Gaza Children's Heart Surgery

Gaza Children
Paid in full

Gaza Clinic Back on Track!

Posted on Fri, 11/03/2017 - 20:57 by Coert van der Veen

Recently we didnt receive many children from Gaza due to a bacterial infection that spread over Gaza and North Africa. But we recently got updated about the declining of this infection, meaning the risk of bringing the infection into the hospital is low now. This means we can again bring children in from Gaza again!

On Tuesday, 5 families came to the Gaza clinic. 

We received Mohammed for an evaluation echo after his surgery earlier this year:

Also Fauzi came for evaluation:

Both boys are in good condition. Another Mohammed who is 13 years old has severe heart problems though:

He will have to come back in two weeks to Wolfson for his heart surgery. He has been struggling with heart problems since he was seven years old. His mother shed some tears as she heard the news that Mohammed had to be taken in for surgery. 

Khaled also came for evaluation, and after checking his echo results, the doctor told him: "See you next year!" Which is of course good news.
Finally we had a little and cute Mohammed who stole many hearts with his big blue eyes:
We had a good day of meeting old and new friends, sharing some food and being able to bless these families. The families often show their thanks to the hospital staff as well as to our Shevet volunteers. After a long day in the hospital we escorted the families to the mini-bus that brought them back to the Gaza border crossing.
Thank you, Lord!

Busyness as Usual

Posted on Wed, 07/12/2017 - 23:43 by Joseph Carter

This week at the Wolfson Gaza Clinic was beautiful busyness as usual. Nine children came from Gaza to have their echos done. Two children were admitted for cardiac catheterization: Hady and Hala. Seven children were at Wolfson to receive a cardiac follow-up: Adarab, Abdalla, Mohammad, Abed, Alla, Omar, and Said.

Throughout the busyness of the day it was difficult to have very good conversations with the children and parents.

However, we trust the Lord that our time and actions speak love to these people. It is his work through the Holy Spirit that changes lives. 

Nine Beautiful Children

Posted on Wed, 07/05/2017 - 23:28 by Joseph Carter

This week 9 beautiful children from Gaza came to Wolfson to have their hearts checked. Maria, a 2 year-old girl was there for the first time having an evaluation. Results are not yet determined. Five of the children - Shaith, Moayad, Said, Haya, and Dalia - were there for a cardiac follow-up. Two children, Bailson and Mohammed were admitted for surgery. Through all of the craziness of the day I had a chance to play with Maria some and enjoy her laughter and 4 toothy smile. Her grandmother accompanying her was very sweet. Please continue to pray for the families that come from Gaza that they would be encouraged and blessed by the Lord's Truth. 

The Language of Play

Posted on Wed, 06/21/2017 - 22:53 by Shea Lindsay

I had the opportunity to be a part of the Gaza clinic this week! The three Gaza children that were taking part in the clinic were Nabil, Deaa, and Noor, and they all had the same check-up procedure done. The three boys all had surgery in the past and were back at the clinic to check their blood pressure, O2 saturation, and get an ECG done.

Nabil was four months-old when his heart problem was discovered, and the issue was that one of his valves was functioning improperly. He was a spunky little guy! Three years old and so full of life, he was running around and playing hide-and-go-seek from the doctor behind his mother. He had to get sedated because he was not super enthused about getting an echocardiogram (ECG) done.

When they were finished with their testing, the three boys and I played in the waiting area while we waited for the doctor to give the follow-up summaries. Nabil’s mother plopped his droopy, sedated body in my arms so the three mothers could go shopping in the main area of the hospital while I watched the kids.

Although I couldn’t speak to the children, because they speak in only Arabic, there is this beautiful universal language that every child seems to know how to “speak” - the language of play. We exchanged no words, but we played for hours- tic, tac, toe, puzzles, coloring, sifting through pictures of previous heart patients trying to find each other, etc. The children were so well behaved and fun to play with!

Once the three boys got their next check-ups scheduled, their appointments were concluded and I saw them off into the taxi back to Gaza. The mothers kissed me on the cheek and thanked me over and over again. By the end of the day, although we still couldn’t communicate directly, they had really warmed up to me and were being so kind and sweet.

Noor and Deaa both have holes in their hearts and will have another surgery when they turn 16, but they most definitely can use prayers until then. Prayers for healing and that there will be no complications until then.

Consider It All Joy

Posted on Wed, 05/24/2017 - 21:26 by Isa Mata

For the first time since I started volunteering at Shevet Achim, the Gaza clinic started out quite slow. We arrived at Wolfson hospital around 9-10 am, but things over at the Erez Border Crossing were going slowly, and the families still hadn’t been able to cross over. I could tell the staff was starting to get worried - as was I - about what time the families would arrive and whether they would still be able to get all the check-ups done in time. A SACH (Save a Child’s Heart) volunteer was playing Connect Four with one of the children from the West Bank who was waiting to get his results as we sat and watched.

I overheard people at the office say, “they’ve arrived,” and shortly after, at about half past noon, I heard from Yousef that the families from Gaza had reached the hospital.  Suddenly, the quiet waiting area was filled with seven families of children who would be needing a echo check-up. The doctors wasted no time checking the list of names and immediately admitting them. As you can imagine, there was a lot to do in very little time. I wasn’t able to photograph each family, but I did get to know four of them quite a bit.

This baby enjoying a peach from his grandmother’s hand is Ali Mohammad. He was very well-behaved throughout the whole process and was charming all of us with those big, brown eyes of his! Only one year and 3 months old, he came to Tel-Aviv about 4 or 5 months ago for surgery, and was returning today for his first follow-up. He and grandma went home with the good news that everything was doing well.

Here’s Judy, trying to decide whether or not to take that purple teddy bear from a SACH staff member.

Judy is three years old and came with her grandmother. When she was only two months old she had heart surgery, and has been back every year since. One of the things her grandmother was struggling with this time around was that she had just had an eye procedure herself, and it was quite hard for her to be around the light. But she “would do anything for her granddaughter,” she affirmed. Judy and her grandmother are very sweet, and Grandma didn’t leave without thanking all the doctors and Shevet staff that day.

This little girl is Maha. At a very young age they found out that she had a hole in her heart. Her great-grandmother says the doctors were expecting it to close on its own, but they’ve been monitoring it and have found that it has only grown wider. Maha was one of three children (and their families) who had to stay at Wolfson for more examinations and probable surgery. She has an adorable baby sister waiting for her with her parents in Gaza. Maha’s great-grandmother shared pictures of her with us.

“All she needs is that ipad to be happy.” -Maha’s great-grandma

These two ladies were making the families laugh all afternoon:

This is Sally and her mother. Sally is also coming for a follow-up from her previous surgery. They shared with me that doctors also found that her younger sister had a hole in her heart, but they were able to close it and she’s had no trouble since. This hasn’t been the case with Sally, who has had more complications. But doctors said she is doing fine and referred her for another check-up in 6 months.

Sally is 17 years old, and like her mother, feisty and funny. When I offered them sandwiches, her mother accepted, while Sally said: “No thanks, I’m fasting.” “Ramadan hasn’t started yet, honey!” Her mom replied sarcastically. “Fine,” she admitted, “I’m just trying to watch my figure,” and they both laughed.

Sally’s mom told me I look a lot like her niece in Ramallah, and after talking to her a bit, she said: “Wow, your voice is similar, too!” Before I knew it, she handed her cellphone to me and said: “Say hi!” Confused, I followed her instructions and greeted a stranger on the phone in Arabic, and asked how she was doing. A few minutes later I came to find out that she was pranking a family member in Gaza, making her think she and Sally were in Ramallah with their family. I accidentally played the part of her niece!

Of course, we couldn’t leave without a picture together.

By about 4 pm, all seven families had been taken care of and were all set to go. It was amazing to see how quickly and efficiently the doctors at Wolfson took care of them and still made time to answer their questions. And I also learned an important lesson from these loving, kind, and funny families who even in times of trouble, leave room for joy. 


Dwelling in Unity

Posted on Thu, 05/18/2017 - 23:55 by Mai Shahin

As I joined the Gaza clinic this week, I felt a mixture of many feelings.  We welcomed them as they came from Gaza, a place that is hard to live in or get out of. There are lots of challenges in all areas. I thought about how their children are very sick and they are not able to do anything but count on us to help. What a difficult place for a parent to be in. Thank the Lord, six children were able to come out of Gaza for the clinic today. 

Ibrahim is 15 years old and previously had a catheterization. Today he came with his mother to see the results. The doctors said he will need to come back in July for a full surgery. Eman is 3 years old, and was admitted yesterday for a cath. After that, she is scheduled to have surgery on Sunday.  The other four children - Mohammad (13 yrs), Salah (2 yrs), Naba (7 yrs), and Naem (9yrs) - came today for follow-up. All of them received good news that their health is good and they can return next year for another follow-up. Many children who have heart surgery spend the next several years having check-ups to make sure they are still growing and thriving the way they should.
I was deeply grateful and felt blessed to be a part of Shevet Achim and all they do, for not only the kids, but their families, also. I pray that the help they receive gives them hope for better health and life.
The whole day I was seeing, hearing, and being assured by all the families how thankful they are for our work. We stood with them during their time at the hospital, talking with them, and helping with their children. It gave me the sense of how important it is to be a light, showing the example of our Lord Messiah, standing up in faith and sharing it with them. It is through Messiah that we can continue to dwell in unity. 

Prayers for Abdulrahman

Posted on Thu, 04/27/2017 - 22:23 by Alexa Bigl

Today, Abdulrahman and his grandmother returned to Gaza. The doctors at Wolfson were not sure if they could surgically repair his heart. And then they were concerned about issues with his brain. In the end, the baby's parents chose not to have him operated on due to the unlikely success and the high risk. So, today Abdulrahman returned to Gaza via an ICU ambulance to the European hospital he came from just a few days ago.

We have been blessed by the presence of his grandmother in our home the last nights. She even joined us on Monday for a party, and we had the opportunity to lift her and her grandson up in prayer. It was touching Abdulrahman's grandmother spoke sweet and kinds words expressing her appreciation for us towards the end of our evening gathering. It's amazing something so simple as Ruth stepping out of her way to ensure this woman had a place to sleep was blessed so abundantly. It was an honor to know she had felt love surrounding her through Shevet. The Lord is faithfully using us. And He faithfully encourages us in many ways; Monday night this grandmother's words were a great encouragment to all of us. 

The grandmother can be seen peering around Floryan's mother here, from Monday's party.

The family of Abdulrahman has another very sick child in their home also. Please join with us as we lift this family up in prayer. Only the Lord of comfort can touch these people's lives in a real, meaningful way. And we pray for God to do just that. We ask for His comfort to descend on the whole family. May His name be recognized and glorified through Abdulrahman's life, amen.

You Did For Me

Posted on Sun, 04/23/2017 - 23:46 by Ruth Zellweger

"...Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40

Each life matters; each child matters. That is one of the reasons why Shevet Achim exists. Yet when there are many demands on us, and the number of families we are living with and serving is steadily increasing, we can easily miss out on someone: the one that is not so much in the foreground, the one that is quiet, the one that has no one to speak up for him.

There have been days recently when the demands on my co-workers and I did not seem to come to a stop, when one emergency followed the next. We pray, we support, we intercede, we advocate for our families, and in the evenings there is not much energy left. And then we hear about another urgent need, a very sick child, another guardian that needs our love, time and support. But we feel we have nothing left. We already gave everything we had, and all we want is to have some solitude and quiet. 

Baby Abdulrahman was born a month ago in Gaza with severe heart issues. This past Thursday our co-workers Laila and Agnes organized his transport to Wolfson hospital, as the cardiologists there had accepted him for treatment. As usual, it took some time until all the arrangements were made and the baby was on his way. By the time he reached the hospital it was already 8pm. Dr. Tamir examined him and told Laila that Abdulrahman arrived in very bad condition. He was accompanied by his grandmother, who came to Israel for the first time, didn't know anything or anyone, and did not really understand how things worked. Part of me wanted to ignore the information I had received, as it had been already a very full day, but the other part knew that Abdulrahman's grandmother needed some support. And so I went to the hospital to see what was going on. I found the grandmother sitting in front of the ICU and introduced myself. Then I went inside with the grandmother. Abdulrahman lay in his little bed, intubated, his eyelids swollen. Sometimes he tried to open his eyes. Seeing this precious yet so sick baby lying so helplessly there was not easy. Dr. Tamir told me that he had come to a different diagnosis than the doctor in Gaza, and that he was not sure yet if Abdulrahman could be helped. However, he would discuss his findings with the other cardiologists and surgeons. 

The grandmother was very tired and so we went to the children's ward were we found a bed for her beside another grandmother from Gaza. 

Today, with the start of the new week in Israel, the children's ward filled up again, and there were no spare beds for the guardians in the ICU. When I reached the hospital this evening to help support one of our Kurdish families, Abdulrahman's grandmother approached me and told me that she had no place to sleep. Again, my first reaction was that I did not feel I could deal with that right now. But Yeshua gently reminded me that this woman matters as much as the lives of the children, and the families that live with us. It took about half an hour to get the permission from the ICU doctors to take her home to our Jaffa base, but finally we had the paper and were on our way. The grandmother was welcomed by our Kurdish families and soon went to bed. I am thankful that we have the opportunity to serve the families from Gaza in this way. And I pray that my heart would always be soft and willing to respond to the needs of the next person right in front of me. After all, what we do is of course a help to the people entrusted to us - but more so do we serve our Lord. 


Mahmoud, Nawal, and Rahav

Posted on Tue, 04/18/2017 - 22:15 by Joseph Carter

Today’s Gaza clinic had only three children. Mahmoud, a 2 month-old boy, Nawal, a 3 month-old boy, and Rahav, a 5 year-old girl. It didn’t take very long for all three of them to have their echoes done. So by the time they left, I was only just beginning to be friends with Rahav.

Mahmoud and Nawal were both admitted to the hospital. Mahmoud for a cath, and Nawal was admitted to have surgery. Rahaf got to go home until her check-up next year!

Lord, we pray that you would sustain and bless these three children and their families. Amen. 

Gifts from God

Posted on Sat, 03/25/2017 - 17:36 by Sean Perez

This week's Gaza clinic hosted the famillies of Salma, Lena, Eman, and Ibrahim. What a gift from God to serve these beautiful people. 

Salma first came through Shevet when she was 20 days old.  It was one week after she was born, that her parents saw she was very blue, so their son who works at a hospital in Gaza encouraged them to get it checked out.  After visiting 3 hospitals, they found a small opening of the heart and a couple of other complications. 

Along their search for care, Shevet Achim became a reference point as to where the family could go to get extra help, since they were in need of extra assistance.  It seems Gaza has great doctor's, but are limited in resources which hinder the operations they can perform.  So, Salma ended up coming to Israel to have a heart catheter placement.  Which today we brought her in for a cath check, to make sure everything is still functioning and flowing efficiently.  
Lena's parents discovered she was having breathing problems at only one month old. 
So, her mother was prompted to take her to the hospital to see what was wrong.  The doctor's at a hospital in Gaza told them that surgery was required and they were recommended to have the procedure in Jerusalem or Holon.  
It just so happened that the hospital in Gaza was able to connect them with us here at Shevet Achim and we were able to assist in the child's medical care and expenses.  When Lena was first born she was also diagnosed with a possibly slight mental disorder, which there still may be possible signs of, but nonetheless she was in for her check up today at Wolfson Hospital and everything went great as we spent our morning in each other's company.

Seven days after Eman was born, she went to get shots and to have her heart listened to. As the doctor's in Gaza listened, she had an irregular heart beat.  Her heart was actually beating too fast, so they took her in for some echo exams, which ended up revealing she had 5 holes in her heart. Three of the holes were small, so they ended up closing on their own, but the other two required surgery.  

Shevet Achim came alongside of Wolfson Hospital to partner in the intervention of these two surgeries and today we brought Eman into the Echo Lab for a follow up to see how her heart has been progressing.  She was a ball of energy as she ran up and down the halls playing with Salma, making everyone smile at how much fun they were having.

Today Ibrahim is 15 years old and he ended up having his heart surgery last year (at 14 years old).  Today was his second follow up in the echo lab since his heart procedure.  When he was 13 years old, he was actually experiencing signs of fatigue and shortness of breath, so his family took him into a clinic in Gaza, where they discovered he needed to recieve heart surgery.

He and his mother were very conversational and lovely to be around as we all sat together in the Echo Lab awaiting his follow up scan.  He is able to enjoy playing soccer from time to time and he spoke pretty good english which made our time together very pleasant.
Please keep all of these children in your prayers for healing and restoration. They are truly gifts from God.