Gaza Children's Heart Surgery

Gaza Children
Paid in full

Update on Ritaj and Mahmad

Posted on Thu, 12/22/2016 - 00:12 by Sue Ingersoll
Ritaj and her mother were interacting today with smiles and calmness.
The doctor checked her arms and said there was some improvement - we are grateful for this news. Her mom said that Ritaj is a momma's girl. They both await a reunion at some point with Ritaj's four brothers and dad. I told her mother that people around the world are praying for Ritaj. Please continue! Your prayers are so appreciated. 
Mahmad's 6 week stay at Wolfson is completed, and he arrived safely to Gaza today. His father was then to drive him to the European hospital in Gaza as Mahmad still has some feeding issues. We rejoice that connections were made so this baby boy could return to Gaza. May the Lord bless him all of his days.

Bringing Life to Children from Gaza

Posted on Tue, 12/20/2016 - 21:58 by Lewis Ingersoll
The Wolfson echo lab was filled with kids today. We visited several who were there for evaluation. We also visited Ritaj and her mother, and baby Mahmad. Mahmad is doing well and is ready to return home.  
It was a sunny day, and Ritaj and her mother were able to go outside and enjoy the fresh air. Her mother is an inspiration, as she patiently cares for her daughter who at times seems to need physical and emotional help. We are all continuing to pray for mother and daughter as Ritaj's healing continues.  
One year old Amgad was very active for awhile.  Then he took a nap in his mother's lap. He was wearing a gray jacket with red trim.
Nabil was down the hall and on the table being examined when we found him. He is the young boy lying down.
Doaa and Dima were both patiently waiting for their evaluations. Doaa was wearing a gray jacket. Dima was with her father and was wearing a headband and sweater with turtle neck. 
Salma was accompanied by her mother.  We caught up with her just as she completed her exam in the echo room.
In addition to the Gaza children, there were quite a few others from the West Bank.
We rejoice that so many children were seen today. We thank God that there are dedicated doctors, nurses, and helpers to bring life and healing to these precious little ones.

The Lord Is Among Us

Posted on Sun, 12/18/2016 - 18:28 by Sue Ingersoll
"The Lord your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness  He will bring you quietness with His love. He will delight in you with shouts of joy." Zephaniah 3:17
On Friday, there was an exchange at the Gaza border. Ritaj's grandmother returned to Gaza after staying 3 weeks with Ritaj at Wolfson hospital.
Ruth drove the grandmother down to Gaza and was also able to pick up Ritaj's mother and bring her to Wolfson. What a wonderful and long awaited reunion between this loving mother and daughter. Ritaj almost immediately relaxed in her mother's arms. It was a holy moment. We are so thankful the visa was finally given for the mother to leave Gaza.
Today I spent the afternoon with Ritaj and her mother. Her mother felt comfortable enough to leave Ritaj's side for some needed moments away. After an inhalation treatment, Ritaj was treated to a candy sucker. I held it to her mouth as her mother dabbed water on it. 
Ritaj also had a big smile when her mother was Skyping on the phone. Please continue to pray for God's healing for Ritaj.
Across the room from Ritaj was baby Mahmad, who has no guardian with him at this time. Hopefully this week his guardian will be able to come from Gaza so Mahmad can return home. He seemed much more settled and peaceful than he was on Friday.
We pray God's protection and blessing on this sweet baby boy.

In the Hands of God

Posted on Wed, 12/14/2016 - 18:00 by Alexa Bigl

Ritaj continues to suffer the consequences of the strokes she had during surgery. Ritaj is receiving help from many medical interventions like high flow oxygen and NG tube feedings. While it is difficult to see Ritaj kicking her feet about and moaning in apparent discomfort, we are taking comfort in seeing she responds to her grandmother's care. When her grandmother talks to her, strokes her leg, or lovingly interacts with Ritaj, she quiets in response. The doctors are trying many different therapies and treatments to help Ritaj's brain and repair the areas affected by the infarctions. While these intervetions are by the hands of man, we pray God will enter into them. Only through His healing touch will Ritaj be restored. 

The hospital is concernened Ritaj's grandmother is becoming very weary. She has now been Ritaj's contant escort for three weeks at Wolfson. We are praying we can soon have permission for Ritaj's mother to come to the hospital and be with her daughter and relieve the grandmother. Until that permission is granted, we are seeking God's guidance on how we can best support the grandmother. Please join us in praying for Ritaj, her family, and for God's direction on how Shevet helps them. 

Hope Deferred and a Longing Fulfilled

Posted on Sun, 12/04/2016 - 18:15 by Ruth Zellweger

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12

Even though sweet Ritaj from Gaza was transferred to the Secondary ICU this afternoon, she is still in critical condition after her heart surgery last Monday. The head of the ICU confirmed that Ritaj had multiple infarctions, meaning that there was blood flow interruption, in her brain during surgery. She is not able to talk or communicate, however, sometimes she responds to the voice of her grandmother by moving her eyes. It is hard for everyone who sees her lying so helpless in the hospital bed, without being able to communicate properly. She was kicking around with her legs and it was hard to discern if it is because of pain or just as result of the strokes. Her condition is serious, but the doctors have hope that she can recover and they will soon have her start physiotherapy. Ritaj's grandmother was with her, and despite her crying, I sensed a new strength in her, which I believe is because many people are interceding for the family regularly. 

In the hospital joy and sorrow often lay closely together. This past week Wednesday, little Saada from Gaza underwent her open heart surgery. I still remember her anxious mother pacing the hospital hallways, and because of exhaustion sleeping in front of the ICU, while waiting for the surgery to be finished. The next time I saw her was on Thursday. She was sitting relaxed beside Saada's hospital bed in the ICU, a smile on her lips.

And today, Saada was moved to the children's ward. The mother's longing was fulfilled. We praise God for His mercy on her and so many other children. 

Two guardians, two children, and two different situations after their heart surgeries. However, we can know one thing that God's love is the same and His arm is never too short to help. We pray that Ritaj's grandmother will also see her longing fulfilled in God's perfect time. And while she is still waiting, may her heart be touched by His tender and comforting love. 

Ritaj's Fragile Life - A Call For Prayer

Posted on Thu, 12/01/2016 - 20:44 by Ruth Zellweger

Often we are not aware how precious moments can be, only to realize it a little bit later when suddenly nothing is as it was before. The time I got to spend with Ritaj on Sunday was special and I was looking forward to seeing her soon awake and well in the ICU. However, so far that has not yet happened. On the contrary, Ritaj's condition is not good. According to the doctor in the ICU she might have had a stroke and is suffering from seizures. She is currently not conscious, but lies restlessly in her hospital bed. 

Before Eva and I left the hospital, we spent some time in the ICU with our different families there. Ritaj's grandmother sat beside her bed, sobbing. It is a very hard situation for her and she wants to return home to Gaza. However, so far the process for the exchange with another guardian has not yet been completed. She got out her phone, showed me some pictures of her family and pointed at a beautiful young woman with a nasal oxygen cannula. With a broken voice she told me that this was her daughter who recently passed away. Her pain was visible and tangible. 

Please pray with us that Ritaj would be completely restored; for wisdom for the doctors and medical staff; and for her heart-broken grandmother, that she in her pain would meet the One who understands her best and cares for her most - the great Comforter. 


Let Them Come

Posted on Sun, 11/27/2016 - 21:32 by Ruth Zellweger

For several weeks I did not have much personal interaction with the people from Gaza, but today was my opportunity as Lewis, Sean and I spent the whole day at Wolfson hospital. Already, on Friday, I made the acquaintance of sweet Ritaj, who has been hospitalized for her upcoming surgery tomorrow morning. She is accompanied by her loving grandmother: 

And today I also met little Sabri and his grandmother. Sabri underwent a catheterization last week and had some complications afterwards. For that reason he is still being monitored at the hospital:

The third in our little group was the grandmother of baby Mohammed, who has been in the ICU/Secondary ICU for the past twenty days. 

What I appreciate so much about the people from Gaza is how they sympathize with all the other children and their families undergoing treatment as well. They quickly become one big family. Today, as we waited with Tamara's father for her surgery to be finished and for Aram's surgery to start in the afternoon, the grandmothers kept us company and asked several times if there were any updates. In between, I had the honor of taking Mohammed's grandmother to the border, as another grandparent will be coming out soon to replace her as Mohammed's guardian. We had a lovely drive to the border and it was obvious how she was looking forward to being reunited with her family. 

Back in the hospital, Ritaj opened up more and more, also thanks to the hospital clown, and after a while we were playing with a balloon and counting numbers in Arabic and English. I learned that Ritaj already underwent heart surgery at a younger age and that her upcoming surgery is expected to be long and complicated. However, today she was still the girl that likes to giggle and goof around:

One comment of the clown made me sad, as it is reality: Gaza is not a nice place to grow up and live in. There is so much oppression and suffering and hardly any prospects for the future. But then I reflected on another truth: Our Messiah is the light of the world and He can bring hope and future where there is none. He especially loves and cares for the children. They are so precious in His eyes. In Matthew 19:14 He says:"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." What we can do is to bring these children before Him through prayer and intercession and reaching out to them with love and compassion.

It was a special day with the families from Gaza. Please pray with us for God's healing hand on Mohammed, Ritaj and Sabri. May they grow up knowing people who, instead of hindering them coming to the Lord, make it easy for them to find Him. 


Feras Returns to Gaza

Posted on Thu, 10/27/2016 - 19:00 by Ruth Zellweger

At the age of exactly five weeks baby Feras is returning to Gaza this evening. He looks great and we are praising God for sustaining his life. Feras still needs to be monitored in a hospital for the next couple of days but should be able to be reunited with his family soon. 

During his short lifetime Feras has already overcome many obstacles, not to mention the separation of his mother and family. When I entered the hospital this morning, I met Dr. Hani who came from a night shift. She happily told me that Feras would be returning to Gaza today and that she had played him lullabies during her night shifts, since his mother or another guardian were not nearby. We thank God for the dedicated staff at Wolfson hospital and pray that Feras' recovery in Gaza would continue smoothly.

A Happy Day

Posted on Tue, 10/25/2016 - 22:27 by Ruth Zellweger

Precious Zina and her grandmother had been in the hospital for exactly four weeks today and together they overcame several difficult situations.

After Zina's open-heart surgery she was recovering really well, but during one of the routine echoes she had a hypertensive crisis that could have cost her life if it hadn't been for God's hand on her and the skilled medical team nearby. The weeks afterwards had not been easy for her grandmother who so much longed to return home to her family in Gaza. 

And today she heard the words she had been waiting for: "Zina is discharged." She was very happy and went back to the children's ward where she packed all her belongings. And then the waiting began as it took several more hours until she had the discharge report and medications for the first days at home. Through a lot of traffic we made our way to the border. When we arrived we got all her belongings out of the trunk. The trunk of the car can hold a lot - and it was filled to the brim with bags and gifts for the extended family in Gaza. Thankfully, several men who were standing around came to help out the grandmother, each carrying one of the heavier bags. 

The grandmother joyfully said goodbye and off they went. We hope to see each other again during follow-ups at Wolfson hospital. 

Spending Time with Ali and his Mother

Posted on Thu, 10/20/2016 - 22:22 by Sue Ingersoll

Ali is our 9 month-old boy from Gaza. Ali's mother kindly helped us today with translating for our newly arrived Kurdish parents.

Ali is a contented, good-natured boy with a healed heart. I enjoyed spending time with them today while we waited for Ali to be discharged. It was fun seeing pictures of their family. His mother was a literature major at the Islamic University in Gaza and spoke very good English. She was excited to return to her husband and 2 other sons in Gaza. Ali slept peacefully all the way back home from Wolfson hospital. What a lovely mother and son!