Fatimah's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Despair to Delight: Fatimah Admitted for Surgery

Posted on Mon, 05/14/2012 - 23:24 by Donna_Petrel

Extremes: Some days our families experience challenges which lead to despair, and some days our families experience joys so great they're filled with delight. Normally both extremes don't happen in one day, but today Fatimah, and particularly her mother, had a day of such extremes. 

The day began with the anticipation of Fatimah's admission to Wolfson for the surgery which was cancelled last week. We'd been told the surgery was scheduled for Tuesday, but to call and confirm before coming. We made it known to Fatimah's mother that we had to verify with the hospital this morning, but like us, she was expecting to depart and finish what was begun last week. Instead, when I called the hospital, I found out that two ambulance cases from Gaza had arrived yesterday, and due to the urgency of these cases, they were both scheduled for Tuesday surgeries. I knew this news would be hard to bear for Fatimah's mother even while I knew the doctors would do the same postponement for another child if Fatimah were the emergency. Nonetheless, it is hard for the heart of a mother who's waited already six weeks to hear that her daughter is delayed again. We shared as honestly and graciously as possible, understanding as best we could how painful this news was for her and her waiting family. The spectrum of emotions expressed included extreme disappointment, frustration, feelings of betrayal, tears, and plans for immediate departure. All we could do was assure her and Fatimah that the doctors have our full trust in the decisions they make, that we love them both, and that there remains hope for Fatimah here, so our counsel to them was to wait a little longer. Fatimah's mother declared she was willing to wait one more day. I left her speaking with my coworker Muna, and accompanied Rahand and his mother to the hospital for a final echo appointment.  

When I returned to Jerusalem with Rahand, Fatimah's mother asked if the doctor had said anything about rescheduling Fatimah's surgery. I told her that Dr. Alona did not mention anything to me at the hospital, but I hoped maybe she would call later. Indeed I was hopeful this call would come, but cannot say I truly expected it. However, just then, as I was turning to speak to another mother, my telephone rang, and it was Dr. Alona. She said Dr. Sasson had just called her to say he'd decided to change the surgery schedule, and he wanted Fatimah to come immediately for admission! With thanks to God, I turned back to Fatimah's mother to say that the doctors were requesting Fatimah for surgery. Immediately she burst into tears of relief, and after rejoicing together for a few moments, she asked when the surgery would be. As I explained that we should go right now, there were more tears, and with sincere gratitude for the news, she went to prepare her bags. Fatimah, on the other hand, was much less receptive to the news, and wanted only to be quiet, and hold on to her mother. 

A few minutes later we gathered in the courtyard to send them off with prayer. Again drying her tears, Fatimah's mother led her suddenly-serious daughter to the car. Once on the road it took about a quarter-hour for Fatimah to settle down and begin interacting with the rest of us. She had a chance to talk to her beloved father, and then she filled the car with songs for the duration of the journey. The hospital was ready for us when we arrived and took Fatimah to a room right away.

A sweet mother and child from Gaza are their roommates, and right away Fatimah made friends with her new neighbor.

The nurses were making rounds through the ward with preparations for the patients, and since we couldn't stay longer, we prayed for Fatimah's surgery. We left the hospital just as dinner was delivered but before Fatimah

Fatimah's Surgery Postponed One Week

Posted on Tue, 05/08/2012 - 22:59 by Natalie Kayser

No one really likes to wait

Fatimah Admitted for Heart Surgery Tomorrow

Posted on Mon, 05/07/2012 - 21:14 by Donna_Petrel

This day Fatimah and her mother made the long-anticipated journey to Wolfson Hospital for admission for open heart surgery, which is scheduled for Tuesday morning. She was less joyful than usual at the outset due to simple seating logistics, which meant she had to sit one row behind her mother on the van ride. Her mother patiently communicated with her as we began the trip, and eventually Fatimah was serenading us on our descent from Jerusalem.

Once at the hospital we were able to enjoy the beautiful weather in the children's outdoor play area while waiting our turn with the nurses and Fatimah's room assignment. Fatimah enjoyed the play-dough as much as the playground, and the time passed quickly until she was called back to the nurses' station. 

The dreaded IV needle was on everyone's mind as we waited for the doctor, and Fatimah was a little nervous. But rather than cry or whine, she expressed her fears by joking with her mother that she, the mother, ought to have the needle in her arm, not Fatimah. We were able to laugh as the minutes passed, and when the procedure was done, Fatimah was both quiet and patient.

She was cooperative and curious as we went to her room, looking forward to her waiting lunch. Soon she was making herself at home, and finding ways to spend her afternoon as she and her mother settled in.

The atmosphere during the visit was pleasant, but things became more serious as the Shevet van was ready to head home. I asked to pray for them before leaving, and Fatima's mother was at once receptive and emotional. Tears flowed freely, which was a little confusing to Fatimah. This strong woman who has come so far to receive the help her daughter needs also needs the assurance of a loving Father, who cares even more than we do for Fatimah's healed heart.  

Fatimah Crosses the Jordan

Posted on Sun, 04/08/2012 - 20:48 by Jonathan Miles

Lovely Fatimah and her mother flew into Amman Wednesday, and Thursday crossed into Israel with three other Iraqi children also coming for heart surgeries. Fatima and her mother are both Arabs, unlike the majority of our Iraqi children who are Kurds. (Those of us who speak some Arabic are glad!).

All the girls were exceptionally well-mannered and patient on the eight-hour journey, and they've settled in well here in Jerusalem.

Friday night they all joined us in their finery for the Passover meal, and Sunday morning we all enjoyed an excursion to the Garden Tomb to mark the Resurrection.

Due to the Passover holiday, it appears Fatimah will rest with us in Jerusalem for one week before her first hospital exams.

Wheels Turning to Bring Fatimah

Posted on Sun, 03/11/2012 - 21:41 by Jonathan Miles

Five-year-old Fatima was born with the combination of heart defects known as Tetralogy of Fallot, which must be surgically corrected if she is to grow and live. This surgery carries a high success rate of over 95%.

In other countries a child with this condition would be operated on in the first year of life, since there is risk of sudden death due to cyanotic spelling.

Fatima comes from a large family; she is the youngest of six children. With God's help we will put Fatima's visa application in this week, and we hope to have her in Israel by the start of April.