Darbaz's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

The Call to Love

Posted on Thu, 07/18/2013 - 22:48 by Sarah Powell

We entered Darbaz's room yesterday to find a proud and joyful mother looking after her son. She greeted us enthusiastically and declared that Darbaz is “zor xosha!” (very good!). Darbaz was obviously tired, but he had enough energy to smile at us warmly. When I pulled out my bottle of bubbles and asked if he liked bubbles, he excitedly pulled off the oxygen mask that was over his face, wanting to blow bubbles. I laughed and told him that he was not finished with the oxygen yet and I would blow the bubbles for him. He agreed and pulled the mask back on, watching happily as I blew bubbles into his face. He and his mother were both in pretty good spirits, considering their situation. I was very glad to see Darbaz smiling, but when I asked his mother how she was doing, she exclaimed that she was not well. Her arms were hurting, her back was hurting, everything was hurting!

I almost wanted to giggle at these exclamations at first. Here was her son, who had just gone through a major and complicated heart surgery and had all kinds of tubes protruding from his chest and body, but he was not complaining about how horrible he felt. She was. However, as I sat with them longer, I had to take back those feelings of amusement. When the nurse brought Darbaz some apple slices to eat, his mother painstakingly peeled each slice and cut it into bite-size pieces with her little plastic knife. Then she fed the pieces to her son one at a time, and every time he asked for water, she filled up the little syringe and gently squirted it into his mouth. Watching her care for Darbaz, I realized for the first time that these surgeries are often just as traumatic and painful for the mothers as they are for the children. The work that the mothers put into caring for their children throughout the whole process must be nearly as exhausting as going through the actual heart surgery. Often I have come to the hospital thinking that I was going to cheer up the children, but today I realized that the mothers are in need of just as much love and encouragement as the children. Their job is a difficult and exhausting one.

Watching these mothers lay down their lives for their children, putting aside their own comforts and desires, reminded me of the words of Messiah in John 15:13 – “Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for his friends.” Today, I was struck with the immensity of the calling we have all received, the call to love. Watching the way these mothers sacrifice their lives for their children during these difficult times has helped to challenge me to examine my own life. When I say that I love my brother and my sister, am I really willing to lay down my life to serve them the way that these mothers are serving their children – or the way that Messiah laid down His life to serve you and me? I pray that God would give all of us grace to serve one another so selflessly.

Thank God that Darbaz is doing so well and that he has a mother who is so willing to give up her own comforts for his sake.

Daniella adds this update from today:

While we were at Sheba Hospital today we were able to check in with Darbaz. The good news is that he was moved to secondary ICU. Though he did seem tired and was not interacting with us as much as he usually does. And the only pain he mentioned was stiffness in his arms and legs, but that is usually normal after surgery. He should be having his next echocardiogram tomorrow, so we will know more about his healing process then. Overall, he is doing well and we are excited to see him full of energy and back on his feet soon. Please pray with us Be for Darbaz’s health and wellness, and that it will be an easy and fast healing process.

Darbaz's Big Day

Posted on Tue, 07/16/2013 - 23:03 by Daniella Ashley

Today was the big day for Darbaz and his mother: Darbaz finally had his first open heart surgery. Kristina, Susan and I left the house a little after 6 AM and headed to Sheba. When we arrived, both Darbaz and his mother were up and awake. They had bathed Darbaz and were in the process of getting him ready. Both were happy to see us and I think it gave them some relief knowing that they had support.

One of the classic things to do to entertain children while in the hospital is to blow up the gloves to make balloons. While we waited today, we made of game of it and hit it to each other around the room. Even Darbaz’s mom participated. However, this game only lasted a short while.

Once everything was finalized with his doctors, Darbaz was ready to go into the operating room at 8 AM. This was slightly unexpected as we had anticipated it being a long say since the doctor had originally said that the surgery would not be done until four or five in the afternoon.

When Darbaz’s mother came out of the surgery room she started to cry and Kristina was able to comfort and encourage her in Kurdish. While in the waiting room she would pray, look at her watch multiple times, and let us know when an hour had passed. She would be calm but then at times she had to walk around or get affirmation that everything was going smoothly. Spending time with the Kurdish mothers has shown me a lot about hospitality and generosity. For instance, even though she is fasting for Ramadan, Darbaz’s mother kept on asking us if we wanted to go eat around noon, and even persisted that we needed to go eat. This day was for her and Darbaz and she was concerned about us even in the midst of it.

Around four hours into the surgery, Darbaz’s mother kept wanting Kristina to ask if everything was going well. To our surprise one of the nurses said yes, and that they should be finished in twenty minutes. This shocked all of us because that wasn’t something we were expecting to hear. Once Darbaz’s mother was given the news she was so full of joy and had the biggest smile on her face. She gave all of us hugs and did not hide her enthusiasm. Something she kept repeating was “supas bo Xua” or “thanks be to God.” I really enjoyed being in the room at this particular time. She kept saying that she was thankful for us sitting with her, and Kristina told her that she was a sister to us. She responded by saying that we were much more than that. Also, she was more talkative and comfortable in sharing stories with us than I have ever seen her. She began telling us how Darbaz cried that morning, and that when she asked him if it was because he was scared, his answer was no. He was really crying simply because he wanted some tea. I felt like this really represents his personality.

Once Darbaz was wheeled out of the operating room into the ICU, it took a while until she was able to see him. I feel like this time was the most anxious I’ve seen her. She knew the surgery was finished, but to keep herself occupied until she could see him, she would slowly make her way towards the door of his room even though she was told she could not come in yet. But eventually, she was able to sit by him and be in his presence.

This experience has shown me the real love between parents and children, and the strength it takes for parents to be willing to go through all that is necessary in order to give their child a better life. Today was long, busy and full of emotions, both good and bad. But when looking back on this specific time down the road, I think the joy and blessings this time has brought - for Darbaz, his mother, and all of us here with them - is what will come to mind.

Cool and Confident for Surgery Tomorrow

Posted on Mon, 07/15/2013 - 23:10 by Susan Kent

Early this morning we received the long awaited call from Sheba hospital- they were ready to admit Darbaz for his heart surgery! Joy and relief filled his mother's face as Darbaz hopped around the courtyard prior to our departure. All the staff circled mother and son as Kristina thanked the Lord in Kurdish for bringing Darbaz to Israel, for the doctors who will perform the surgery and for a smooth recovery. We had a sweet ride to the hospital with Darbaz happily chattering with his mother in the back seat.

As Kristina checked him in, Darbaz excitedly posed for pictures and melted his mother's heart when he insisted she join him. She dotes and spoils her adorable eight-year-old boy who we learned is the youngest of ten children. Darbaz is also an uncle to ten nieces and nephews!

While the Sheba staff prepared his room in ICU, Darbaz ate a hearty lunch and patiently tried to teach me the Kurdish words for "monkey," "tiger," and "giraffe" from the pages he sat and colored.

As Kristina and I prepared to leave, the nurses came in to start his IV and draw some blood. Darbaz hardly flinched through the brief procedure, showing quite proudly how strong and brave he was. But he quickly reverted back to a shy little boy as Kristina showered him with praise while reminding him of how much he is loved - by many others and especially by God. We are so grateful that Darbaz will finally have his heart surgery tomorrow. Please pray with us that the Lord would give the doctors wisdom and guide their hands throughout the complex procedure. Also, please pray for divine comfort and peace for his mother.

Love Made Known

Posted on Thu, 07/11/2013 - 23:35 by Daniella Ashley

Both mothers of Darbaz and Rayan are grateful now that their sons have begun their much anticipated medical procedures. Today was a hopeful day as Susan, Ruth and I had an early start at Sheba at 8 a.m. Once we got there Darbaz seemed happy to see us, flashing a big smile and looking a little bashful. It’s as if Darbaz has two sides to him. He can be quiet and come off as shy, but he can also be ornery and stand up to anyone who he feels is in his way.

Initially Rayan was scheduled to have his catheterization first, but he wasn’t ready in time, so Darbaz was submitted instead. Darbaz handled this change very well. Since he is at the age of knowing and being aware of what is going on, it surprised me that he did not cry or show any signs of fear.

Overall, the procedure took about an hour and a half for it to be completed. I was sitting with his mother for the majority of the time. I could tell she was anxious. She kept getting up and sitting down, always moving herself about. She would take time to pray under her breath, and I did not see her without her prayer beads the entire time. Ruth would also come and comfort her to make sure she was ok.

Once Darbaz was out of the operating room, we could all see the peace and relief that his mother had. She would look at the monitors to make sure everything seemed okay, and she would detangle the wires around her son. She would also make sure his feet and body were covered, and make him as comfortable as possible.

When the anesthesia wore off, Darbaz began to wake up.  When he was conscious all he would say was “au,” which means water, and his mom would smile and laugh saying “nia,” or no. Darbaz was still on anesthesia so they had to wait a while before he was allowed to drink liquids.

At random moments Darbaz’s mother would briefly give thanks, and I could see how much she loved her son. Darbaz had a good attitude when we asked how he was. He always answered, “bash,” with a smile, which means “good.” Now that Darbaz’s catheterization had a successful finish, we can give thanks for how well it went. We can also be praying for what’s ahead, and for the next step in Darbaz’s healing.

A Heart Being Made Well

Posted on Thu, 07/11/2013 - 10:29 by Sarah Powell

When Kristina came upstairs yesterday afternoon to tell Darbaz and Rayan's mothers that the hospital had called to admit them both for catheterizations, I was upstairs playing with the children. It was wonderful to see the joy that suddenly bubbled up in both mothers, and Darbaz's own smile stretched from ear to ear as he realized what was about to happen. Once the mothers had packed their things, we all gathered downstairs to pray for them before they left. When we arrived at the hospital, Darbaz and his mother were clearly impressed by it’s size and beauty. Before the boys were admitted, we were able to stop and gaze at the big fish swimming around in the aquarium and play in the children's play area for a little while. Darbaz's mom was so impressed with everything that she wanted pictures of Darbaz with all of it. I looked on, amused, as Darbaz willingly posed for pictures in front of the fish tank, on the pirate ship in the play area, crawling through tunnels, and sitting on the giant fake turtles. I think these moments of fun in the hospital helped everyone to relax before we arrived at the children's ward.

Darbaz was very excited when he realized, upon entering their room, that he had his very own bed in the children's ward. However, after finding that his mom's bed was made out of a chair that folded out, he declared that her bed was better than his. His was just a bed, not a chair that secretly doubled as a bed. After Kristina gave the mothers a quick tour of their section of the hospital, the nurses came in to do the initial check-ups.

I was very impressed at Darbaz's bravery. Throughout the whole process, his ear-to-ear grin never left his face, and he giggled at the cold touch of the stethoscope and the tickling of the thermometer in his armpit. When his own check-up was finished, he excitedly stood behind Rayan's bed as he got his check-up. Throughout the whole process, Darbaz shot me little knowing looks, showing that he was sharing in all of our amusement at Rayan's excitement to copy everything he had gotten to do.

By the end of my time at the hospital, I was fondly watching Darbaz's mother smother him with hugs and kisses. His mother often comes across as being very hard and tough, but in that moment, I saw her loving mother's heart – overjoyed at that fact that her little boy's heart will soon be made well.

When the nurses were asking questions about Darbaz and his family's medical history during the initial assessments, I learned that Darbaz was the last born of ten children. Watching this mother and son interact, I was amazed that his mother was able to show such love for him after having loved nine other children before him. Then I thought of our heavenly Father, who is somehow able to love each one of us, though He has also loved everyone who came before us and will love everyone who comes after us. It's incredible to me that it is possible for anyone to have enough love to do that. But looking at the way that He cares for and blesses each of us – me, you, these hurting children – I have no choice but to believe that the love that He declares for us is indeed true. Surely God is love. 

First Observations, First Assessments

Posted on Sun, 06/23/2013 - 22:21 by Ruth Zellweger

Last Thursday afternoon, lively Darbaz and his mother entered Israel after they had spent one night in Jordan. Together with other Shevet volunteers, I went to the parking lot to greet our new arrivals. Darbaz climbed out of the van and without fear shook our hands, and then helped his mother with the luggage.

Darbaz was born as the ninth and last child to his parents, and it is obvious that he is loved and cared for very much. He and his mother had two days to settle in and make themselves comfortable around the house. In these two days we got to know Darbaz better. He can be quite mischievous, and we often needs patience and steadfastness while interacting with him. Darbaz loves playing with toys and often asks for more. Today he had the opportunity to explore a whole new playing area at Sheba Hospital, as we went for his first assessments. The waiting area was full with children and Darbaz, his little friend Rayan, and Philip soon could be seen all over the place, playing with the different and colorful toys that were available there. After a while the main nurse called us into her room and took Darbaz’s basic information, medical history and vital signs. One of the first things she observed was how slim Darbaz was. His mother reported that he has not been eating well, only wanting little bits of food at a time. The nurse expressed her hope that after his open heart surgery, Darbaz would start to gain weight. Next, an EKG was ordered which then was followed by the main part of today’s assessments: the echocardiogram. The echo technician and the cardiologist both examined his heart carefully while Darbaz’s mother watched intently. She had come all the way to Israel to find help for her son, and now she was anxious to hear what the doctor had to say.

Dr. Danieli confirmed what we had already expected: Darbaz will need a catheterization before his open heart surgery. But because the catheterization schedule is quite full for the next coming weeks, he could not give us an exact date as to when the procedure will take place. But Dr. Danielei hopes that Darbaz will be on the schedule after this week.

After we all ate lunch and got to spend some time with Shana and her mother, we went back to Jerusalem. Now, a period of waiting has begun for Darbaz and especially for his mother. We pray for patience for them and that God will use their time in Israel for His glory.

Help for Darbaz Within Reach

Posted on Tue, 06/04/2013 - 14:06 by Kelsey Cannon

Eight-year-old Darbaz is the youngest of ten children. And he