Hamza's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Hamza's Change of Heart

Posted on Sun, 09/27/2009 - 06:45 by Donna_Petrel
27 September 2009

Hamza needed another visit to the hospital this morning due to the persistent drainage from the incision in his chest. Although he and his grandmother are following doctor's orders to clean the wound twice daily, and take the necessary antibiotics, Hamza's body continues to produce large amounts of fluid. This situation causes anxiety for both of them, but they keep us informed on how he's doing day to day, and the doctors are watching carefully in response to our communication. Today's visit with surgeon Dr. Badeer was brief, with another draining of the wound, and Hamza was dismissed to return home. But because another of our Iraqi patients, Mohammed, needed to come to the hospital for a check-up, our visit lasted several hours. During that time I continued to thank God for the changes we're all seeing in Hamza's behavior, as he was willing to give to others what was given to him, and share with the little ones around him those things which would make them happy. I captured one such event on film when Hamza took his balloon to Bilal's room to give it to him, because I had not yet given Bilal one.


We're trusting God that Hamza will be released to go home at the perfect time, fully healed and healthy again. Thank you for praying for Hamza and his grandmother during the process, however long that may take, and whatever it will involve to help Hamza grow into the man God created him to be.

Another Check up for Hamza

Posted on Thu, 09/24/2009 - 07:45 by Donna_Petrel

It became clear to us last night that Hamza's appointment at the hospital today was not a moment too soon since his incision was once again beginning to show signs of infection. Dr. Tamir wanted surgeon Dr. Sasson to see the situation himself this time, along with the other surgeon who worked to close Hamza's chest during his heart surgery, and then repaired the wound last week. The only way to get these three physicians together with Hamza right now was to have him at the hospital before surgery this morning. He was on time, and the doctors gathered just for checking him out, but even Hamza, who loves to be the center of things, did not want this kind of attention. He has been very fearful that he'd need yet another surgery, and the fact that we had to go downstairs to the area adjacent to the operating rooms brought him to tears. Upon examination the doctors agreed that the site at the source of the infection which brought Hamza back to Israel was looking very good.

The comparably small problem Hamza has now is believed to be only where the skin is knitting back together, and not any deeper. To clean out the infection and be sure this was indeed the case, it was necessary to make a small opening to drain the affected area. Heading back upstairs to the ward Hamza again became very nervous and tried to talk the doctor out of going through with it. During the few minutes it took to complete this minor procedure, Hamza asked if it was over every thirty seconds or so, and when told no, insisted that the doctor pause to let him recover from the pain.

Even though it was slightly painful for Hamza, his unique communication technique had everyone laughing long enough for him to get the respite he wanted. Once the infection was cleaned out Hamza was full of smiles again, and headed down the hall for the computer in the playroom.

For the rest of the hospital visit he resumed his friendly greetings to all he saw, and encouraged the parents of healing children that they too would be ok and going home soon. Join us in thanking God that Hamza's chest is indeed healing, slowly but surely. The doctor wants to see him again tomorrow and Sunday to follow up closely on the situation. He is hopeful that if all continues to go well, Hamza might be released in another week to go home. Let us pray that Hamza's healing process continues speedily, and soon he and his grandmother can return with the assurance that God has completed everything needed for this young man's heart. As they wait with us here in Jerusalem, we've all been encouraged to see how Hamza has begun to enjoy playing with the other two older boys in fun and appropriate ways. Today he came to me and told me they were his friends, and he was not fighting with them anymore. This is evidence of answered prayer for Hamza's life; he has so much to give, but simply has needed to channel it in the appropriate behavior. We believe that love is changing those things in his heart, and he no longer feels the need for some of his previous behavior. Friends, keep praying for this special young man!

Hamza in for a Check up

Posted on Fri, 09/18/2009 - 07:45 by Justin_Strong

We brought Hamza to Wolfson Medical Center today to check up on how his chest infection was doing. After being checked by Dr. Tamir as well as the surgeon they said that everything looked good.

The site of the infection is still slowly expelling liquid, but it did not seem to be of particular concern to the doctors. Wolfson hospital is waiting to receive back lab results for Hamza from another hospital which should give us a solid indication of the status of the infection. The doctors dont expect to keep him more than a few weeks before clearing him to return home to Iraq.

Hamza has been complaining about one of the drugs making him sick to his stomach, so today the doctors addressed that problem by switching the drug from syrup form. Hamza still regularly experiences significant pain but it hasnt slowed him down much. Please pray that this pain would subside and that the latest lab tests will give Hamza a clean bill of health.

Hamza Released from Hospital

Posted on Mon, 09/14/2009 - 07:45 by Donna_Petrel

It was a surprise yesterday to receive the call that Hamza was able to leave the hospital so soon after his procedure on Friday morning. After arriving at the hospital I found Hamza in the playroom, which is his routine if he is able to move about. He has been so anxious to return to Jerusalem over the past week, but yesterday the doctors wanted to be sure he was recovering before he left the hospital again. The staff assured us he was able to get well "at home," so we planned to bring him as soon as Deya and Bilal were admitted for their surgeries. When our day stretched into evening with sudden dismissals of Gaza children requiring extra time, we joined Hamza and his grandmother in sharing the huge dinner spread by the Palestinian mothers as they broke the Ramadan fast. Follow this link to see the feast.

Then we returned to our Jerusalem home to reunite Hamza and Hamza's grandmother with the other families waiting here. Today he is doing well, following the doctors' orders with care after his new surgery incision, and again happily roaming the house to spend time with everyone in sight. Please keep praying for Hamza's healing, and for his grandmother's heart to be open to the loving care of the other families and staff.

Hamza Emerges from Surgery Awake

Posted on Fri, 09/11/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel

Wednesday evening Hamza came to me with worry in his voice, telling me the infected place on his chest had been draining an excessive amount of infection that day, and there was also a bit of blood in the drainage. After a call to Dr. Alona, we were told bring him in the Thursday morning for examination by the surgeon who would perform any needed procedures. This morning when I called to check on him I was surprised to learn he was in surgery already. An hour after I reached the hospital Hamza came upstairs from the OR, and I was somewhat amazed that when I saw him he was looking right back at me! Initially he was under enough anesthesia that the pain wasn't bothering him, but after a while it began to keep him awake, so he was given an IV drip with both antibiotics and pain medication. The surgeon came to check on him and explained to his grandmother and I that he had removed the wires which were used to close the sternum when Hamza had his heart surgeries. He did not find any problem there which would suggest that the infection was in the bone or in the cavity and tissues surrounding the heart, but instead found the site of the infection in some tissue which had died where the skin had been stitched back together. He excised this tissue, and feels that Hamza will be fine now. Hamza will continue taking antibiotics, and is expected to be in the hospital for about a week.

Hamza was restless until the IV meds began to be effective, but not interested in eating anything, which told me he was really feeling badly. When I left him he was sleeping soundly, and his grandmother was planning to nap beside him as soon as I left.

Hamza's grandmother is thankful that the surgery is done, as her plan is not to go back to Iraq until she knows Hamza is completely finished in Israel. Please pray for Hamza's healing to be complete following this procedure. Pray for perseverance and rest for his grandmother as she attends him during this period of healing.

Hamza Comes to Jerusalem

Posted on Tue, 09/08/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel
Hamza was able to leave the hospital today to return to our Jerusalem home for the coming week of treatment. Doctors are still hoping that the infection in his chest will respond to the antibiotic treatment he's receiving so his chest does not have to be re-opened. This can be our prayer target as we keep asking God for Hamza's healing. Apart from the infection, Hamza has no restrictions on his activities, and has been 100% busy since he's been back. We hope while he's here we can offer him the gracious and loving care he needs so he will offer it to those around him, for he is sometimes focused with getting his way to the detriment of the younger children. Already his grandmother is showing signs of fatigue from trying to keep up with him, and the staff at the hospital made numerous comments about his activity level.

He is definitely a unique boy who both challenges and delights us by being Hamza! We continue to pray that we will hear clearly and act wisely during the additional time we have with him and his grandmother. We believe that love never fails, and is the best healing balm for every situation. May they find this kind of love while they are here.

Hamza May Need Surgery

Posted on Sun, 09/06/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel

Another culture is being done on the infection in the scar tissue on Hamza's chest, and more blood was drawn as well. The results of these tests will be back in about three days, and at that time the doctors will decide the course of treatment. It is possible Hamza's chest will need to be opened again and some infection removed, medication applied, and the chest closed. Dr. Sasson (Hamza's surgeon) came in while making rounds this morning, and told Hamza that if he opened the chest it would not be a large incision this time. This is a relief to Hamza; for he is very anxious to get back to our house in Jerusalem. During our visit this afternoon both he and his mother asked about their friends from their prior stay with us, and I was able to make a call to one of them so they could have an encouraging chat (pictured above). Hamza asked about worshipping with us again when he was released to see some of this friends there.

Meanwhile both Hamza and his grandmother are thankful for the treatment they are receiving, and are making friends with the other patients in the ward. They also had a visit from our Kurdish Jewish friend Mazal today. Hamza himself seems tired, but is being more polite during our visits than at his departure, often wanting the appropriate affection he very much needs at this time. Please pray for us to give God total freedom to move in Hamza's life while we have an opportunity for more of God's love to penetrate deeply into his heart.

He's Back!

Posted on Thu, 09/03/2009 - 01:00 by Justin_Strong

Who could that be but Hamza walking down the arrival hallway at Ben Gurion airport like he owned the place? We picked up him this afternoon after putting him on an urgent connecting flight from Iraq through Amman to have an infection in his chest, potentially in the sternum, checked by the doctors at Wolfson Medical Center where he received his initial heart treatment. Picking Hamza and his grandmother up from the airport happened smoothly and his initial appearance was very healthy. Hamza's grandmother looked more tired from trying to rein Hamza in, than Hamza himself, who was walking around in every direction introducing himself to everyone he passed. Walking down the halls in the hospital all the nurses were surprised to see him and greeted him warmly.

Donna picks up the story at the hospital:
I found them in the nurse's station in the midst of the admission process, so that is where we exchanged our initial greetings.

From there I accompanied them to an echocardiogram, and later a chest x-ray, to help determine the current condition of Hamza's heart and chest cavity so appropriate steps can be taken to combat the infection he's fighting. Our stroll through the hallways proved to me that Hamza was feeling well enough to exhibit his outgoing and curious nature just as before. He remembered and spoke to every doctor and nurse, as well as greeting almost everyone else he saw. He asked about every patient he remembered from his previous stay, and every volunteer in the house in Jerusalem. He told me about things in Iraq and about his doctor visits there for his infection problem. However in the examining room during the echo he winced with pain during the exam, describing to me the levels of pain he was experiencing with every move of the probe, as if hoping this would hasten Dr. Merav's work. She patiently continued, but his grandmother and both of us had to laugh at Hamza's continual questioning as he asked "Finished??" every 30 seconds during this process. When she was done, Dr. Marav gave us the good news that everything looked very good with the heart itself, for which we thank God. Dr. Alona too said she was surprised at how good he looks, and said usually people with infection in the bone after a surgery are not able to do as well as Hamza, so she wonders if the results of all the testing being done will show he does not have this problem after all. In the meantime Hamza is hospitalized for observation and appropriate treatment. Hamza's grandmother was very glad to see us, but was very tired. When I left her in the room for a little while suggesting that she rest, she laid down immediately, and when I went back later to check on her she was sound asleep. Hamza, on the other hand, had been playing games in the playroom until it closed, and then had found a new friend to play cards with in the ward.

It's important that Hamza "stay put" for his treatment, so we can pray that he settles in to his room and stays there rather than roaming the halls too much!! Please pray with us that the doctors can quickly determine the source and extent of Hamza's infection, and begin effective treatment. We know God is aware of Hamza's needs and has sent him here another time so he can be helped. We're praying that he will be totally healed and made well and new before he leaves again, and that his grandmother too will receive God's lovingkindness in an even greater measure than before.


Reluctant To Say Goodbye

Posted on Wed, 07/01/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel
This morning Hamza was excited about flying from Amman to see his parents at home in Iraq. After breakfast Hamza assisted Jonathan with a project outside the apartment while Hamza's grand- mother and I did the dishes and talked in the garden. She has clearly been touched by the care they've been given by everyone at the hospital and in Jerusalem. Throughout the morning Hamza and his grandmother extended numerous invitations to visit them in Iraq, and told us many times to thank the others who've helped them through everything they've experienced. At the airport Jonathan sent Hamza on the way with a blessing, and I walked them inside to catch their long-awaited plane back home.

But even though the flight was boarding, Hamza's grandmother seemed reluctant to say her final goodbye. She simply stood there with tears in her eyes, somehow unable to express everything she was feeling. It is my hope that she was realizing how much she is loved by us, and especially by God, as she reflected on all that happened while she's been with us. We had our last glimpse of Hamza and his grandmother as they cleared customs and waved goodbye through the window.

By now they are likely celebrating with their family, eating the huge Kurdish meal Hamza was looking forward to. They have much to celebrate, as both Hamza and his grandmother have been given reports of healthy hearts. Let us pray for Hamza to continue to grow into the man God created him to be, and for his family as they enjoy the opportunity of a full life with this special boy.

Cinnamon Rolls and Kisses

Posted on Tue, 06/30/2009 - 01:00 by Annessa_Mosier

Bye-bye! Hamza said as he grabbed my hand and began to pull me outside of the office. The time had come for him and his grandmother to go back home to Iraq! Earlier this afternoon we were able to get some of the staff and families together for a small farewell party for Hamza and his grandmother. Annessa baked cinnamon rolls which disappeared very quickly as we all sat together talking and laughing. During this time, Hamza even did some Kurdish dancing with Mohammed and Deya! After our little party everyone went down stairs and said their farewells as Hamza and his grandmother made their way to the car. They both seemed to be looking forward to being able to go home and be with their family again!

Please continue to pray as they head back to Iraq and as Hamza enters the final recovery period and adjusts back to life at home.