Halo's Heart Surgery


Smiling and Extubated

Posted on Tue, 07/31/2007 - 01:00 by Jenae_Kennington
What a joy to see Halo smiling and already extubated within 24 hours of surgery! Tuesday brought great reports from the ICU all around. Halo's was no exception. Already drinking water from a cup, Halo is making wonderful progress. Maryam and her dad traveled from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv with me today, to celebrate his successful surgery. Upon arriving at the hospital, Maryam picked out a larger-than-life Bugs Bunny helium balloon, convinced that it would be the best one for cheering up Halo. Unfortunately, she and her father were stopped short of Halo's bedside in the ICU, since they aren't family members. That was a disappointment, but perhaps a blessing in disguise: Since Maryam hasn't had her operation yet, the tubes, blood, iodine, etc., could have alarmed her. 

As we were arriving, Abu Halo was heading off to grab lunch at the cafeteria and gave us meal passes to join him. We sat down with a couple of parents from Gaza whose children are both in the ICU as well. The continued "thanks to God" were rolling off their lips as three of their children have made it through surgery in the past three days. Their camaraderie is fun to see!

Dr. Eli said he was pleased with Halo's recovery up to this point and didn't allude to having to deal with the bleeding in his left ventricle anymore. Halo's lips truly are a beautiful, healthy shade of red. His fingers and toes are slowly returning to a normal pigment as well. His father proudly shows off his extremities as if they were his trophies. Take note below that his father even has a little grin on his face. I think I caught him off guard because as you can tell from previous pictures, he is not a fan of smiling for cameras.

Recovering in ICU After 4-Hour Surgery

Posted on Mon, 07/30/2007 - 01:00 by Alex_Pettett
Today I walked into the Wolfson Medical Center and encountered the unshaven, tired-eyed father of Halo. Halos father has been waiting several months for this monumental day. We dispensed with the pleasantries quickly so we could find out how is son was doing. With his hand over his heart and a furrowed brow he said, "All is well.

After a four-hour, somewhat simple surgery, Halo emerged with pinker lips and fingers, compared to the ominous blue extremities he has had most of his life. In questioning a doctor I found out that there was some concern that he was bleeding from his left ventricle. While in the ICU I watched them change the tube draining the blood and insert a new one. There was discussion about whether or not a procedure was needed to curve the bleeding. For now they have decided against it.

Please remember that the surgery is sometimes the easy part. Now begins the long process of healing. We will know more as the days progess. Please keep praying.


Surgery Slated for Monday

Posted on Thu, 07/26/2007 - 01:00 by Jenae_Kennington
His contagious smile and easy giggle continue to win the hearts of the staff and patients over in the children's ward of Wolfson Medical Center."Hello Halo, hello Halo," chimes his five-year-old Ethiopian roommate, amused at the catchiness of the phrase.

Halo spent Thursday afternoon coloring and attaching stickers to his sticker book in the children's ward at Wolfson Medical Center. Abu Halo is in good company with Abu Hossein from Gaza, who shares the same room with him. Both of their sons are due for surgery next week! Halo is tentatively scheduled for Monday morning. You could tell that getting a date from the doctors made Abu Halo's day on Thursday. 

Halo laughed as I began to help him color a picture of a bulldozer. I couldn't figure out why he thought it was amusing. Perhaps he thought it was strange that I wasn't deviating from the lines. Then it dawned on me that he was copying the corresponding sticker as he colored each picture, meticulous to follow the exact color scheme. I wish I could tell what exactly was going through this little guy's mind. But amazingly enough, I felt that we communicated a lot today through simply coloring. When trying to break the language barrier by asking what 'bulldozer' was in Kurdish, I discovered it was the same word. Phew, one word I don't have to think of a pnemonic device for. Too bad it wasn't a word that I would actually use again though!

Endurance. This will be much needed for Abu Halo throughout the weekend and into the next week, when the procedure is underway. We praise God that things are starting to roll forward for this little boy who is in need of heart repair.


Back to Hospital After Fainting

Posted on Tue, 07/24/2007 - 01:00 by Jenae_Kennington

After a fun-filled day in Tel Aviv, Halo came back to Jerusalem and wasn't feeling so great Monday night. His lips were bluer than usual and Abu Halo said he fainted as well. Between this current concern and running out of his blood pressure medication, a visit to the doctors at Wolfson became a high priority for Tuesday.

The doctors checked in Halo for the night on Tuesday, so they can keep him under good observation. When I left him in the hospital this evening he was eating a sandwich and relaxing on his bed. Still smiling, this little guy has such perseverance! He gets tired so easily, but hopefully that will change soon as he may receive surgery as early as next week!


First Time at the Beach

Posted on Mon, 07/23/2007 - 01:00 by Alex_Pettett
We escorted Halo and Maryam and their fathers to the tuberculosis clinic in Tel Aviv. The fathers needed X-rays to clarify whether or not they had TB. Praise the Lord that we found both fathers to be clear of TB. To celebrate we took them to see the Mediterranean.

I turned around and asked the children if they had ever seen the sea. They responded, "No." As our van began to turn onto the road that ran parallel to the sea, I witnessed them craning their heads, straining to see this creation that to them was only a word. When the expanse of blue came into their full vision they sat in awed silence for two seconds and then squealed simultaneously, "The sea!"

Throughout the day Halo moved in the sea and on the beach at his meticulous pace. Every movement for him is a strain since he has less oxygen in his blood than the normal child. Please pray that as Halo and his father witness the Lord's beauty in Israel, they will have the faith to witness the Lord's healing.


Exposed to Tuberculosis

Posted on Sun, 07/22/2007 - 01:00 by Jenae_Kennington
Halo has really warmed up to the Shevet staff in Jerusalem as he continues to wait for heart surgery. To pass time, he and Maryam like to play with balls in the courtyard, watch soccer on TV and do anything with the Berg kids.

Last week we found out that Halo had a positive PPD test, which screens for tuberculosis (TB). We don't believe he has the active form of TB, but the doctors gave him a prescription for an anti-TB drug as a preventative measure. Because Abu Halo and Abu Maryam also had positive tests, tomorrow they will get chest x-rays to confirm that they don't have TB as well. Most likely they were exposed to it back in Iraq, which is enough to indicate a positive PPD. Please pray that none of them have TB!

Halo is such a sweet little guy. He has an easy laugh that can be triggered by just about anything. He is very observant, and often will stay in the background and watch others. I wonder if after his surgery he will feel more freedom to freely engage and play.

Halo should be admitted later this week to Wolfson Medical Center. The first step at the hospital toward his heart surgery is a cardiac catheterization. The kids have to fast starting the night before, which is never fun.

Please lift
up Halo this week as the Lord prompts you.

CT Scan Tomorrow

Posted on Mon, 07/16/2007 - 01:00 by Lee_Liang_Chian

Although I met Halo only once in Amman, Jordan, about a week ago, he recognised me almost at once when I visited him at Wolfson Hospital today. He grinned broadly each time I called his name, and he was thrilled when his dad allowed him to take a photo of us with his mobile phone.

Halo will have a CT scan early tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 7.30. This was conveyed to Abu Halo by Um Hussein acting as the translator. Um Hussein will be greatly missed by the Iraqi parents when she and Hussein leave for Jerusalem today en route home to Iraq.

Halo Admitted to Hospital

Posted on Thu, 07/12/2007 - 01:00 by Jenae_Kennington

Halo was a brave boy today, as he went through a series of tests and procedures upon arrival at Wolfson Medical Center. His oxygen saturation was as low at 64%, but with the help of a temporary mask he was breathing at 85% quite quickly. Halo's unusually clubbed fingernails were spotted by the staff, and they grabbed other nurses and doctors to see it as well. Evidently, the extremity of his case is not seen everyday here at Wolfson!

After an in-depth echo the doctor decided to admit Halo into the hospital for monitoring. This was decided while discussing his health history, when Abu Halo shared that Halo has fainting spells once or twice a week, due to his bad circulation.

There was a lot of waiting in between chest x-rays and lab tests and everything else, so Maryam and Halo spent some time hanging out in the fish room. They were intrigued by the aquarium, especially this black fish that appeared to be the bully of the crew, chasing the rest around as if it thought it were a shark! They also retrieved a number of stray balloons from the ceiling and had fun playing with those.

Abu Halo will stay at the hospital this evening as well. During the next week, Halo will probably have a series of additional tests, such as an MRI or CT scan, as his cased is considered rather complicated by the doctors. If you're interested in knowing more about the overall condition of Halo's heart, here's a link to learn more about what he has. It's called Tetralogy of Fallot: 



First Face-to-face With Israelis

Posted on Wed, 07/11/2007 - 01:00 by Jenae_Kennington

Crossing the border with record speed, Alex and I welcomed six-year-old Halo (pictured above at far right), Maryam (age 11) and their fathers from Iraq to Israel early this evening. We arrived at the Shevet house in Jerusalem around 7 pm, and stayed only long enough to put their luggage in their rooms. The fathers seemed eager to explore the city and to take care of some business, so we headed out into the city. Abu Halo and Abu Maryam needed SIM cards for their cell phones to call home, as well as some groceries. The open-air market (called 'bazaar' in Kurdish) was our first stop. Here you can get some great deals, like hot-out-of-the-oven pita, 10 for $1. The scents of exotic spices, fish, pastries, and shwarma meat permeate the air and combine for a unique aroma.

When the fathers stopped for a shwarma sandwich on Ben Yehuda Street (pictured above), we once again witnessed the joyful miracle of two "enemy" cultures coming face-to-face as they tried to communicate their order to the Israeli workers. The language barrier with Abu Halo is rather difficult at times, as he only speaks Kurdish. Thankfully Abu Maryam is an Arabic speaker, which also helps the Shevet staff communicate with the dads. At times like this we are particularly thankful for Raneen and Stephan, two Arabic-speaking staff members who also live at the house. As I write this, Stephan is out with the four Iraqis on a night tour of Jerusalem.

Halo will travel to Tel Aviv on Thursday morning for his first appointment with cardiologist Dr. Akiva Tamir at the Wolfson Medical Center. Currently, Halo's lips are blue, his fingers and toes are extremely clubbed (a hallmark sign for heart problems) and his stamina is weak. However, it was a joy to hear him laughing in the back seat of the van as we drove through the Jordan Valley on our way to Jerusalem. He's obviously got something to be happy about, and hopefully the next time he travels through the Jordan Valley, on the way back home, he'll have even more to smile about!