Dawod's Heart Surgery

Northern Iraq

Back on Prophets Street

Posted on Fri, 08/01/2014 - 02:41 by Matylda Temkin

Dawod is back again with us on Prophets Street in Jerusalem. What is more, in a two weeks time, Lord willing, he will have his final operation! What seemed impossible in the onset, turns out to be an observable reality; contrary to the first assumptions of Israeli doctors, Dawod can be healed. Praise the Lord for His goodness! 

When I met him today I was surprised by his patience and calmness. Though recovering from his fourth cathaterization (he is walking slowly because of wound in his groins) and having spent exactly 4 months in Israel far from his home, he looked peaceful. His mum was also a strong example of collected calmness all the day through. I went with him to the hospital playroom because he wanted to play some computer races.

To my amazement, he did not want to be the only person playing, but invited me to participate in the game as well. One easily notices the same sharing attitude whoever he is around; he takes a deep interest in caring for other children and trying to make them smile.

I thank God, and am sure I can see Him smile upon the little face of Dawod. May his last two weeks here pass smoothly, for him and his mum both. And, may the operation bring complete healing and be free of obstacles as they journey home. 

Beautiful Things

Posted on Wed, 07/30/2014 - 21:50 by Sarah Powell

There is a song by Gungor that was stuck in my head all day today – “You Make Beautiful Things.” One part of the song says:

All around, hope is springing up from this old ground.

Out of chaos, life is being found in You.

You make beautiful things.

You make beautiful things out of the dust.

You make beautiful things.

You make beautiful things out of us.  

Dawod's life is a beautiful thing. When Ruth and I arrived at the hospital this morning, he was not in his room; he was already in the playroom. When we made our way to the playroom to see him, he greeted us exuberantly and then introduced us to the woman who looks after the kids in the playroom, saying, “She's my friend!”

Everyone is Dawod's friend. We had to wait some time for Dawod to be called in for his catheterization because his was the second cath on the schedule today. However, when he finally was called in and the nurse started to push him through the hallways on his bed, most of the nurses and doctors we passed knew Dawod and gave him their best wishes as he rolled past them.

As he was rolled into the cath waiting room, with his mother, Ruth, and I trailing behind, he told us that for all three of his previous caths he was not afraid, but this time he felt nervous for some reason. It probably did not help that the child who was having his cath finished up while we waited was screaming as he began to wake from the effects of anesthesia.

Dawod was obviously trying to be brave, but every once in a while I would catch him staring at the door to the cath room with eyes full of worry. At one point, Dr. Tamir came in and, just like so many others, greeted Dawod with warm recognition. He also saw the worry in Dawod's eyes and calmly reassured Dawod that there was no reason to be afraid. After the doctor left, Dawod smiled at us and said, “That doctor is so wonderful!”, and his mother agreed.

Ruth and I also nodded our agreement, and I could not help but think what a beautiful God we have, who makes such beautiful things – like friendships between Israeli doctors and Kurdish children.

After we had given high-fives and waved our farewells to Dawod, he finally entered the cath room.

Then we made our way with Dawod's mother back to the children's ward where other families awaited us. The love and support that these families give to each other during these times is also a beautiful thing, a gift from God's hand. Each of these fathers and mothers asks after the other children and rejoices with the other parents over successes. And I think that in sharing each other's joys and burdens, the loads they carry become lighter.

As we waited for Dawod's cath to be finished, we ate some lunch, and while we were at it, we picked up a plate of rice and chicken for Dawod. (He always wants rice and chicken after he has a cath and has been fasting all day.) A little more than two hours later, Dawod was wheeled out of the cath lab and back to the children's ward. A half-hour after that he was completely awake and even waved Ruth and I goodbye as we left.

Those lines from Gungor's song – Hope is springing up from this old ground. Out of chaos, life is being found in You – make me think of Dawod and his mother. For thirteen years of his life, Dawod lived with a heart defect that kept him from being very physically active, stunted his growth, and caused him to fall several years behind in school. One surgery and four catheterizations later, he will soon be returning home to that old ground that he grew up walking across for thirteen years. This time, though, there will be hope springing up from that old ground. Dawod has a changed heart. In the midst of the chaos that fills Israel right now, in spite of the chaos that fills Iraq and threatens Dawod's homeland right now, God is still bringing about new life; life is being found in Him. And it is a beautiful thing.

Joyful Presence

Posted on Tue, 07/29/2014 - 20:37 by

Today, Dawod was admitted to Wolfson Medical Center for his catheterization tomorrow morning. The report back to Shevet from the hospital shows the procedure went smoothly, and Dawod’s mother is very happy. In the time leading up to his admission, Dawod and his mother waited patiently at the Shevet Achim house in Jerusalem for weeks on end. As the family endured through this time of long suffering, they were reminded that their patience would bear fruit in God's timing. During this season at Shevet Achim, our staff has been truly blessed by Dawod.

His joyful spirit lights up any room he walks into, and he is always lending a helping hand. Often times, you can find Dawod setting the dinner table with staff members, playing with and entertaining the younger children, as well as taking time to intentionally learn and practice English. Dawod is a precious boy who loves to communicate with everyone. He will go the extra mile to speak English or Arabic in order to speak with all people. The progress of Dawod's heart surgeries has come light years since first coming to Shevet Achim, and although we are excited to send him back to his home, his presence here will be missed. The Shevet Achim family will be soaking up their time with Dawod and his mother as much as possible before it is time to send them home.

A Season of Waiting

Posted on Thu, 07/03/2014 - 19:27 by Ruth Zellweger

After the evaluation of yesterday's catheterization, the cardiologists came to the conclusion that Dawod is ready for the final repair of his heart, which involves closing the hole between the two ventricles of his heart. However, due to a very full surgery schedule, they could not give us a date for his surgery. We assume that it will probably be at least two weeks of waiting until a date is set. This news was very upsetting for Dawod's mother. She and Dawod are now back with us on Prophets Street. At the moment, we have several families waiting for surgery or the clearance to return home, and they are increasingly discouraged. Please pray with us for a spirit of peace and joy in our house during this time of waiting.

Three Caths and Counting

Posted on Wed, 07/02/2014 - 20:15 by Leanne Rogerson

Dawod is sitting on his bed, patiently awaiting his third catheterization, when Ruth and I walk in his room, still smiling and talking. Today’s cath is a diagnostic procedure, a chance for the doctors to go in and see how Dawod's heart is recovering, an opportunity to measure the pulmonary artery pressure and to determine his future treatment options. The only thing on Dawod's mind, like every other teenage boy, is when is he going to eat next. He’s already hungry, for his last meal was yesterday evening. Soon, though, he heads into the cath lab, and Ruth and I sit with his mom, who waits patiently but longingly for the next piece of news and the chance to know her son has come through the procedure okay.

A couple of hours later, the test is complete. Tomorrow, we will learn the results of today’s test, as the team of doctors taking care of Dawod will discuss his recovery and when to do the next surgery to complete a full repair of his heart – whether it is to be scheduled soon or held off for a little while longer. Please pray for wisdom for the medical team.

After the cath, Dawod's mom sits beside him as he wakes up, and she learns that today is not the completion of his treatment but that there is further treatment and healing time still to come for her son. Her own heart is torn between the prospect of staying a few more weeks and her desire and longing to return home to be reunited with her other children – children she has not seen for many weeks. And phone calls home are just not a replacement for tending to their needs. That is a hard place for a mother to be. Please pray for Dawod’s mother, for strength, courage, and peace as she comes to terms with the possibility of staying a few more weeks in Jerusalem and further separation from her family at home.

By the time we left the hospital, Dawod was awake and happily eating his favorite meal: chicken and rice. He should be able to return to Shevet sometime tomorrow.

Silent Bravery

Posted on Tue, 07/01/2014 - 20:02 by Nick Boyum

Today Dawod was admitted for his catheterization, which is scheduled for tomorrow. The waiting was long today, however he and his mother both waited patiently and with endurance.

When the time came for his evaluation and blood draw, and Dawod went white. He is a very brave little boy, but I cannot blame him for being afraid of the needles. I stood and watched the nurses diligently prod around with the needle for his vein, first in his left wrist, then his right, and finally locating one on the top of his hand. Although it hurt and his eyes welled up with tears, he held still and endured the pain.

Although he was noticeably shaken afterward, his bravery still showed in his dark eyes. As I waved goodbye, they both smiled and bid me farewell with cheer. Join us in prayer as Dawod has his cath. operation tomorrow morning, imploring of the Lord his complete healing and his protecting hand in the operating room.

His Healing Work

Posted on Mon, 06/23/2014 - 19:42 by Jesse Tilman

Dawod’s mother was a bit nervous before his echo today as we drove down the hills to Tel Aviv. She punctuated her speech with many “Lord-willings” and “long-lives.” Only Dawod was going to the hospital for screening today; all our other children had recently gone back to Prophets Street, so it was just us at Wolfson hospital.

The echo department was full of medical students who were sitting in as our doctor talked through the process with them. She mentioned that the blood flow through his VSD hole in the heart was moving in the desired left to right direction. Also the condition of his pulmonary artery is on track for his upcoming procedures. We thanked the Lord for His healing work! Dawod is set to return next week for a catheterization on Wednesday. Dr. Alona said to keep his medications where they are for now, and be glad with the rapid healing is taking place.

On the way home we stopped by a dinosaur park and looked at the many life-size creations.

With many “oohs” and “woahs”, our young friend raced around the statues and asked for pictures with them. Enjoying life with Dawod is a reminder of the many blessings God gives us everyday! His mother also let the sun’s warmth breathe some life into her as we walked. I believe we headed home with hearts full of hope.


The Champion Fighter

Posted on Tue, 06/17/2014 - 21:13 by Kirsten Perow

One could imagine how easy it would be to give up or, at the very least, have a down-cast spirit after experiencing some of the events Dawod has lived through; however, despite his continual health trials, this young man prevails with a winning attitude. Dawod is small in size, but he has such a big and sweet heart. Today, after staying the night at Wolfson for observation of his persistent cough, the nurse informed us that Dawod most likely has pneumonia, but he is being treated with antibiotics and was free to come back to Shevet this afternoon! While I was visiting with the mother of another child in the hospital, a smiling Dawod spotted me and gave me an energetic wave and high-five.

As Dawod waited patiently for us to wrap up the visitations of the other children, he persuaded me to take off my shoes and join him in one of the hospital’s play areas. He and I took turns teaching each other what a certain animal was called in English and then Kurdish. It gave his mother and several waiting families a good laugh.

Afterward, Rahel, Lilian, Dawod, his mother, and I ventured to another of Tel Aviv’s hospitals, Sheba, to see little Aram. Upon entering the hospital and seeing the vast amount of magnificent play structures, Dawod’s reaction was sincerely priceless. The kid looked like he had stumbled into Disney Land! Since Dawod discovered I could easily be coaxed into playing with him, he and I explored the waiting area and took pictures. It is one of the best sights to see Dawood enjoy himself and play like the kid he is. Because Dawod has had to go through so many difficult situations, he often seems aged beyond his years. While he was playing, I had this glimpse of how pleased God is with us, His children, and how much, I believe, He loves seeing us playful and alive. I am so thankful for my friend, Dawod, and how he serves as a reminder for me to live life with a playful outlook. Thank you for your constant prayers for Dawod’s health and spirit!

Cheerful Against All Odds

Posted on Mon, 06/16/2014 - 23:14 by Ruth Zellweger

Dawod is a fine young man, and today’s events confirmed it once more. He arrived around noon at Wolfson Hospital for another follow-up echocardiogram of his heart. Before he headed to the echo department, we went to get his file at the nurses’ station. There he had a blood test done and the doctor listened to his lungs.

Dawod’s cough, which he already had at his discharge from the hospital, has not gotten better over the past ten days. The doctor suspected fluid in his lungs, and sent him to the echo. Sophie and Jesse accompanied him to the echo. The result was that he has no extra fluid around his heart or lungs, and that he would be admitted to investigate the source of his persistent cough. After I had heard the news, I was wondering how Dawod and his mother had taken this. I met them in the playground area of the ward, chatting with all the other Kurdish families whom are in the hospital right now. 

Instead of being disappointed or angry, they accepted this change of plan without any problem. Dawod only regretted not being in Jerusalem that evening for the birthday party of his dear friend Sarah, but we both came up with a good plan and recorded a video message just for her. After Dawod had a chest x-ray, we bid our farewell to him and his mother. They are extremely gracious and cheerful and such a blessing in our lives. Please pray with us that the doctors will detect the cause of his persistent cough and that it can be treated soon. 

Spirit and Soul

Posted on Mon, 06/09/2014 - 22:47 by Philip Rasmussen

Today was Dawod’s first echo since he was released from the hospital last week. Both Dawod and mother had great hopes to receive good news. On the drive to the hospital, I asked Dawod what would be the best news he could get. His answer; “That everything will be 100% perfect and I can go back to Kurdistan”. This answer probably reflects the great state of recovery that Dawod has been blessed by, but we all knew that there were still obstacles ahead. After the latest operation the doctors said that he might only need a catheterization to repair what is necessary, however Dawod and his mother were told on their first echo that he might need two operations and several caths.

Thus the result of today’s echo still came as a little shock. The doctors wanted to do a cath procedure in two weeks time. The results of this procedure will decide whether Dawod will be able to get his second surgery right away, or if he is better suited returning in six months time for his final procedure.

Dawod has been with us for more than two months, and the long waiting times between his hospital visits have left them rather demoralized. Dawod’s mother said that she would not be able to come back for another surgery – most of all her "spirit and soul are worn out" in her own words, words that resonated through the hospital hallways. I am thankful that Dawod and his mother possess a very calm nature. We have seen it over and over again and time is going to work for their good. By the end of the day they seemed to be more understandable and focused. Please pray alongside us for patient spirits and for the Lord’s favor on Dawod. As all of the pictures in this blog prove, Dawod has a loving and winning character. Patients from all kinds of backgrounds and medical staff recognized Dawod’s quiet but noticeable presence.

Finally, tonight Dawod’s best buddy Ben, (co-worker here at Shevet) left Prophet’s Street for the States.

The two of them have really bonded beautifully, and Dawod was not afraid to show his appreciation, kisses, and big words as a part of their goodbye. It’s evident to all of us here at Shevet that Dawod has a special open heart, ready to receive and give love. Please pray for us as well to respond to Dawod’s openness and be vessels of God’s impacting love!