Hamza's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Hamza is Homesick

Posted on Tue, 11/17/2009 - 06:45 by Donna_West

November 17, 2009


We saw a different Hamza today than our cheery, bold, take-charge young man. Hamza's thoughts were of home and his family, especially his father. He's been away from his parents for more than three months now and frankly, he's homesick. With a continuing draining from his surgical incision, the doctors decided to admit Hamza into the hospital again for two more days, so the incision could be thoroughly cleaned twice daily before sending him back home. When Hamza visibly could not contain his disappointment, one Israeli doctor pulled out his own cell phone so Hamza could call his father in Iraq. What an incredible example of compassion and encouragement working together.

Please pray for Hamza's speedy return to his family. The weariness is apparent in both Hamza and his grandmother. We ask the Great Healer to complete His work in Hamza.

Hamza and Friend

Posted on Wed, 11/11/2009 - 06:45 by Donna_Petrel
Wednesday November 11, 2009


Today was a good day to visit Hamza and his grandmother at Wolfson Hospital. I found Hamza in his favorite place: the computer in the children's ward playroom. As I walked in I noticed he was playing a game with a new friend, and I couldn't resist capturing a picture of the essence of what was happening with our families while they are here. Hamza was not only sitting with this young Jewish boy, he was also communicating with him in the smattering of Hebrew he has picked up during his weeks in the hospital. Nowadays when we hang out together Hamza may carry on a conversation in Kurdish, Arabic, a little English, and a little Hebrew depending on his audience. He has friends from every background in the hospital, and speaks to them all. The hospital setting and common experience of needing medical care causes walls to fall between the families who are brought together during such a unique and vulnerable time in their lives. Nowhere is this more evident than with the children themselves. It is a beautiful picture of hearts open to one another in the realities of life so that the mutual burden-bearing and encouragement causes special relationships to form.

Everyone has noticed lately that Hamza has been a little less visible and a little less talkative, and today I was able to find out the reason. The pain Hamza began experiencing last week was due to pleurisy and pneumonia. He is being treated with antibiotics, and it is hoped that when the course of treatment ends he will be able to come to Jerusalem. The doctors will make their final decision once the antibiotics treatment is finished in several days, although it is possible Hamza could be back with us next week. He and his grandmother are really looking forward to getting back to the house, and we are looking forward to having them here again. Please keep praying with us that Hamza returns to our Jerusalem home only when he's fully healed of every problem which has been plaguing him. We are looking for them to come back full of joy over the success of treatment rather than returning with dread and fear that another problem is about to happen. Also, continue to pray for Hamza's grandmother as she perseveres in caring for her dear grandson.

Good News for Hamza

Posted on Wed, 11/04/2009 - 06:45 by Donna_Petrel
November 4, 2009

Today we received very good news from the report about Hamza's MRI . I first heard the news from Hamza's grandmother as soon as we arrived at the hospital, then from Hamza who we saw a few minutes later, that the test was very very good. Shortly afterwards I saw Dr. Badeer who informed me that the results were excellent, showing no problems inside the body. He said that a small amount of discharge remains, but after a few more days Hamza would likely be dismissed to come to us in Jerusalem. Praise God for this good report! Hamza is glad to come back to the house. He can see that the drainage is very minimal at this point, so he knows his healing is nearly complete. It is great to see him feeling confident rather than fearful. Confidence is just what was needed today as Hamza encouraged his new friend Hezhan who had his first echo and check up after arriving from Iraq a couple of days ago. Even though I havve said it before I must comment on the impact Hamza has on people. His welcoming attitude and words of encouragement set a whole different tone for Hezhan and his mother, yes, the parents of our patients are particularly uplifted by Hamza with his words of assurance combined with his experience. Our staff member and friend, Maram, shared with us that Hamza was describing to Hezhan that you don't feel anything at all during the surgery since you are sleeping the whole time, so it's not bad - you just wake up and the operation is all over! Hamza, our expert resident patient, continued down the hall with us while we walked toward the x-ray department until he felt they were suitably built up. Then he returned to his favorite hangout, the computer in the playroom.

He truly seems to feel at home in the hospital, and all the staff know him since he is basically free to move around the ward and the immediate grounds of the complex. I sometimes wonder if he sees the hospital staff as a unique family of aunts and uncles taking care of him! It is sure they will never forget him, just as we will not either. Thank you for continuing to pray Hamza and his grandmother through the rest of his journey of healing. It may be as soon as the end of the week that we can bring them back to Jerusalem for the next phase of his treatment. We are looking forward to it!

Hamza's MRI

Posted on Sun, 11/01/2009 - 06:45 by Donna_Petrel
November 1, 2009

Today Hamza had a MRI in ordered to get the best look at what is going on in his chest. Hamza was not too concerned about it when I told him it would be like getting a big picture made of his chest, but when we had to answer a questionnaire about whether he had metal in his body Hamza became fearful. It was hard to help him understand that the machine functioned with magnets, and those doing the test must know about the way his heart had been repaired. For a little while Hamza thought somehow this meant he might have another surgery to remove this metal, but after more explanation the staff helped him realize this really was just a long session of pictures of his chest. They even settled him to the point that he was willing to walk back to the MRI without his grandmother or myself. I marvel at how God is answering our prayers, and that we are seeing Hamza overcome the fear he once had.

We were told the test would take between a half hour to an hour, so Hamza's grandmother and I went for some juice for the first half hour. We returned in hopes that Hamza would emerge from the hallway any moment having finished his test. After one hour Hamza's grandmother went to check on him, and she was told it would only be five more minutes. Another half hour later we looked at each other and shrugged at why it was so long. After nearly two hours I went to ask the nurse at the reception desk, and I received an answer which didn't surprise me at all: Hamza was not able to hold still for the duration of the MRI, and they had to restart the test again and again! We hoped that he would be finished in about more five minutes, so we continued to sit together and wait. This time Hamza did come out, all smiles, with many descriptions of his experience. We were told that the doctors would talk together about the results after about two days. Please pray that Hamza's chest will heal completely from anything which has been inside causing the infection and drainage.


Hamza Still Awaits MRI

Posted on Thu, 10/29/2009 - 06:45 by Donna_West
October 29, 2009

Upon arrival at Wolfson Hospital, I was greeted by the grandmother of Hamza. When I asked about him she immediately motioned for me to follow her. The first word I have learned is, "bosh" meaning, "good". The look and hand language told me "so-so". This is a child with love for life and people. The first time I saw him, he greeted me with such warmth and excitement I felt like his long lost friend. My only explanation for this connection with Hamza is that through prayer we have met on a higher level than the human eye can see but somehow the heart understands that which the mind cannot comprehend. Even though Hamza still plays on the computer and occupies his many hospitalized days with all the staff, visitors, and parents of other sick children, he is not out of the danger of having the gift of life taken from him either. An appointment has been scheduled for Sunday at Tel Ha Shomer Hospital, about a 20 min drive from Wolfson for a MRI. Tel Ha Shomer means "Hill of The Watchman." We know God's eye is on the sparrow, and He knows every need before we ask. However, I please ask you to accept the privilege of praying for this young man, and asking God to complete the good work He has started in Hamza.

Hamza Held in Hospital for MRI

Posted on Mon, 10/26/2009 - 06:45 by Donna_Petrel
October 26, 2009
Hamza was his usual friendly self at the hospital today, greeting and being greeted by everyone in sight. After visiting with him and his grandmother sporadically throughout the day, I was able to have a conversation with Dr. Sasson about Hamza's current situation. All of us were hoping to hear that Hamza would be dismissed soon, but instead were surprised to learn that he will undergo an MRI in a few days because he is still experiencing discharge from his chest. Doctors have checked everything they can so far, and want to be sure that the source of the infection is not from within. Hamza is disappointed that he cannot come to the house in Jerusalem, as he's very tired of the hospital even though he spends his days at the playroom computer.

His grandmother is worried and tired. Both of them have many friends and have made themselves at home by now at Wolfson, but it is certainly not a place they wanted to dwell for such an extended period. We are continuing to pray for them, that God will heal the source of the problem as He gives wisdom to those who are helping Hamza. We believe what we're seeing is the answer to these prayers although it looks so different than what we would expect. No one wants Hamza to go home without everything taken care of in every way. Will you please join us in prayer? Especially let's lift up Hamza's grandmother as she waits with Hamza until everything is healed. She really needs to know how much she is loved by God during this difficult time, and receive His peace for her soul.

Hospital Visit Not Over Yet

Posted on Tue, 10/20/2009 - 06:45 by Donna_Petrel
October 20, 2009

I was looking forward to seeing Hamza and his grandmother today after several days of his absence. He is doing very well, but after eleven days in the hospital he is anxious to come back to the house in Jerusalem. In fact he tried to persuade me to bring him home today. He asked many times if he could come tomorrow, or the day after because he wants to come back and play with the other boys. Of course it is not my decision to make, and the doctors are not sure how much longer his treatment will take. Currently, Hamza's wound from his most recent surgery is being cleansed three times per day by a doctor while Hamza recuperates in the surgical ward. The wound is getting better each day, but it is not clear how long the process will take. No one, including Hamza and his grandmother, wishes Hamza to leave the hospital for home until there is no doubt everything is healed. Hamza's grandmother is doing well, and she is thankful the surgery is over and that the cleansing is taking place at the hospital to assure it is properly healed. Meanwhile, Hamza will spend his time in the playroom with the computers and puzzles he loves, and visiting and making friends all over the hospital.

Everywhere he goes people speak to him because he has made acquaintance with them; it makes no difference to Hamza whether they are on the surgical staff or the sanitation staff. He greets everyone, and they find him later to visit, converse, and check up on him. It's quite amazing how personable he is, and the staff comments to me regularly about him. He enjoyed the visit by his friends from Jerusalem today though, and really wants to get back here to hang out with them now that everyone's surgery is over. Please keep praying for Hamza and his grandmother as his healing process continues!

Hamza Hazy After Surgery

Posted on Thu, 10/15/2009 - 06:45 by Robin_Miller
October 15, 2009

I was blessed to go to the hospital today to see how Hamza is doing. He seemed in good spirits, but I was a little surprised that he did not know my name at first. I understand that these surgeries can be so hard on the children. I ask that you would please keep him in prayer. Even though his latest surgery was very successful, this has been difficult on his body. We love this little guy, and he is so special to put his trust in the Lord. Thank you for your prayers!

To the OR for the Fourth Time

Posted on Wed, 10/14/2009 - 06:45 by Donna_Petrel

14 October 2009
We arrived late this morning to find Hamza still sleeping before his fourth surgery, meant to root out once and for all the source of infection in his chest. He woke shortly after we got there, and I was pleasantly surprised at his good mood - he was actually happy about his surgery! As I looked into his eyes and saw calm there I was reminded that many people were praying God's perfect love would cast out the great fear Hamza has exhibited about the situation, and I was seeing the answer to those prayers. We talked and worked a puzzle together in the room while we waited for the call that Hamza should go downstairs, and even when the call came, Hamza was not afraid or upset about going to surgery. As he was wheeled downstairs, people throughout the halls waved and called out to this little boy who makes a friend wherever he goes.

Once downstairs, we chatted and teased during the wait of over half an hour until the attendants came for Hamza, and only after one of the nurses came for final preparations did some emotion start to surface, and both Hamza and his grandmother shed some tears. Both of them were grappling with the difficulty of Hamza entering the OR for the fourth time, even though this was expected to be a much simpler and shorter surgery. When the nurse left it was a perfect opportunity to pray with both of them, asking God that they will know the reality of His love and presence.

Hamza's grandmother had requested to speak with the surgeon Dr. Sasson before the surgery, and he came in to explain the procedure to them just before Hamza was taken to the OR.

Hamza was a willing patient, and once he left the room, his grandmother had a good cry before going upstairs.

The surgery was shorter and even simpler than the doctors thought it might be. Instead of infection in the sternum (breastbone), Dr. Sasson found a fistula beneath the site of the scar which was determined to be the source of the infection. We thank God that it was only a superficial infection and not in the bone! The infection was cleaned out, and then the incision was left to heal in such a way that the nurses will be able to cleanse it as part of his treatment for the next one to two weeks.

When we were allowed to go into the ICU, Hamza was intubated and asleep, and expected to be removed from mechanical ventilation by evening.

This was a great relief to his grandmother, who was ready to leave the ICU to get some rest since she knows from experience she will need to stay with Hamza once he is awake. And later when I returned for another visit, he'd already been extubated and was awake. He chatted with me for a few minutes, knowing it was getting late and I'd be leaving. He wanted to know if this would be his final surgery, if he could go to the intermediate ICU today, and when he'd be able to return to the house in Jerusalem. He had a positive attitude, and was peaceful with the situation. He began asking how many babies were in the ICU with him and where they were from, his interest in those around him already returning to the forefront of his thoughts.

Please join us in prayer that this will be the final treatment in Hamza's healing process. We look forward to the next several weeks with Hamza and his grandmother while his body strengthens along with our relationships. We want to send them home this time totally free from every health problem which brought them to us.


Back to the Hospital

Posted on Mon, 10/12/2009 - 06:45 by Robin_Miller

12 October 2009
Our dearest Hamza is still in Israel receiving treatment at the hospital. On Thursday night, the day before Hamza and his grandmother were supposed to head back to their home in Iraq, he had a high fever during the night. On Friday morning, he was still having a slight fever so we called the hospital to double check before any traveling took place. The doctors felt concerned enough for us to bring him back into the hospital for a couple of days for observation, and he has been there ever since.

Today I was able to visit with him and his grandmother, and Hamza seemed in fairly good spirits, but his grandmother has been noticeably tired and very concerned. The fever has now cleared up, but he is still experiencing liquid drainage at the operation site. Hamza will see the surgeon within the next few days to see what the next course of action will be. Please continue to join with us in our prayers for strength and healing over this special family of ours.