Gaza Children's Heart Surgery

Gaza Children
Paid in full

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.

Our Latest Gaza Clinic

Posted on Wed, 12/27/2017 - 04:44 by Jesse Tilman

Children were able to come for echocardiograms to the hospital from Gaza today in a few stages. We had our main group first thing in the morning and then a child around 1pm and then the last one after 3pm. The gauntlet of permissions, guardians, schedules, official documents, and transportation coordinations often narrows down the list of potentials to around half of the hopefuls.

Nissan was in the first group. I'm convinced he's a genius in the making. Alert and watchful, he shows an understanding of goings-on around him that surpasses many adults. He uses his budding English to effect.
Somaia also came in the early morning. An eleven years old, she was the surprise of the day as her heart turned out to be completely healthy. Her pulmonary arteries are dilated, but with no significant effect on the heart.
Omar also came in the first group. After his echocardiogram he was admitted for the night at the hospital. He's two months old today. 
While in the echo department we met 14 year-old Mohammed from Gaza that had had surgery a few days before.  His dad and I got in on a selfy with him. He's not very excited about hospital life, especially as he will have to have another surgery.
As you can see in the pictures, two Gazan doctors joined us during the day as well as one doctor in training: Bashear, Faez, and Yasmin respectively. They were an invaluable help throughout the time with their language and relational skills.
Just as we were leaving for the day, baby Mona came by taxi. Her trip today had been scheduled, cancelled,  and rescheduled a few times. Finally pushed through, she arrived by special delivery. She's on track for a catheterization tomorrow I believe, after the echo today. 
But the treasures our Heavenly Father had prepared for today were not done yet! During the afternoon, two family members related to Somaia, who work in the hospital were contacted and came to spend time with her and her father. Then when we were ready to go, her father's long lost niece in Tel Aviv that he had not seen for 35 years was able to come and have a quick reunion with them before they returned to Gaza. It was a heart-wrenching punch of emotion as they put years worth of love into a few intense minutes.
Thank you God for the blessings found today! You are the God of the family; every girl, boy, parent, relative, and life season is in Your hand. Thank You for blessing a few families from Gaza today.

Mira, Marwa, and Mohammed

Posted on Wed, 12/20/2017 - 19:09 by Co-authored

From Ana Ruiz:

Today I went to the hospital with Jesse and Johanna to check on our Gaza kids. I saw Mira and she is doing well. However, her surgery has been postponed because there is a certain machine they need for her post-op care. At the moment, the hospital only has two of these machines, so they have to wait until one of them becomes availble to use. Then, they can schedule her surgery. The doctor that is caring for Mira told me that for this reason nobody knows when she will have the surgery. It all depends on when the machines will be free. 

We hope that the machine will be available as soon possible. Please join us in praying!

Jesse Tilman continues:

Sweet Marwa is in the regular children's ward now. She's happy to just stay undercovers and quietly watch the hospital life go by.

We got to visit her and see how she was doing. She didn't want much attention, but she let us shake her hand and do a few fist bumps. A person passing out Hanukkah sweets came by and delivered an amazing assortment.

We ate some together and asked about the puzzles she likes to put together. Later a group of kids handing out Hanukkah presents gave her a package and paused for a photo too.

When we came back later with some puzzles for her, she had changed rooms and was ready for more sleep. Her grandmother was happy to see the attention she was getting, but let us know when Marwa needed some rest. 
Thank God for this beautiful young lady! She is slated for a second surgery in the days ahead. Her first one was not a complete repair. As you can imagine she is not so happy about the thought of another such process, but she is staying strong. Please remember her in your prayers.

Our big 11 year-old, Mohammed, was the chosen one to go to surgery today in the afternoon. After ten days in the hospital his turn came around and we got to see him off to the downstairs operating rooms.

When we first saw him this morning, he and his guardian uncle told us a bit about their situation. Mohammed has five sisters and two brothers and is a middle child. He's had some pain recently, I'm not sure if from anxiety or from the medical processes and work. He's received many Hanukkah gifts and got one more while we were there. We got to say a prayer for him with his uncle and commit his surgery to God's grace. They taught me the Arabic word for health, "sakha," so I could wish him good health.
When we returned after lunch, he was being prepped to go for the operation. We hurried with them down the hall to the elevators and then went downstairs for a last goodbye as he went on into the restricted surgery area. Then we showed his uncle the way back upstairs. 
Soon we'll see this bright young man with a healed heart, Lord willing! His future is ahead of him and the way is opening up! May we continue to show him Messiah's love and where the help for his life is coming from. Our Heavenly Father's Hand is behind the orchestration of events that has made his surgery possible.

Noor, Marwa, Jana, and Mira

Posted on Sun, 12/17/2017 - 21:47 by Maxine Stuart

Today I checked on a few of our Gaza children who are at Wolfson hospital.

Noor was in surgery the whole time we were at the hospital today. I quickly got to meet her mum, and wished her the best. It was hard to see her sitting there waiting, but she had the company of other mums, and I pray the results are good.

Marwa is a beautiful little girl, it was my first time meeting her today. She was having an echo done at the time, and looked exhausted and in pain. The nurse reported that she is doing well, but will remain in secondary ICU tonight as she still has one drainage tube connected. They hope that maybe she can be moved to the children’s ward sometime tomorrow. I did not take any pictures in order to respect her modesty, and I also didn’t want to make her feel more uncomfortable than she already was. The staff are taking good care of her.

Jana was discharged today, and was taken back to Gaza by our team members Andrew and Suhail. It’s always nice to see someone leaving the hospital and on the other side of everything involved in surgery and recovery.

Mira is still awaiting her surgery in ICU. The doctor reported she is stable now, and might have her surgery on Tuesday. It was good to see her again:

She has a nice pink glow compared to the time I last saw her, which was the day she came to Israel and was fighting for her life.  Her Grandmother called to me from down the hallway, and came rushing towards me to give me a big hug and the customary Arabic kisses. She was so excited to see me, and happily told me the names of everyone in our team who had come to visit Mira. She is so grateful! She is hoping a lot more for Mira’s improvement then the first day I met her. I remember that during the drive from the border, she almost seemed indifferent to what might happen to Mira, as if there was so little hope. Now, I think after seeing how many people are fighting for Mira’s life, she has a renewed sense of hope. What a beautiful thing to witness and be a part of! I love how Shevet is a part of building bridges between people, something very beautiful comes out of it.

Mira, Marwa, and their Grandmothers

Posted on Tue, 12/12/2017 - 03:42 by Jesse Tilman

Our two Gaza girls are fighting through the invalid's life and with the help at the hospital, gaining their health. Their grandmothers are keeping a loving eye on them. The saying that grandparents get to just spoil and enjoy their little ones and once they are on a sugar high, send them home, still holds true; even though we are the ones they give chocolate and snacks to, while the kids are being worked on. These experienced ladies know how to bless others.

Mira is still in ICU recovering after a CT scan we look forward to hearing the results from tomorrow. She's intubated and sleeping on many medications. She required some suctioning for excess fluids, though. They are allowing pictures.
Her grandmother is getting used to her new environment and is very thankful. We took her some food and spoke a little with her. 
Marwa and her grandmother couldn't be found, but the nurses told us that the child went for surgery today. We went and looked for her grandmother here and there but without success. We hope to see her tomorrow and hear about the operation. After a few postponements, it was good to hear that she was taken today for the surgery. Here's some pictures of Marwa in the last few days. She enjoyed quietly putting puzzles together in the children's activity room in the garden.
God bless our little friends in the coming days. Truly, He's in the business of lifting up the humble, taking care of the helpless, and looking after the fatherless.

Mira Saved!

Posted on Sun, 12/10/2017 - 21:01 by Jesse Tilman

Maxine and I had the privilege to transport a month-old baby girl from the Gaza border to the hospital this morning. We were scheduled to be in house and family care when the word came through our co-worker Yousef that there was an urgent case coming out of Gaza. The child, Mira, was already on oxygen and we would need to bring a supply for her until we reached the hospital. Our house supply was low, so we considered options and after some requisitioning found a helping hand through the hospital. The regular ward wasn't able to give out a bottle of oxygen, but Dr. Houri in the ICU directed the staff to loan us a bottle, which they did after getting additional approval from another responsible party.

Now finally properly equipped, we set out to the Erez border crossing. There we were happily surprised to find our family not yet having come through. We had been worried they would be stuck in some middle-ground without an oxygen supply. After waiting a while and asking the gate guard for entrance, we phoned a co-worker for an update.
After a while more, we got the word that she would be out soon if she was not already. We renewed our efforts to enter the outer gate and position our oxygen supply for immediate use when she emerged, but the new gate guard also refused us entry by vehicle but suggested that we could walk inside with the oxygen supply.
Maxine was soon on her way in and I stood by ready with the van. She found the grandmother and child soon and phoned when she had gained permission from a guard who was taking care of her case for us to bring the vehicle inside. She was soon secured in the baby seat and we were on our way to Tel Aviv. 
The ride up was touch and go as Maxine labored to keep Mira's oxygen levels at a good range. Our home-use equipment was just able to do the job, keeping a running measurement of her oxygen and pulse, while we kept a watch on her breathing and complexion. We put on some Arabic music and tried to engage the grandmother with a few questions to keep her mind off the difficulties.
Arriving at the hospital, Dr. Alona was nearby and after a look at Mira brought her in to check her vitals. Finding her oxygen lowering, she started some extra measures and as the downward trend continued, called for help. 
Dr. Tamir walked calmly up and took charge as Dr. Alona let us know that Mira's fragile hold on life was collapsing. I did my best to relay the message on to her grandmother and asked her to pray. She replied that she would accept God's will. Our Shevet staff were soon alerted also and began asking our heavenly Father for his mercy. Soon even more hospital personnel were gathering and the head nurse was shooing even doctors out of the nurses station.
After a few tense minutes, the situation began stabilizing and we began taking fresh hope. Soon the staff were calming down and we were glad to see a renewed lease on little Mira's life. 
Next they layed her pale, skinny frame on a mobile infant bed and rushed her over to the ICU room. We followed with the grandmother and showed her where to wait outside. Yousef came by later and spoke with her. 
Dr. Sasson looked in on her stabilization in ICU as well. I went in later to check on her but the nurses still wanted no visitors, so after seeing to the grandmother, I prepared to leave.
Heading home, I reflected on what a miracle God had worked today! Talking earlier with Maxine we ran through how God had really taken care of each step on the way. From the oxygen supply, to the helpful guard at the border, to the ride north, to the "accidental" immediate meeting with Dr. Alona, to the answered prayers of our Shevet network, we were really blessed to be partners in God's work of giving another day of life to this precious little one. When Dr. Alona said that Mira was dying, I had remembered times with other children when the outcome had not been so good. But today was not one of those days!
We look forward to seeing Mira in the coming week and continuing the fight for her life. She is not out of the woods yet, as we say in America. Thank you for your interest in Mira's story and your petitions for her health. May she find new strength in her young struggle for continued life.