Diyar 's Heart Surgery


Drowsy After Catheterization

Posted on Wed, 12/05/2007 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel


I was surprised to find Diyar still in his hospital bed when I arrived today, since he was scheduled for a catheterization this morning. Because we were saying goodbye to Soz and her mother, I did not arrive at the hospital until after 11... but there was Diyar still in his room! When I asked the nurses if his cath was cancelled, they said no, but that the first child scheduled for the morning was taking an unusually long time in the cath lab. Both Diyar and his mother were anxiously waiting for his turn, but now understood the reason why he had not gone yet.

After visiting a little while, I went to the ICU to see Delir and his mother. When I found that I couldn't speak to the doctor there until he finished his rounds, I wanted to go back to see Diyar, but before I got to his room I saw the first child coming out of her catheterization. I knew that meant Diyar would have already been taken upstairs to have his turn. Next I decided to check on Rayan's progress when I saw him and his mother sitting in the "fish room" speaking with a doctor. After this was finished, I noticed that Aras and his mother had entered the room, and they told me that Diyar had just been wheeled past going back to his room. I seemed to miss his coming and going today!
Once in the room I found Diyar's thankful mother sitting by his bedside, and Diyar sleeping peacefully. He roused up when he heard my voice, and he said hello but immediately went back to sleep. His mother's first questions were about what the catheterization showed, and whether Diyar would be able to have another surgery. At the screening in Amman, the doctors made their decision to operate on Diyar on the basis of what the catheterization showed since it would reveal the extent of the problems, and the strategies for repairing them if it is possible. Therefore the news from them will be very important, and they are both anxious to find out their diagnosis. I went to the nurses with these questions, but they cannot tell us anything until after the medical staff meets tomorrow. Thursdays are the days the doctors discuss and update information about each child, and determine the surgery schedule for the coming week. We hope to know more tomorrow.
Please pray for Diyar and his mother while they wait. She remains very thankful for what is happening for her son, yet is very eager to know if he will be able to have the surgery he needs. Already God has brought him this far.... let us pray that the doctors are able to give Diyar's heart a full repair so he can go home healthy.

Reading Narnia in Arabic

Posted on Sun, 12/02/2007 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel


Today we took Aras and Dilshad from our house in Jerusalem to the hospital to have their preliminary examinations for determination of their readiness for surgery. This allowed us to visit first thing with Delir and Diyar who were together in the room nearest the ward's nurses' station. I had not seen them since Friday evening, and upon entering the room noticed that Diyar's skin tone seemed very blue today. He was his usual gentle self, and was spending his time playing a game on his mobile phone. I had promised to bring him a book to read before I left on Friday, and delivered him an Arabic copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which had been donated to us for the patients. He thanked me and immediately began reading.

When I was with them on Friday, I captured a short video of Diyar's kind nature as he played with little Delir in the bed beside him. They had invented a unique new game - ''hospital soccer ''- which delighted Delir and was fun for the adults to watch too. Even though he cannot play much with them, all of the younger boys look up to him already and enjoy his time and attention. They watch his activity and hang around his bed when they get a chance. He is like a big brother to the other boys, and they like that.
After returning to Diyar's room following Dilshad's echo, I was surprised to learn that he was to be dismissed to the Save A Child's Heart house for two days and would return on Tuesday before a catheterization on Wednesday. His mother was very distraught over this development and asked me why they were doing this when he was so tired, and so sick... not doing well. I could tell she felt the decision was not best for her son, and followed up on her request to speak to the nurses. They told me he would be OK at the Save A Child's Heart house, and it is near the hospital if he had a problem. When I told her these things, she would not be settled, and insisted that I call one of the other mothers who speaks English as well as Kurdi, so we could be sure we didn't misunderstand each other. She said that Diyar himself knew he was not doing well, and did not want to leave the hospital. It was then I realized that he was now squatting in the bed rather than sitting, a sign that he needed more oxygen to his lungs. By the look of desperation on his mother's face, and the pleading in her words, I felt it important to pay attention. I went back to the nurses' station to speak to a doctor, explaining what I was perceiving. To me, it seemed that Diyar was fearing that he might die if he didn't stay near immediate medical care. His mother, who knows her son well, understood this, and was doing all she could to convey the seriousness of the situation. After talking for a few minutes, the doctor said that Diyar would stay in the hospital. Diyar had already dressed to leave, and his bed had been reassigned, so he had to be relocated to another room - the one next door. At this point, I was asked to accompany Dilshad upstairs to the echo clinic, so left as they were moving Diyar next door.
When I came back downstairs about two hours later, Diyar was being given oxygen and an IV. I learned from his mother that he had gotten worse after I left, and they put him on oxygen, and found that he needed fluids as well. I am so thankful for his mother's persistence so that Diyar was in the hospital when this happened! He seemed very weak, and was resting. His little buddy Delir was in the chair beside him, and his mother said he misses Diyar as his roommate.
Before leaving them this afternoon, several of us prayed for Diyar there in his room. Please join us in fervent prayer for the life of this young man. I am thankful the doctors invited him and that he chose to come, as there was some hesitation about whether he would come at the beginning. I am thankful for his desire to live ... and the life that God has in mind for him as well.
Please pray that Diyar's body will strengthen as he rests before his catheterization on Wednesday. Pray for his mother who is so wonderfully perisitent on behalf of her son. Pray that the catheterization reveals the successful course of surgery for him so that his whole life is made new from this lifesaving experience.

Resting Tonight in Hospital in Israel

Posted on Thu, 11/29/2007 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

I am thankful and happy to report that today all four of Iraqi boys and their mothers who came to Amman in the past two days crossed over into Israel. Although they are tired, they are glad to have successfully passed through the border. The crossings are particularly stressful for the families because they are entering this land they've heard so much about as an "enemy" of their people. And indeed, security is very strict at the crossing points, and seems to be getting tighter. Yet God has allowed us to establish working relationships with the officials at the border terminals which helps make these journeys easier for everyone. The officers and passport control workers on each side are as comforting as they can be to the families while still maintaining the necessary professionalism and protocol which is required to fulfill their posts. However, I've noticed that until we completely finish the process and are in the van on the way to the hospital there is a tension hanging in the air. Today was no different, and was even a little heightened due to a taxi breakdown on the way to the border. We needed two taxis to transport everyone, so I arranged for my driver and his brother to drive us, and was very encouraged when we left Amman on time, and made very good time through the mountains down to the Jordan valley. We were in fact only minutes from the entry point to the Sheik Hussein bridge when the taxi carrying Delir, Dilshad, their mothers and me came to a stop. Right away the two drivers looked at the problem and knew it could not be easily fixed, so they determined to take us one group at a time to the crossing point, which meant the other group had to stay with our broken taxi. This made the mothers nervous - understandably so - and yet I knew they would be safe with my drivers, whom I depend on around Amman regularly. I have trusted these men with my own luggage when I had to spend hours in the embassy in Amman, so I knew they were trustworthy with this much more precious cargo. They have driven several of our patients to the border, and enjoy helping us, and seeing the children come back healed. Even though it could have been quite a challenge, there was so much to be thankful for as the delay was probably only about a half hour.

The rest of the process in Jordan went smoothly, although there is no way to cross quickly with nine people, eight of whom are from Iraq! While we waited for the bus which crosses the river, we used our time for a quick picnic.

In the Israeli terminal we had another delay, and it was one I did not anticipate. Because Diyar is 17 years old, he was taken aside and questioned as an adult. This was a bit intimidating for this gentle young man and his mother, but they maintained a calm demeanor through it all. I, on the other hand, became very concerned when I saw that he was pulled aside. I knew it was probably standard procedure, but the "advocate" in me rose up, wanting to protect and help. I approached the security authority and asked them if there was a problem, and they assured me there was not. They explained to me that the protocol was changing and would affect how we needed to handle crossing from now on, and this was part of the reason for the questioning. It was not a tense or unpleasant discussion, and again I thank God for established relationships, and the proof of it shown in the many many stamps in my passport from making these treks with children. Everyone was satisfied after this talk, and Diyar actually seemed to want to observe these men more closely as they continued to work in the terminal while our processing was finished. When I saw that he really was none the worse for it, and his mother seemed fine too, I was relieved. We exited the terminal and headed out to the van where my colleague Hank was waiting for us. Even after these several delays, we made it to the hospital by mid-afternoon, in time for the children's initial examinations.

On our way to the hospital I called the cardiologist Dr. Tamir to see where he wanted us to go with the children when we arrived. We discussed the seriousness of Delir's case, and he was also concerned that Diyar might need to be admitted right away. He felt that Aras and Dilshad could wait at our center in Jerusalem until Sunday and come them for their initial exams. We arrived to waiting film crews, which is another overwhelming part of crossing days. These people are not used to publicity, nor do they seek it, yet they find themselves in front of the lenses of very big cameras at a time when they already feel quite anxious and vulnerable. We try to act like they are not there so that the families too will not feel stressed over it - even while they have a fear from recognition of their whereabouts in their volatile homeland should the wrong people see this information.

Diyar had an echo by cardiologist Dr. Tamir, and Dr. Katz did a second blood pulse oximeter and decided based on the results to admit him. It was the first time I saw Diyar really react to the situation beyond his polite and courageous attitude so far. I noticed his eyes fill with tears as they put the hospital bracelet on his arm. His mother's reaction was to give me a kiss of gratitude for the help for her son. Please pray for Diyar as he undergoes this life-saving and life-changing surgery.


Shy Yet Confident, Diyar Arrives in Jordan

Posted on Tue, 11/27/2007 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel


Tonight Jody and I went to the airport to meet the newest group of Iraqi children and parents who will go to Israel for heart surgery, after they were identified as operable at the echocardiogram screening last month. This group includes 17-year-old Diyar (in the black jacket),five-year-old Dilshad, and two-year-old Delir. It took over an hour for them to clear customs and security, and then we saw them coming into the terminal where we greeted each other with big smiles, handshakes and traditional kisses hello. Although we had taken name cards in Arabic so they would be sure to find us, we found we didn't need them, as we all recognized each other immediately. I knew just who to look for after seeing their faces regularly on their passport pictures needed for their travel visas. It is a blessing to have them here now--those for whom we are laboring and praying.

Before we saw Diyar this evening, he had called our friend back in Iraq to let him know they'd arrived safely, and wanted us to call him. Once we had his Jordan phone number, we gave him a call, and found that all was well and they were going through security on the floor above us. When they were done, Diyar walked confidently out of the gate area in the terminal and came straight over to shake mine and Jody's hands. It seems to me that his trip to the echo screening last month stood him in good stead as an international traveler, and he feels he "knows the ropes" now. Before we got outside, his cell phone rang, and he talked with his family at home most of the way to the van. I noticed though that the rest of the time he was rather silent, as he, like Dilshad, is somewhat shy. After learning that he can read Arabic, I hope to give him a book or two which will help entertain him, since he won't be able to spend all of his time talking to family long-distance!
When we arrived at the apartment, we found that the new gas bottles had not been connected to the heaters, and he immediately began helping the other men with the task. Jody noticed as he worked that he seemed to be quite a handyman. After dinner when the three men returned from a short walk to the supermarket, I noticed how much out of breath Diyar was due to his heart condition.

I'm thankful that this young man gets the opportunity for a new life with this surgery. His mother seems very encouraged, and as we talked about the coming days and our likely travel plans, she continuously interjected "Allah kareem", meaning "God is generous." It is obvious she feels deep gratitude for the 17 years she has had with her son, when so many others would have died before reaching his age. She is thankful for all that everyone has done and is doing to get them to Israel, and for the doctors who will perform the life-saving surgery which must surely be what she has dreamed of for her boy--now a young man.

Please pray that Diyar's heart is indeed made new when he is in Israel for this much-needed surgery. Pray for courage for both him and his mother. I imagine they are feeling both great joy for this chance, mingled with trepidation over the reality of going through the experience ahead. Unlike the younger children, Diyar fully understands the seriousness of what is about to happen, so he will need to have extra courage to face what is on the horizon for him.

Let's cover him with prayer. I look forward to seeing the answers as I get to know this young man.