Baran's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Noble Warrior

Posted on Sun, 11/15/2015 - 21:39 by Deborah Burke

This farewell blog is written from afar, the southern hemisphere, a land down under. Baran and his mother preceded my arrival at Shevet Achim and outstayed me, so this is written without participating in the famous Shevet farewell/graduation party for Baran. I’m sure that it was a most joyful occasion but with a touch of sadness because of the relationships formed over several months. It is an honour to be asked to write this farewell blog and especially because I formed a special relationship with Baran’s mother during a short time and a few meetings. How precious to be considered family for those visiting a strange land for such a purpose as saving a child’s heart.

"For to the snow He says, 'Fall on the earth,' and to the downpour and the rain, 'Be strong.' " (Job 37:6)

One concept for this verse is about God sending rain. The name “Baran” is taken from Old Persian and means “rain.” God sent Baran to this earth, and we pray that the process of his healing in Israel is the beginning of his growing strength and wholeness. The verse from Job could also apply to Baran’s mother, as she endured so much in the almost four months away from her family with a child so sick that it was only God’s great love and mercy that saved him only for a purpose that will revealed in His time.

Baran and his mother arrived in Israel on Wednesday, the 22nd of July, along with two other children and their mothers, and they left for home also on a Wednesday – nearly four months later.

On arrival, Baran was in a very fragile state and was admitted to hospital the next day with a pre-operative fever that threatened his life.

Then ensued two and a half months in hospital fighting for his life. Perhaps seeing such physical fragility is confronting for a lot of us because it reminds us of our own fragility. It is God, our Creator, who holds our lives in the palm of His hand. It is He who formed each of us in that secret place, who knows every hair on our heads, who knows the purpose of each of our lives. And it is only He who knows the number of days we are to be given on this earth.

Much of Baran’s short time on earth so far has been as a sufferer of heart disease. While in hospital in Israel he was in critical condition. There was a high (40-50%) chance of him not surviving the heart surgery. In between surgery and hospital discharge, Baran’s weight was below 4 kgs, and when I first met him in early September, I didn’t think he would make it through the whole ordeal. Moreover, during this time, he was fed by nasogastric tube; his lung kept closing and opening – so that he had to endure a number of intubations and extubations; and a he had to have a cardiac catheterization just before his discharge home. That is so much to bear for a little one not yet one year old, in a foreign country, and surrounded by strangers who spoke many foreign languages.

In Gaelic, “Baran” means “noble warrior.” Perhaps this is Kurdish Baran’s destiny? He certainly proved to be a fighter for life. Those big brown eyes told many stories to their observers over the four months. They often showed the “noble,” but the “warrior” was hiding, only to truly be revealed at the end.

Perhaps Baran’s lengthy ordeal was also another opportunity for God to show us the great love of a mother for her son. Baran’s mother went through the gamut of emotions with the instability of her son’s condition, but she remained a constant at his bedside.

She also showed up in many photographs, comforting other mothers and their children.

Her capacity for love was endless even though, at times, it took its physical and emotional toll. I’m reminded of 1 John 4:8 – “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

This mother demonstrated that she knew God, and she had so many questions about the God of the Bible. She was earnestly seeking for answers. I believe that she has found some peace through encountering the great God of Israel not only through the Israeli medical and nursing teams that saved her son’s life, but also the sweet love of Jesus that she encountered through the volunteers and staff of Shevet Achim. She regularly expressed deep gratitude even for the little things that people did for her or for Baran. Nothing was ever taken for granted.

My last time seeing Baran in early October was one of great hope and rejoicing that God was building up this child’s strength, rejoicing that Baran is truly a muajaze (“miracle” in Arabic). Baran’s mother, Jesse – my co-worker, and I spent a special time tabernacling at Baran’s bedside (where Baran sang for us) and over prayers and cappuccinos in the food court at Wolfson Hospital on that day. Spiritually, it was a time for rejoicing that God was working on bringing in more of His sheep.

Let us keep this precious family in our prayers, that Baran will continue to grow in physical strength every day and become what he is destined to be, and that God will speak to others through them.

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me." (Revelation 3:20)

From Sarah:

We officially bade farewell to Baran and his mother on Monday.

The farewell party was complete with time for us to share with each other the words in our hearts about the beauty of the work God has done in Baran's life and to share how grateful we are to know each other.

We were all very blessed to know Baran and his mother and to witness God's work in their lives. And Baran's mother shared from her heart how thankful she is to have known all of us and to have shared a small part of her life with us. After sharing, we presented her with gifts for both Baran and her. And she presented us with a gift also – a beautiful clock.

“So that when we look at it, we will remember her,” she said.

Baran and his mother flew back home on Tuesday morning. And his mother joyfully let us know that she had arrived home safely by sending a picture of Baran reunited with his big brother.

We are excited to see how God will continue to work in this family's life.

Baran's Muajaze (Miracle)

Posted on Thu, 11/05/2015 - 20:59 by Rebekah Yang

This morning we got good news from Wolfson hospital after Baran's final echo. He can go back to his home in Kurdistan, northern Iraq, now. Praise God for this wonderful news we received from hospital.

After we got all the discharge reports from Dr. Hanita, as well as medicines for our sweet Baran, we were ready to come back to our lovely home in Jerusalem. On our way back, Baran’s mum kept thanking us for taking care of Baran so well that he could be able to go home far earlier than she had expected.

Looking at Baran’s present condition, I was so touched by how God used the hospital medical team to bless Baran and his whole family by this miracle healing process. So I just reminded her to thank our God, who is in charge and working through Baran’s life. Baran’s mum nodded her head said, “Ilhamdulillah [praise God]. I’ll give Baran another nickname. A miracle from God in the Arabic language is muajaze.”

Yes! Indeed, thank God for this great healing miracle – “muajaze.” May Your holy name be glorified. Amen!

A Beautiful Gift

Posted on Wed, 11/04/2015 - 21:25 by Maureen Grimshaw

Today Baran had a Bronchoscopy done at Wolfson.  The doctors placed a device into the bronchial tubes to check their patency, which showed that the passages to the lungs were open and functioning well.

A catheterization of the heart was performed at the same time.  This showed amore detailed picture of the suspected leak in one of the main arteries.  The results were very pleasing as this supposed hole showed to be a small pouch instead which was not a threat to the heart circulation.  The results were wonderful since it means that after a final echo tomorrow, Baran can be discharged from Wolfson and scheduled to return to Kurdistan to his family. After this long and difficult period for Baran and his mother, they have finally reached the time when the battle for his life is over.  They will go home within a few days.  

We will help Baran's mother prepare for their time back in Kurdistan. For example, now that he is almost one year old he needs to begin eating more solid, substantial food to help him grow.  He is alert and loves listening to music, but we are looking forward to seeing photos from Kurdistan showing his advancement in physical activities.  Some of the normal milestones for a child of his age have not yet been reached but with his renewed strength, and help from the family, we hope to see him grow towards his expected weight and activities for a boy of his age.   

We experienced answers to prayer many times for Baran. And so we rejoice and give praise to the Lord for His faithfulness.


He Was Smiling

Posted on Tue, 11/03/2015 - 20:24 by Miriam Svensson

Today Baran went to the hospital again, this time to be admitted for a heart catheterization tomorrow.

As we waited in the children's ward, Baran was interacting with his mother much more than I have seen before. He shaped his mouth as if he was trying to talk to her and he also smiled several times. As soon as I tried to take a picture of him he stopped, as if he did not want me to catch his smile. But eventually I got it.

Baran tolerated the assessments fairly well. His mother was calm and did not seem worried. After waiting a while again he got av IV cannula on his little hand, and then they were shown to the room that they will share with Stafro and his mother.

Please pray with us that the examination tomorrow will go smoothly and that the doctors will be able to close the hole in Baran's heart.

Baran's Next Step

Posted on Mon, 10/26/2015 - 20:57 by Maureen Grimshaw

Baran has been back home with us at Shevet now for a week and returned to the hospital for an echocardiogram this morning. The main purpose was for the doctors to evaluate his progress and decide if he would need further treatment for the small hole in one of the arteries of his heart. 

Although he has done well during the week at home with us in Shevet, it was decided that the treatment to close this hole via heart catheterization will need done. It is planned possibly for this Wednesday or in a week's time.  

Baran's mother accepted this decision, since she sees that this will be another step towards healing that would be impossible once they return to Kurdistan, norther Iraq. There is a risk involved, however, since this requires general anaesthesia and the hole to be closed is in one of the main arteries of the heart. However, we thank God for Baran's  progress so far and continue to pray for his recovery. 

I am reminded of a scripture that says, “The prayers of a righteous man achieve much” (James 5:16). Jonathan continually reminds us to keep our hearts right before God and he will hear our cries.

Welcome Home Baran!

Posted on Tue, 10/20/2015 - 21:26 by Maureen Grimshaw

Today there was great rejoicing as we received Baran back to Shevet after three months in Wolfson Hospital.

Although his surgery went well, Baran has had a major struggle with his breathing, which he has not yet completely recovered from. However, he has become well enough to return to our Shevet house. 

Here, along with much love and attention, he will receive medications and help with inhalations for his lungs.   

Baran is very alert and able to move himself to some degree. 

We are looking forward to him developing more in this area as he continues gaining weight. As always, Baran's mother has been extremely attentive to her role in physiotherapy and occupational activities, as well as being a loving, patient mother. This played a large part in his recovery along with the ICU unit in Wolfson Hospital. It is also a delight to see his mother interacting with the other four families in our home. 

Baran does have a residual small opening in one of his ventricles, but the doctors have decided to leave this defect for now to give him more time for recovery generally (that is, to grow stronger). However, if there are any signs of negative changes, the doctors will admit him again for further treatment.

Zor Spas, Toda Raba, Thank You Very Much, Shookran

Posted on Sun, 10/11/2015 - 22:32 by Ruth Zellweger

The last two weeks have not been easy for Baran's young mother. Faithfully, she attended to her son's needs, but emotionally, she was struggling.

This evening, during our community dinner I received a phone call from her. I didn't answer right away, as I was tired and didn't feel that I had much to offer. But after she rang a third time, I answered the call, and I am so glad I did! The overjoyed young mother just wanted to share the good news that Baran had been moved to the children's ward - after more than two months in the ICU and Secondary ICU. 

I felt happy and ashamed at the same time. Ashamed, because I had not wanted to answer the phone. Happy, because Baran is making progress and because his mother wanted to share this joy with her Shevet family as soon as possible. Here at Shevet, we indeed become very close with the children and their mothers. God has blessed us with these special relationships, and I feel honored and very thankful for the trust and love that each family extends to us. 

Right away Baran's mother sent me some pictures from the children's ward, where she will spent this night with her beloved son.

I replied with a picture from me, telling her “Pirozbet!” which means “Congratulations!” in Kurdish. 

My conversation with her this evening finished with a big “Thank you,” which Baran's mother wrote in four different languages!

A big thank you to our heavenly Father, who shows so much grace to little Baran and his mother. And a special thank you to each of you, who so faithfully prays for this special mother - son - duo.

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for bretheren to dwell together in unity!"

Psalm 133

Tabernacling at Wolfson

Posted on Sun, 10/04/2015 - 21:56 by Deborah Burke

“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:5)

Today was a short working day with the last day of Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles) commencing at sundown. My co-worker, Jesse, and I drove to Wolfson to visit Baran and his sweet, patient, and enduring mother.

This was my last hospital visit for this time in Israel and was an emotional one for both me and Baran’s mother. Despite only meeting on a handful of occasions, we have formed a special bond.

Having not seen Baran for over a week, I was overjoyed to see him moving around a lot more, responding with those big brown eyes, and singing. His weight fluctuates, as does the opening and closing of his lung, but praise God, he is slowly improving.

I asked the nurse what are the best things that we can ask God to help Baran improve. She replied with a sweet smile that Baran needed to eat more. So, let us all join together in praying for Baran’s appetite to improve so that he will gain weight, gain strength, and – consequently – his lung will stay open.

Jesse, Baran’s mother, and I tabernacled together over lunch and cappuccinos. What a privilege for us to be family to these young mothers and their precious children in a strange land at such a time as this. Please pray for Baran’s mother to continue seeking the face of our Messiah to give her the strength and patience to endure until Baran is ready to return home. We left them with Baran peacefully sleeping after an adventurous day outside in the sunshine and playing some more with his mother.


Posted on Tue, 09/29/2015 - 22:04 by Jesse Tilman

Baran is continuing to heal in the intermediary ICU. His weight was down about a 100 grams today. Maureen did a great job getting him active and exercising.

It was probably the most I've seen him moving around on his own!

We had a problem with his lung collapsing again today. It was reopened, and he is doing okay again. We trust that with time the lung is strengthening and will be doing better in the future. Thank you for your prayers.

Playing and Praying

Posted on Thu, 09/24/2015 - 21:51 by Alexa Bigl

As Baran continues to be weaned off his sedation/pain medication, Methadone, he is becoming more and more playful. He is no longer content with just having someone by his side and is becoming more demanding of people’s complete attention. It is a wonderful change, allowing Baran to show off his adorable nine-month-old personality. As I was holding him today, he was very interested in checking out all of his surroundings and loved when the doctors and nurses came over to say hi to him.

He was not very impressed with his bath today and cried the whole time. Since Baran is still struggling to keep his left lung open constantly, crying is actually good for him. In small doses, so he doesn’t tire himself out too much, the extra deep and fast breathing crying demands can help his ventilation and give his lungs a good workout. The doctors are still happy with Baran’s progress and have full faith his lung will continue to heal as he grows in strength and size.

With a reported weight of 4.27kg today, we had reason to send prayers of thanks heavenwards. Before we left today, Rebekah prayed for both mothers currently at the hospital. Her prayer for God’s hand to be on Baran and Mom were so sweet and meaningful; it was very touching.