Dyako's Heart Surgery

Northern Iraq

By His Grace

Posted on Sun, 06/14/2015 - 15:06 by Ruth Zellweger

During their time in Israel, little Dyako and his sweet mother have become very dear to me. I was looking forward to visit them in their home. We had brought a special gift, one of our Shevet calendars, which features the two of them a few times. The evening before, I called to announce our visit and the next morning Sophie, Konrad, Jonathan and I went to their house in a city that is known for its violence.

The reunion with Dyako's mother was sweet. We had to share a lot about what had happened these past months and how everyone was doing at Shevet. It is amazing how much our families still feel connected with us, even though they are quite far away. It was during that time of sharing that we found out that Dyako currently lives with his older brother Daniel at his father's house. This meant that we could not see him unless we would go there after our visit, which we decided to do. But first we spent time with Dyako's mother and her family. I was glad to see that they hold together and support each other.

They served us a beautiful meal and we met several siblings of Dyako's mother. Her brother and brother-in-law serve with the Pershmerga, the Kurdish Army. Nowadays it is not unusual for each Kurdish family to have at least one member in the national army. One of Dyako's uncles brought out his gun and showed it around and then gave it to Konrad to pose for a picture. In our country, Germany, we do not often get to see weapons so close and so it was a little terrifying at first.

After several hours we went to meet with Dyako and his father. I was curious how Dyako was doing. His heart defect was quite complicated and he had to undergo two open heart surgeries during his time in Israel. He and his father welcomed us outside the house. Dyako has grown big and he looked very healthy. It also became clear that he is quite strong-willed. This little man knows what he wants. Again, we had the chance to meet the grandparents and an uncle of Dyako. We stayed approximately an hour before it was time to go. When we left, the whole family came outside to warmly bid us farewell.

God has been watching over Dyako since the very beginning. His grace is evident in this little boy. And we believe that this grace is also sufficient for Dyako's brother Daniel and his parents.

Dyako's New Heart: "Perfect!"

Posted on Sun, 07/06/2014 - 12:15 by Ruth Zellweger

This past Thursday was a special day in the lives of Dyako and his mother. Because his last surgery was only three weeks ago, Dr. Alona told us that she would only discharge Dyako to return to Kurdistan if everything looked great. Then, after a thorough examination of his heart, Efat, the echo technician, came out of the echo room with a satisfied expression on her face. She looked at me and said only one word: "Perfect!" Just by observing Efat's and Dr. Alona's joy that morning, it was obvious that Dyako's smooth healing has been extraordinary and should not be taken for granted.

From Dyako's birth until his discharge, Dyako's mother had been in constant worry of his life. She knew that her son urgently needed heart surgery, which was not available in her home country. By God's grace, Dyako was accepted at Wolfson Hospital to receive a life-saving heart surgery. So his mother left her older son and husband behind, and traveled with her precious baby to Israel.

After the first assessments, Dyako was hospitalized right away for observation. He almost did not survive his first heart surgery because of blood clots in the newly created shunt. But God lovingly kept His hands over this precious boy. The hospital provided excellent medical care, and Dyako improved so quickly that the cardiologists soon prepared to perform a second surgery for the final repair of his heart. And now, a little over three weeks later, Dyako is considered healthy enough to return to Kurdistan. What a miracle!

We celebrated Dyako's healed heart on Thursday evening with a going-away party. After singing some joyful songs, a few of us shared with the mother our thoughts, wishes, and memories and thanked her for her great help and encouragement during the past three months. She had become a beloved part of our community, a dear sister, and friend, who helped us out in many different ways. And then she and Dyako received a bag with gifts, which included several toys, clothes, and a beautifully handmade quilt.

The highlight of that evening was a slideshow video with pictures from Dyako's time in Israel. By seeing once more how bluish and sick Dyako looked when he first arrived, compared to how healthy and rosy he was after his surgeries, our hearts were filled with great thankfulness towards our Heavenly Father. He puts a high value on each individual life!

The next morning we gathered in our courtyard to send Dyako and his mother off on their long-anticipated journey home. One final time we gathered in a circle, held hands, and prayed for this lovely mother-son duo that has so impacted and enriched our lives in such a unique way. We entrusted them into the hands of God, said our last goodbyes, and waved them off.

They are returning to an area in Kurdistan where there is political unrest and much instability; may the peace of God be their constant companion. We thank all of our friends for their faithful intercession for Dyako and his mother.

"Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion."  Psalm 103:2-4

The Final Echo!

Posted on Thu, 07/03/2014 - 19:43 by Kirsten Perow

A whirlwind of nervousness and excitement swirled around as today’s events proceeded. Today’s echo for Dyako was very important because its results determined whether his heart is well enough for he and his mother to travel back home to Northern Iraq. Dyako was a perfect little boy during the echo. The doctor performing the echo said she could not believe that the pink and happy little boy she was examining was the same Dyako she had first encountered.

The doctor had taken a picture of Dyako when he first arrived, and Dyako has indeed changed from the cantankerous, blackish-blue baby he once was to a healthy, delightful child. As anticipation lingered in the air, Dyako’s doctor announced that he is healing beautifully and is free to return home with his mother! Dyako’s mother has been smiling ever since. Now, tonight, we celebrate! Thank you for your prayers, friends!

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice!” (Philipians 4:4)

Precious Life

Posted on Thu, 06/26/2014 - 23:37 by Philip Rasmussen

Today Dyako was invited for an echo at Wolfson. This is only a little more than two weeks after he had his second surgery. We all, and especially the mother, see a big change in his behavior; he cries a lot less than before. He is still eating the same amount of food, but since the latest operation he does not simply throw it up again right away, but has actually gained a lot of weight.

The cardiologists were very surprised and excited by his growth and we all hope it will continue. He definitely has some catching up to do with some kilograms compared to other children without heart defects. Dyako does not like to have a scanner tool driving over his upper body, but with some milk and colorful cartoons he made it through the echo and it came out with good results. The doctors think he might only need one more echo before an official discharge, depending on how he reacts to the reduction in one of his medications.

All things considered, this is extraordinary news! Dyako has been with us for nearly three months, and has become a precious member at our base here. It is no secret though that the mother is eager to go back to her family and be a help to them in war-torn Iraq. On the way back to Jerusalem we paid our other little patient Aram at Sheba hospital a visit. We wanted Aram’s mother to have some time of fellowship with someone from her country, and Dyako’s mother has been a good friend to her. They were both happy to catch up on each other’s lives and their sons’ conditions.

Thankfulness filled us as we headed back to Prophets Street after a day of good gifts from above.

Coming Home

Posted on Thu, 06/19/2014 - 22:42 by Jesse Tilman

Thank the Lord we saw Diyako through a good echo today. Kirsten and I, along with Rojheen and her mother, filed through the ‘Wolfson process’ as I have decided to call it. He was quiet through most of the echo, but stared crying eventually.

His mother is an excellent caregiver and knew just what to do. Dr. Alona also suggested the use of some glucose water as a sweet treat to pacify. With a loving mom and some experienced nurses and doctors, the echo was brought to completion. They told us that he is doing very well and scheduled his next echo on the same day next week. Afterward, we headed over to the ward to have his stitches removed. Through the pain and fuss that ensued, the stitches were finally removed and Dyako pronounced ready to return to Jerusalem.

Finally, we headed out to a grassy area for a little rest before riding back with Ruth.

Oh, Happy Day!

Posted on Mon, 06/16/2014 - 23:54 by Sophie

Today was a wonderful day. l am so grateful that l had the chance to go to hospital. Dyako and his mother have been away from our Shevet family just one week, but it seems like a long time. When l saw them at the hospital today, Dyako's mother was so excited to tell me what has happened in Dyako's life. Before his surgery, Dyako used to cry a lot. Now, he rarely cries. He is smiling almost all the time, except when he is hungry or tired. Spending time with him and his mother, l found that it's true. After his surgery, he is a totally different person. It is really nice to see the relationship between him and his mother.

The good news we received today was that Dyako could come home with us. The joy on Dyako's mother's face could not be hidden. When we arrived to pick them up, they were already ready and waiting for us. However, they were still patient as we waited for everything to be put in order so that they could leave.

On the way back, Dyako was playing by himself in the van. Later, he fell asleep peacefully. What a precious baby he is! Please keep praying for him, that God would take care of him both physically and spiritually.

Coming Home Soon

Posted on Sun, 06/15/2014 - 21:47 by Ruth Zellweger
What a wonderful surprise it was yesterday morning when I received a phone call from Dyako’s mother. She sounded very happy, and told me Dyako was going to be transferred to either Secondary ICU or the children’s ward soon. He was doing so well in fact, the doctors even allowed her to take him out to spend some time in the fresh air. She happily took advantage of this opportunity. When we entered the hospital today I peeked into the Secondary ICU, but could not see them there. Instead, they were asleep in the children’s ward. Dyako’s skin tone is stunning; he looks so beautiful and healthy!
Later, Dyako had another echocardiogram of his heart with the result that his heart is healing well and that the cardiologists considered discharging him either today or tomorrow. In the end they decided today would be too early. Dyako’s mother was still of good cheer, thankful that her son is doing so amazingly well after this big heart surgery only five days ago. Dyako started crying when a doctor took out the wires from the external pacemaker, but was comforted quickly by his loving mother.
Before we left the hospital in the afternoon we bid our farewell to mother and son. They both were resting, snuggling close together. We are looking forward to having them back with us in Jerusalem very soon. 
"Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion."  Psalm 103:2-4

Steady However Slow

Posted on Thu, 06/12/2014 - 22:47 by Jesse Tilman

We're glad to report good news today: Dyako has been extubated again following an echo exam that found him in perfect healing condition.

Dr. Alona performed the echo this morning and resolutely decided he was once again ready to breathe on his own, only one day after being re-intubated. Intubation is the where the patient is drugged to sleep and has a tube inserted into their throat with a machine that breathes for them. Dyako is most often sleeping on his own still, and his mother is continuing her vigil over the bed. When we talked with her outside the ICU, she told us she is fasting, and she seemed a bit down with a headache. However, she has a bed next to Rozheen and her mother so they keep each other company. Just talking through the days events was good for everyone as we sat around Rozheen’s bed. Dyako's mother knows a lot of english, so she has been doing very well at the hospital. We pray that her time there continues its steady, however slow, healing course for Dyako.

Praises and Prayers

Posted on Wed, 06/11/2014 - 22:33 by Philip Rasmussen

Liliane and I set out this morning on a beautiful summer day to see how Dyako was doing on his first day post-operation. This little boy went through a long surgery, and we hoped and prayed to find him in good condition. When we arrived at Wolfson we were met by Dyako’s smiling mother, who informed us that Dyako had been extubated this morning. Good news indeed! It was less than twenty-four hours after his surgery.

Liliane and the mother went into the ICU to see Dyako, and they came out again with rather heavy hearts. They were asked to leave the ICU as Dyako’s oxygen level was dropping rapidly. Different doctors were by his side to try to stabilize him. It was very difficult for Dyako’s mother to be asked to leave her son in that condition. For about an hour, she was not allowed back into the ICU and many thoughts started running through her head. At one point, Liliane, Dyako’s mother, and I found a quiet spot outdoors where we sat down and asked our heavenly Father to calm us down and cause Dyako’s fragile body to overcome this.

It felt good to turn our thoughts on God who has already done a miracle once before in Dyako’s life during a critical time following his first surgery. Somehow, I felt relieved and encouraged, and I wanted to see if we could now make it inside the ICU. In there, we received the news that Dyako is doing fine and is in a stable condition again. His mother's relief was apparent. His oxygen drop was most likely due to his being extubated too early. He is now intubated again and will probably stay like that for the next few days.

We have reasons to give praise to God for His protection and also reasons to keep praying for little Dyako as he is adjusting to these new physical changes. 

The Precious Beauty of Life

Posted on Wed, 06/11/2014 - 00:32 by Rahel Eschler

Today is the day that the Lord made to perform a miracle on Dyako. Very early this morning, I dragged myself out of bed, remembering the importance of this day. With a rush of excitement, I prepared myself to go inside the operating room to observe Dyako’s surgery later in the day. On the way to the hospital in the car, Ruth and I shared together a passage out of Zechariah in which the Lord talks about obstacles piling up like mountains before us, which he will eliminate and take care of.

As we entered the hospital together, the children’s ward just started to come alive. We found Dyako’s mom with her sleeping baby in her arms, wandering through the corridors of the ward. In her eyes, I could detect a hint of concern. Soon after, she shared her worries about Dyako having an increased body temperature, though it was not yet a fever. On one side, she feared the surgery, but even worse for her would be a second cancellation. She asked me when that nightmare finally would end. This suddenly reminded me of the promise the Lord gave us earlier for that day in Zecheriah. So I could encourage her to not lose faith as our Father in heaven worked on our behalf.

After the nurses performed an echocardiogram on Dyako to check his heart condition, the ward doctor confirmed that the surgery would be happening. Dyako’s mom was so relieved that she gave me a big hug.

We didn’t have a lot of time to rejoice in this good news as Dyako was called in for surgery immediately. Dyako had been very fussy during the assessments in the ward, but he calmed down in the comforting arms of his mom on the way downstairs to the operating room. There he got covered with hugs and kisses from his mom before he got carried away by the head nurse.

By god’s grace, I was allowed to follow little Dyako into the operating room to observe the surgery. It was very much on his mother’s heart to get pictures of this remarkable event so as to have evidence and remembrance of her son's heart transformation. It was an honor and a great pleasure for me to accompany this precious child through this big process. It was the first time I could observe a heart surgery after working as a nurse for Shevet Achim for almost one year. The opportunity came at the perfect time. Only a week before my departure, God gave me this wonderful opportunity to witness one of His miracles.

Once the long preparation for surgery was done by the anesthesiologists, the senior surgeon, Dr. Sasson, started the hard, four-and-a-half hour long labor of switching Dyako's great arteries. Following the doctor's skilled hands and seeing his passion for his patients was stunning. After taking out the artificially constructed shunt, which had been inserted in Dyako's first surgery to strengthen the left ventricle (big chamber), the senior doctor was able to start to work on the full repair. This included the following steps: cutting of the aorta and the pulmonary artery, attaching the aorta in the correct place, sewing the coronary arteries to the aorta, closing the hole between the two atriums (ASD), and putting the pulmonary artery in its right place. Then the beautiful full repair of Dyako’s heart was finished.

It’s incredible to see the amount of people involved in such a big heart surgery. And it was admirable to see everyone's efforts and professionalism as they worked hand in hand to save a life.

It was a big reunion for the mother when intubated Dyako was rolled into the ICU accompanied by the medical team. His mom confessed to me that she had missed him terribly during those few hours, which felt so incredibly long to her. Although she had a good time with two other mothers and my fellow nurse at the cafeteria, her thoughts were always with her loving son the whole time she waited for her son's surgery to be over.

When we were finally allowed to enter the ICU, we found Dyako installed and taken care of, lying in his bed. He looked so small and fragile but, at the same time, beautiful. Next to his bed, we found Dr. Sasson sitting in a chair, watching Dyako closely for the next few minutes. This was the perfect moment for Dayko’s mom to express her appreciation to the surgeon. We captured that beautiful moment in a picture. The senior surgeon explained that the next twenty-four hours are critical since Dyako's left ventricle needs to adapt to the increased workload. But he is confident that if Dyako overcomes tonight without any complications, he should continue to heal well.

Today, I once again learned how precious a life is and what a gift it is from our Creator. I praise the Lord for the opportunity he gave me today to marvel at His creation. Now I ask you to lift up Dyako's precious life to our Lord and Savior.