Gaza Children's Heart Surgery

Gaza Children
Paid in full

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.

Marwa Admitted for Surgery Tomorrow

Posted on Mon, 12/04/2017 - 22:49 by Jesse Tilman

Yourself and I were privileged to bring 8 year old Marwa and her grandmother to the hospital from the Gaza border this morning. There's been just a few children coming out of Gaza lately as the usual case load hasn't yet picked back up to normal after the problems with a bacterial infection had shut it down for a while in the last year or so. We hope the life-saving treatments will soon once again be in good use for the needy in Gaza.

They were already out and waiting for us when we reached the border. Yousef  identified them and we escorted them to their seats in the van. I helped them with their seat belts and luggage. Marwa had a cute children's backpack that we sadly had to move aside so that she could sit properly. 
Her grandmother who came with her is a story herself as we found out. Sharing the same name, Marwa and Marwa are a special pair. She is stately and has the manners of a queen. Hardly what the normal media shows of what people from Gaza are like. On the van ride north she conversed with Yousef and held young Marwa as she slept on her shoulder.
At the hospital when I saw them after parking, they were already settled in the last room in the children's hall. Hospital pajamas, blankets, and sheets are very matching and made Marwa look as if she was a part of the place. Her grandmother was sitting with perfect posture next to her bed. I briefly helped them with connecting to the WiFi before stepping away.
 Elisa came with me later to see them as well. It was special for her as she had not helped out with a Gaza patient before. We were soon communicating as best we could with a mixture of Arabic, English, body language, and hand motions. Later Elisa tried some Duetsche (German) just for fun. Marwa's grandmother brought out some chocolate to share, Elisa figured out how to ask them to sign her journal, and I got them to have a thumb war. With Marwa winning everything though, we were looking for a new game plan when the nurses came and saved us from defeat.
Marwa is slated for surgery tomorrow and we hope to be there for her. Thank you God for this little girl, may she find new health in the opportunity for life You have given her through this partnership with Israeli doctors.

Cath for Maha

Posted on Sun, 11/19/2017 - 20:57 by Coby van Wijhe
This morning Ben and John went to the Gaza border to pick up Maha and her grandmother.
Maha is a beautiful girl of 5 years. She was admitted in Wolfson hospital today, and tomorrow she will have a catheterization.
Please join us in praying that this will go smoothly for her.

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.