one look at this active one-year-old and said, "He's not going to lay quiet for an echo. I will bring you some medicine to make him sleep."  During Bilal's echo we could still hear Ayad playing outside the door and the doctor said more than once, "He's not asleep  yet?" But once he fell asleep the echo was completed with ease and his Tetrology of Fallot (TOF) diagnosis was confirmed. A new medication was introduced and Ayad was to be admitted to the hospital overnight while the medical staff kept a close watch to be sure his body responded well to it.  It was plain to see that Ayad was ready to leave this place as he continually waved 'bye bye' after each procedure.  Leaving was not going to happen as quickly as he hoped, though.

The next stop was the nurses station. It was time for measurements of blood pressure, oxygen levels, temperature, blood work and urine specimens next--and Ayad just wanted to go home!  He was intent to free himself  from everything being attached to him and even the stuffed animals did not distract him well.

Oxygen had to be administered to him while blood was being drawn.  Please pray the surgery schedule opens for our TOF patients.

Ayad Rolls Into Israel

Posted on Tue, 10/04/2011 - 10:39 by Stephanie Ventura
As I walked into the passport control area at the Jordan border, the first thing I saw was this little ball of a child rolling around on the floor and crawling after anyone who crossed his path. He looked at me in the same way as he looked at all of the other strangers, but once I said his name, he grinned and crawled away.
Ayad and his mother had been traveling for seven hours prior to the Jordan/Israel border and naturally, were exhausted. We tried to get through border control as quickly as possible so that we could get on with our last two hours of travel. I explained to Ayad