Gaza Children's Heart Surgery

Gaza Children
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This Week's Gaza Clinic

Posted on Tue, 01/23/2018 - 22:14 by Jesse Tilman

In our Gaza Clinic this week we only had two patients going to the usual echo checkups. Two of the Gaza doctors also came along, though.

Hani came along and slowly went through the day. He was born last March in 2016, and had surgery that September.
It was a full repair and he is doing well now. This is a marked difference from his initial condition of weighing just 4.5 kilos and having a failure to thrive and gain weight. It took a while for him to warm up to us, but he did start interacting after a while.
He moves and acts slowly, though I don't think from any medical condition. It seemed more like he was deeply thinking about everything. He's not scheduled for another checkup for another year.
Dana is a delightful girl who came for an echo today.
Her Down syndrome seems just to make her more joyful! Her mother watched over her well and laughed at her antics. Dana and Hani also made a trip each to the nurses checkup room down the hall for an EKG, and other tests. 
In other news, our boy Omar was discharged today and transported down to the Gaza border. We'll miss him but see him when he returns for checkups.
Thank God for His long-suffering love for us all! As we work to serve our neighbours from Gaza many mistakes are made and misunderstandings are almost commonplace. But somehow things work out and people get what they need. It's a testament to God keeping it all together, day after day after week after week!

The Gaza Five

Posted on Mon, 01/22/2018 - 19:59 by Jesse Tilman

We got to visit several of our Gaza children in the hospital today.

Omar and little Mohammed were in the ward. Omar was sleeping and I got a few pictures of him to send to his father. Mohammed was being fussed over by his grandmother.
He hasn't been eating much and she tried a few times to get him to eat more. Later a nurse came by and asked how much he had drunken from his bottle of nutritional milk. It was only 20 milliliters or so!
Mira is scheduled to go home today. We heard she was in the echo department so I walked over towards it to check. Coming up the stairs I met Mira, grandmother, and a young nurse bringing them back to the children's ward. I got to hold Mira for the walk back. They settled in the same room with Omar and Mohammed. We're waiting for their discharge papers till we drive them to the Erez border.
Later I went to see Mai and Wasim in the ICU. Mai is doing well they said, steadily gaining strength. Wasim, though, is still on a lot of medications and slowly mending.
The nurse said they started him on an IV drip nutrition line this morning. Both their guardians were outside and I did my best to pass on the information to them. 
May the Lord bless these kiddos!

Clinic Day

Posted on Wed, 01/17/2018 - 22:54 by Jesse Tilman

We used both vans for the transportation needs of the Gaza Clinic today. With a paper full of names, we were expecting to receive only four or five of them, maybe half of the applicants. Most were coming for check-up echocardiograms, and a few for catheterizations. 

Karam was by far the most energetic of the bunch.
His mother was good enough to tell us too, in her well pronounced but sparse English, "He is hyper-active today!" We had fun keeping up with them throughout the day. 
Hala was the oldest girl of the group and the most active that I saw.
She's wide-eyed and observant and takes care to listen. It was a joy to serve her.
"Hamoudi" Mahmoud  was a handful for his mother as he awkwardly crawled around. His large heavy head seemed to put him off balance easily.
These first three were the early birds out of the border crossing and got to go in the first van. The next two came some time later.
Maria came for an echo and admission for catheterization. Almost every time I saw her she was sleeping.
The news of the day for her was no need for the catheterization. Instead, a return home was in order.
Mai was our last and the literal baby of the family. Tiny and cute, we did our best to protect her little frame. Her news was that after the echo she was the one that ended up being admitted! She is now scheduled for surgery soon.
Throughout the day we also got to visit Mira, Omar, Jamil, and teenager Mohammed. Mira is thankfully in the regular children's ward and out of ICU. Her grandmother was having a rough time when we saw them though. The intense hospital life is taking a toll. Please say a prayer for her. Mira's hair has been shaved on both sides now, which made a sort of forlorn Mohawk look.
Teenager Mohammed was being discharged and we added him to our group heading back to Gaza this afternoon. They were happy to be assured of going home. It was my first time meeting him and was low-key as we just took care of logistics. His mother was bright and cheerful.
There were many other Palestinians from the West-Bank at the clinic today and it was fun to get to know some. I didn't see any of the Africans there today. 
God blessed our day and we were glad to be a part of what He is doing for these outcasts of society. Thanks to Messiah's love, they found caring hearts and hands this day in the midst of Israeli Tel Aviv.

Treatment for Waseem

Posted on Tue, 01/16/2018 - 20:00 by Alena D'Olimpio

Yesterday baby Waseem arrived from Gaza; today he is in the good care of the ICU staff at Wolfson hospital. The nurse assigned to take care of him said that he stable, but in definite need of surgery, and that the surgery should take place either tomorrow or a few days after that. As the doctor was doing his rounds he explained that Waseem suffers from coarctation, which means that his aorta, the artery that facilitates blood to the rest of the body, is narrowed. In addition to coarctation, he has also been diagnosed with Ventricular Septal Defect. This condition is an opening in Waseem's septum that allows highly oxygenated blood and poorly oxygenated blood to intermingle, which, if left untreated, will not allow his bloodstream to sustain the oxygen levels he needs. 

Even though Waseem needs urgent surgery, his grandmother seemed to be in good spirits because her grandson will be receiving the treatment he so desperately needs. She sat in the ICU next to Waseem for a few minutes when he was fast asleep and gently smiled at her newborn grandson.
In the midst of a bustling intensive care unit, Waseem's grandmother emanated peace because there is hope for this little baby from Gaza. 

Visiting Omar and Mira

Posted on Sun, 01/07/2018 - 13:56 by Co-authored

Jesse Tilman writes:

Little Omar was blessed to have his surgery performed today. After hoping and being scheduled a few times on previous days, the breakthrough came and today was the day.

We were able to be there for his grandmother for some of the time. Two other grandmothers of Gazan children are currently in the same area and were a welcome comfort to her also. They'd sit and swap stories and cell phone pictures. 
Later when Omar came to the ICU and was being stabilized, we tried to wait patiently. But right then the door to the ICU had a malfunction and ceased opening! Nurses, orderlies, and family members were being stopped from entering. Eventually a nurse from inside was able to jerk it open but it's magnetic locks again shut fast and it was a good ten minutes before anyone got through again. Finally when it was opened almost a dozen people poured out of the ICU. 
Soon we could go in with Omar's grandmother and see him. After all the stress and hope of the day, and the anxiety about the door, it was good for us to see Omar peacefully intubated and in the professionals' hands. We look forward to seeing him grow healthy and whole now that his heart is repaired.
Josh Belmont continues:

Today we headed to the hospital to visit Mira and to check on how her grandma is doing. We arrived to find her grandmother sitting tense, just outside the ICU. Mira had been intubated before (which is when a tube is placed down the throat and the baby is held unconscious) and as we sat down with her grandmother we discussed (in broken translation) her condition.

I wanted to go in to see little Mira, and as I followed her grandmother in we saw that she was no longer intubated, but awake, and alert. Her grandmother stood still, then all at once, turned with a smile. She then rushed out, leaving me alone watching this tiny child.

A nurse tended to little Mira as I snapped a few pictures showing her awake.

Leaving the ICU I regrouped with her grandmother telling something to Omar and Mohammed's grandmothers and she was smiling. As the conversation continued, I brought up the picture I had taken of her awake and the group smiled, pointing at her open eyes with joyful relief. Through translation her grandmother told me she wanted the picture for her family. She promptly made several excited phone-calls informing them of the good news. She also asked me to post it to facebook to help inform her family.

I will never forget her grandmothers face when I came out of ICU. Good news brought down the barriers of culture and language and allowed me to connect with this woman in her time of joy. We still couldn't understand each other, but we could share the joy of good news.

Thank you Lord Jesus, for your love transcends all barriers.


Mira, Omar, and Mohammed

Posted on Thu, 01/04/2018 - 22:40 by Co-authored

We sent a team of three - Sophia, Teresa and James - into Wolfson today to visit our three Gaza kids - Mira, Omar, and Mohammed - and their sweet grandmothers. 

From Teresa Baldwin:

We first went to see how Omar was doing. We were greeted by Omar's grandmother along with Mira's grandmother who was visiting with her at the time. We also met the grandmother of Mohammed. We visited for a bit and then Mira's grandma got up and motioned me to go with her to see Mira. As we walked into the ICU there was a nurse tending to Mira. I asked how she was doing. She said, "Better! She should be extubated tomorrow," (which would be Friday).

I snapped a quick picture and then Mira's Grandma motioned for me to leave with her.

As we left the ICU she took my hand as we walked down the hall to show Omar and Mohammad's grandmothers the picture and then we said our goodbyes and left. It was a very sweet time with babies and the women. 

From James Baldwin:

Little Omar who still has his head surrounded by an oxygen helmet was supposed to have surgery Tuesday. But that surgery has been postponed until Sunday. He seemed alert, comfortable and content while Grandma kept a watchful eye on him. In fact I even got a couple of smiles out of him.
Hopefully there will be no more delays and Omar can get his surgery and begin the recovery process. Continued prayers go up for both Omar and his loving grandma.
From Sophia Vogt:
Mohammed came to the hospital on Tuesday. He is only about 25 days old and he wasn't nourished very well. I think he has problems swallowing, and he looks very small - you can see most of his bones. He gets some milk through a tube in his nose and oxygen by the help of a tube going into his head, because his hands were too small to put it in there.
His grandma is with him and caring very well for him. She is a kind person and luckily she speaks a little English. Often it's really difficult to get in contact with the parents or grandparents because of the language. So that's a thing you can pray for too, that God would give grace so we can understand them. 
We still don't know when Mohammed will have his surgery, but at the moment just please pray for his poor condition, that he will be strengthened and can gain weight.

Omar and Mira Recovering

Posted on Tue, 01/02/2018 - 22:05 by Jesse Tilman

Omar is still with us, but his grandmother says they are planning to discharge him soon. She keeps a good watch on him. Kurdish Mohammed's dad came over and visited while we were with Omar.

He's in a little oxygen head bowl. And slept most of the time we saw him. Waking up slightly he rustled slightly and issued a small cry, but quickly went back to sleep. His grandmother was happy to have visitors. She even gave us some bread and sour cream to snack on. We spent some quality time find with Omar and grandmother today. May God's Spirit bless them.

Mira is still in ICU and intubated. The staff said they are planning on extubating her tomorrow. She did not have a catheterization yesterday as the grandmother told me, instead she had an operation on her aortic valve! She's doing fine now and we look forward to her recovery.
Her grandmother has her characteristic submissive attitude and cheerful demeanor. She's hoping to get some real tote bags to put her clothes and stuff in since she only has plastic bags right now. We looked around for some but haven't been able to help her with these yet.
Later she also came by to see Omar and grandmother. They're getting along well. I caught a video of Omar awake then.

Baby Noor Passes Away

Posted on Mon, 01/01/2018 - 22:49 by Jesse Tilman

"Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct he should show his works done in the gentleness that wisdom brings." James 3:13

This weekend baby Noor passed away. While not unanticipated, it was still difficult. She passed on Friday. We considered returning her to Gaza on Saturday, but on the advice of our Gaza coordinator Yousef, switched to after Shabbat on Sunday.

Noor's guardian handled herself well throughout the time. We could tell it was hard for her, but she continued to push forward in the necessities of life. Her support network at the hospital was there for her as well. Mira's grandmother has become close to her and they spent much time together with both their children in ICU. She's also gotten to know other Palestinians, especially those from Gaza.
One, fourteen year old Mohammed, returned home with us to the Erez border crossing in the same trip with Noor's body and relative. Mohammed and his guardian were a big help with translation and watching over Noor's guardian. I still don't know if she was Noor's mother or how she was related to her. When I would ask I would get confusing messages.
Noor's guardian only had a hard time when we would have to wait for different things. Sitting quietly next to Noor's body, there is almost no other response but to start crying. Fortunately, our co-worker Teresa never had to leave her side.
May God give a special grace to Noor's family as they receive their loved one's body back. May the love and care she received remain in their memory even through the pain of loss. Even more so, May the reason she received such attention be remembered to be because Jesus first showed us such love, and we just follow his example.

Mira and Mohammed

Posted on Sun, 12/31/2017 - 18:26 by Co-authored

Jesse Tilman writes:

We ducked in to the ICU briefly this morning. A visiting team from Save A Child's Heart was there with members all the way from California! 

Before I could talk with the hospital staff or see any of our children, Dr. Sagi introduced me and I gave a short word to the team about our work and thanked them for taking an interest in the young lives before them. 
Little Mira is still positioned in the right-most corner and on breathing ventilation. She's not on the oscillator machine though, so it's quieter and calmer around her. Her grandmother goes between friends in the ward and sitting near the ICU. Her best friend, Noor's mom, left today back to Gaza, so she is adjusting.
Mira may have a catheterization this afternoon. Her grandmother is in a positive mood about this. Her healing is on track and we hope the best for her. 
"Be strong and confident all you who wait on the Lord." Psalm 31:1 
Teresa Baldwin continues:
Today Jesse and I headed to the hospital we thought to take one baby home but we were notified by a nurse that Mohammed was ready to be discharged. Although it took quite some time to get the paperwork signed, Mohammed was more than ready to go home.
Both he and his father were in good spirits as they headed to the van. Mohammed and I exchanged a few words about siblings and family and a few smiles along the way. Once we got to the border he and his father made their way across the border and into Gaza to head home. 

Update on Mira and Noor

Posted on Fri, 12/29/2017 - 03:34 by Co-authored

From Darlene Schumacher:

Jesse and I went to Wolfson hospital today and got to visit one of our Gaza children, Mira. Presently, Mira is hooked up to an oscillatory ventilator in ICU. This is a big machine with long, fat tubes that go to her mouth to help her breathe. The machine seems to make her little body vibrate continuously. I thank God for the skill of the medical staff who care for her and the inventions that help sustain life! I was blessed to offer a small prayer to God for her healing. We would be blessed to have you join us in prayer for her. 

Jesse Tilman continues:

Going to see baby Noor is rough when you come upon the many machines and tubes surrounding her. She is on an ECMO machine that oxygenates, warms, and pumps her blood without using the heart or lungs. We hope that her body will be better able to heal itself while those organs are getting a rest.

Speaking to a nurse nearby, she told us that Noor's chest is also still open and that her prognosis is not good. Just going on an ECMO machine itself is a sign that the body is running down, and the doctors are doing what they can to save her. There is still much hope for Noor, but we are preparing for the possibility that she may pass away. Thank you for taking the time to read about her and saying a prayer for her and her aunt. Her aunt is a good friend now of Mira's grandmother who is always nearby.
We got to spend some time with these two guardians outside the ICU and exchange a little information with our limited Arabic skills. They smile readily and are glad to have visitors.