Halat's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Our Marathon Runner

Posted on Thu, 03/30/2017 - 05:14 by Susanne Minshull

We brought Halat to the hospital for a check-up today because she has been very sweaty and restless at night for a little while. The mother was very worried when we set off in the morning but got happier as the day went by. It was a lot of waiting in different places, but Halat is easy to entertain. Pen and paper is a favourite at the moment, and my carefully kept notebook for learning Kurdish is now covered in lovely scribbles. We had also brought along some toys and soap bubbles.

The heart echo showed no change, her lung x-ray was better than the last, and apart from a little weight loss she was doing well for her heart condition. It was explained to us that Halat should not sleep lying down flat until she has her surgery which we hope and pray will be fairly soon. The walk back was very nice, looking at all the flowers planted and giving lots of colours whilst Halat slept soundly in the stroller after a long day.

Now, imagine yourself taking a breath every second, imagine your heart pumping as if you were running a marathon every day and every night. You too would be sweaty BUT would you, like Halat, smile and charm everyone around you with a wonderful personality?  She is our little princess who just won't sit still for a minute.


CT Scan and a Red Balloon

Posted on Sun, 03/05/2017 - 21:52 by Ruth Zellweger

Today was hospital day for Halat. She was scheduled for a CT-scan of both her brain and her chest. The scan for her brain was to rule out any damage from lack of oxygen, as her saturation has been very low. The scan of the chest is supposed give the doctors a better understanding of the anatomy of Halat's heart.

We arrived at the children's ward around 10.30 this morning. After she received her hospital pajamas, Dr. Dafi put in the IV-cannula. I was so thankful that she was successful with the first attempt. While we were waiting to go the radiology department, there were different groups coming to the ward to play music and hand out gifts to the children. With the upcoming holiday of Purim, which commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman (described in the book of Esther), many people are coming to the hospital and generously bless the sick with gifts and snacks. Halat's favorite gift of the day was a red balloon. She played with it throughout the day and it was a joy for me to see her delight in that simple toy. It entertained her well until it was time for the tests.

Because of her age Halat received some medication that put her to sleep so that she would not move during the scans. The moment she fell asleep, her mother started crying. It was not easy for her to see her active daughter suddenly go quiet and without movements. But soon after the scan was completed, Halat was already waking up. We went back to the ward. Halat was awake for about half an hour, and then fell back into a deep sleep for two more hours. Her mother napped as well, which was good.

Eventually, we woke up Halat, otherwise we would have had to stay for several more hours at the hospital. Halat had her milk and was soon her old playful self.

Since no vehicle was available, we then walked back to our Jaffa home and enjoyed this beautiful and sunny afternoon. Of course, the red balloon came with us.

We are now waiting to hear back from the doctors regarding Halat's surgery. However, it seems that her final heart repair (the switching of her great arteries) has been very well prepared by the surgeons in India, who put a band around her pulmonary artery to train the left ventricle, which had been severely underdeveloped. We are praising God for His love and mercy on precious Halat and her family. He is a God of love and of hope and in Him we trust also for Halat's complete healing. I am looking forward to seeing Halat with a beatiful and rosy skin color. What a joyful day this will be!

Halat's First Day

Posted on Mon, 02/27/2017 - 22:03 by Melissa Barancik

Yesterday we welcomed Halat and her mother to Israel and Shevet. Today was Halat's first visit to the hospital.

The day started out with some play time on the jungle gym in the hospital courtyard. Halat had lots of fun playing with her mother and I in the little plastic houses and slides. It was so nice to hear her laugh and see her beautiful smile.

We then headed in for a series of tests. Halat was given some medicine to relax her before her echo, but she seemed unaffected for a long time. The medication finally kicked in and she was relaxed for most of her echo.

After that she really showed us and the doctors how strong and full of energy she was. Always moving and talking, wanting to play.

Her test went well and her previous surgery in India has prepared her heart for the surgery she needs now. It was so encouraging to get good reports from the doctors. Please join us in prayer as we wait for the medical team to begin discussing and planning the surgery she needs. 

Halat's Journey

Posted on Thu, 02/16/2017 - 20:56 by Virginia Pavy

I first met Halat and her family almost four months ago. I remember that day well. It was the day after my husband and I moved to Kurdistan, northern Iraq. We had gone to visit our local NGO partners when the family walked into the doctor's office. I recall the great concern and despair in the parents' eyes. Their baby girl was in desperate need of surgical intervention. She was born with a life-threatening heart defect and no hospital or medical institution in their country could provide the treatment needed. Here we were in that office as the parents looked to us and asked for help. How can someone turn their backs when faced with such a great need? 1 John 3:17 says: "But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?" At that moment, our coworker took Halat's echo report and submitted it to our medical partners in Israel for consideration.

Virginia, pictured left, sits with Halat and her family in their home

Afterward I learned that this Yazidi family had escaped to the Sinjar Mountain along with many others when ISIS captured and destroyed their city of Sinjar in 2014. Hundreds of Yazidis were massacred and many women and young girls were taken captive and later sold as sex slaves. When the world finally took notice of their plight, aid and relief was sent to deliver them from the great evil that surrounded them. When the Yazidi people were liberated, Halat's family was able to leave Sinjar Mountain and eventually find shelter in an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp south of the city where we live in Kurdistan. I can not imagine the great sorrow and despair this family has been experiencing for so long.

There was much uncertainty when we first began the process to help Halat. When we heard their visas were finally approved, it was a reason to rejoice. The day for Halat to fly to Israel for her life-saving surgery will come soon, praise be to God. We have made it this far only by God's grace.

There are a few obstacles still ahead, so we ask that you join us in prayer. Halat's condition has deteriorated and she will need oxygen when traveling. Also, funding for her surgery has not come in. We ask you to pray for the peace of God to be made known to her and her family, and that they know the God of the universe loves them and has not forgotten them.