Hamza's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Everything Looking Good

Posted on Mon, 06/22/2009 - 01:00 by Justin_Strong
Hamza had another echocardiogram today at the Wolfson Medical Center near Tel Aviv to check on his progress. While Hamza was very eager to get into the echo room he was not so enthusiastic once the echo began. Because of his weight, the doctors need to apply more pressure to see Hamza's heart clearly, and this caused him quite a bit of discomfort. Hamza squirmed quite a bit and needed a bit of medical support to make it through. After finishing the echo, the doctor reported Hamza's heart looked good, and said if everything still looked alright on his echo next Monday, he would be free to go home to Iraq. Hamza remains on several medications which will be reassessed next week, and doctors have also raised the issue of Hamza's diet which may also need to be addressed before he goes home.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the hospital we were able to help out Hamza's grandmother. She reported that she noticed a lump where her catheterization was performed, but after a doctor looked at it they reassured her that it would not be a problem. She also needed an eyeglass replacement after she lost hers in a purse that was stolen, so we sat with her at the optometrist to help translate much of the exam for her.

Grandma Needs No Further Treatment

Posted on Wed, 06/17/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel


Praise God, there was all good news today after Hamza's grandmother had a catheterization, although the day was not as we expected.

This morning upon arrival at the hospital in Jerusalem, we discussed the options for Hamza's grandmother with the hospital and with her, and chose to bring her home, then have treatment at the same hospital which is treating Hamza. Amazingly, when Jonathan called about it, the hospital was ready to receive her immediately, and once we arrived and got her settled into the cardiac care unit, we were told she would have her catheterization within a few hours! As you can imagine, it had already been an emotional day for her, and she continued to cry off and on until she was wheeled into the cath lab. We were told it would take only 15 to 45 minutes - extremely different from a pediatric catheterization - and after only about 25 minutes, she was back in the room.

The attending nurse shared the report with us that she has no blockages, has healthy arteries, and needs no further treatment, thank God! She has a history of unstable angina, and it is believed that the stress she has experienced with nearly losing Hamza during his surgeries, along with fatigue from the weeks in the hospital, caused these symptoms to appear. I called the house in Jerusalem to let them know that Hamza's grandmother was doing well, and is expected to be released in the morning with no further treatment needed. Hamza was especially thankful to know his grandmother was okay, and she sent me home from the hospital to deliver a kiss from her to him.

Thank you for joining with us in prayer for this special woman. Please join us in praise for how God has answered. She asked me to include two photos, one before surgery (above) and one after her surgery (at the top). We look forward to the change we'll see in her after she gets home tomorrow, and will continue to update you on both her healing and Hamza's healing.

You may help with the cost of Hayat's catheterization by clicking here.

Grandma's Heart Needs Help Too

Posted on Tue, 06/16/2009 - 01:00 by Jonathan Miles
Last night Hamza's grandmother Hayat collapsed at the Shevet center in Jerusalem, and was taken by ambulance to a hospital on the Mount of Olives. Today doctors there decided that she may have blockage of one or more arteries and have scheduled her for heart catheterization tomorrow morning. If a blockage is found they hope to remove it during the catheterization.

The cost of this is approximately $1100, and we don't yet have these funds on hand. But as we talked and prayed this afternoon we felt this is our opportunity to show Hayat--a widow these last 20 years--that she too is is valued by us and by the Lord. Please pray with us for her during Wednesday's procedure.

You may help with the cost of Hayat's catheterization by clicking here.

Fever Prompts Checkup, Medication Adjusted

Posted on Wed, 06/10/2009 - 01:00 by Justin_Strong


We took Hamza to Wolfson Medical Center today for a check-up after discovering he had a fever yesterday. Hamza saw Dr. Tamir for an echocardiogram which showed that he did not have any heart complications. Dr. Tamir did adjust his medication, however, to better suit Hamza's condition.

Another doctor then had the difficult job of drawing blood from Hamza for tests. All of Hamza's veins were bruised and speckled with puncture wounds from his surgeries, so the nurses wanted to make sure drawing blood was done correctly. Even with the doctor attempting it, it took three painful pokes with the needle, and a special machine that illuminated Hamza's veins for the doctor to successfully draw blood.

After grabbing lunch, Hamza got a chest X-ray to complete the check-up.

We do not know the readings of the blood tests or X-ray yet, but they are mostly precautionary because of the difficulty Hamza had after his surgery. Hamza remains very lethargic but he seems to be slowly improving.

Hamza Leaves The Hospital

Posted on Mon, 06/08/2009 - 01:00 by Esther_Mueller


This morning we got the news: Hamza had been dismissed by the hospital, and we could pick him up and take him home! Donna and I had to race Hamza's excited friend Mohammed through the hospital to get a chance to see the reunion of the separated ones! We met Hamza in the computer room. He smiled and was surprised to see me, because we hadn't seen each other since his departure in Jordan. Going to get his luggage he asked, "Why are you so late?" Hamza, still tired from his surgeries, seemed like a bear coming out of hibernation in contrast to Mohammed, who danced around Hamza like some kind of crazy clown.

While Donna spoke with the nurses about his medications, we played cards.

As we left our parking spot at the hospital, I heard this precious boy next to me whisper, "Bye, bye, ya mustashfa!" ("Bye, bye, oh hospital!") He took my hand and promptly fell asleep.

Now Hamza is back in Jerusalem, exploring the house with Mohammed. Unless there is a problem, we have an appointment at the hospital next Monday for another echocardiogram.

We are so thankful Hamza can be with us again and that he is doing well. Please pray that he will have no problems with his heart again, but that he would become stronger every day, so he can return home with his grandmother soon.


A New Watch and a New Heart

Posted on Thu, 06/04/2009 - 01:00 by Emily_Brooks
Hamza is recovering so well! When we first entered his room he looked up, flashed us a bright smile, and then promptly got out of bed and sat down in a chair next to us. Mohammed (above left) was with us and could hardly contain his excitement as he presented Hamza with the gift of a watch that was identical to his own! As soon as Hamza put his new watch on we walked outside with Akram (above right) and had a little picnic and then made some amazing clay creations with some new friends in the kids activity room.

We had a great time visiting and look forward to Hamza hopefully getting discharged from the hospital in the next few days.

Are My Lips Blue?

Posted on Thu, 05/28/2009 - 01:00 by Jonathan Miles

That was Hamzas question when we found him tonight, no longer in the main ICU but now only requiring intermediate ICU care. Not only can Hamza now speak, but he gave me frequent smiles, and showed an interest in the people around him by asking for a photograph of the boy in the bed next to him.

Since he must be wondering what's going on, I told Hamza that hes been through three surgeries, not just one. Hes still very tired, and also in need of some mothering. He whispered Mama to me several times (his mother is in Iraq), and also asked repeatedly for Justina, our office manager.

"And no," I told him. Your lips are now a beautiful red.


Amazed By Hamza -- And By God's Grace

Posted on Tue, 05/26/2009 - 01:00 by Jonathan Miles

12-year-old Hamza from Iraq really won our hearts with his loving, brash, grown-up demeanor as he stayed with us in Jerusalem before his surgery. You can imagine that our hearts were in our throats when we heard that hed been rushed back in after his first surgery for further emergency surgery.

So I was so grateful on Monday night when I entered the ICU and Hamzas grandmother called me over to his bed. She wanted me to see that Hamza, though still on mechanical ventilation, was opening his eyes. And indeed his eyes fluttered open and he struggled to focus on me.

I said in Arabic, Im waiting for you to wake up, and to my amazement he quickly nodded his head. The Lord is with you, everything is OK, I continued, and he nodded again.

Dont be afraid, I added, and he quickly shook his head.

What a fighter this kid is! Follow the link to watch this exchange.

Dr. Alona, one of the Wolfson cardiologists, was watching this from across the ICU, and called out how impressed she also was to see him awake and communicating, even while his chest was still open under the sheet due to his critical condition. (That was the first I knew about his chest being open!)

Today our coworker Justin visited again, and found that Hamza's condition has stabilized enough that doctors no longer feel they'll need emergency access and went ahead and closed his chest. Justin adds:

I noticed Hamza stirring; I approached him and said his name. Hamza opened his eyes slightly and saw it was me, and lifted his hand toward me from under the blanket as best as he could. I held his hand for a few moments and told him he should go back to sleep. In typical rebellious Hamza fashion he shook his head "no" at me, but a few moments later he fell back asleep.

"Much, Much Better"

Posted on Sun, 05/24/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel


I was looking forward to seeing Hamza again when I arrived at Wolfson today, but before I got to the ICU I saw Dr. Houri. I asked him about Hamza and he said, "Hamza is much, much, much, much better than he was before. We hope he will be okay now." I was very thankful to hear that. I realized his emphasis on how much better he is now underscored how bad he was before.

Before going to the ICU I waited with Haya's mother during Haya's surgery, and also had a chance to visit with Jidah ("grandmother of") Hamza. I could see from her face that she knew Hamza was okay, but the exhaustion showed through her smiles and words. She mentioned repeatedly that she could not believe how many surgeries he'd had to undergo in such a short time. I cannot imagine being in such a traumatic situation, and my heart goes out to her as she too recovers in her own way while her grandson recovers in the ICU. She spoke of how tired she is because she couldn't sleep at all Thursday or Friday nights. Please keep praying for her too. We know that it is at intense times like this that God can minister most deeply to all of us.

When I entered the ICU, Hamza was in the same location as before, as if nothing had happened since his first surgery. He did look a bit feverish, and his face was swollen. We found out that the swelling is from the medication. Dr. Sasson walked into the ICU at that time, and came to check on Hamza first. I thanked him for all their efforts to save Hamza's life. He explained that Hamza's pulmonary artery (which connects the aorta and the lungs) was unusually small. In fact, it was so small Dr. Sasson had to replace it two more times during the surgeries Hamza had between Thursday and Friday nights. At that point he said Hamza is doing well and he thinks he will be okay.

Praise God for His good care of Hamza! I prayed for Hamza and thanked God for His plans for this young man. We are glad to have all of you joining us in prayer and thanksgiving.

Stable and Improving

Posted on Sat, 05/23/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel

We are thankful to report that Hamza stabilized this morning, and tonight the ICU staff told us that he is still stable and improving. We are all thanking God for His touch and His care for Hamza. Dr. Tamir reported to us that because of the complicated condition of Hamza's heart, there was a two-part plan implemented to correct the problem. During yesterday's catheterization, he opened the part of the aorta which can only be opened by catheterization, and then the surgeon opened the other part. Without this team effort, Hamza's heart would not be repaired, and we are thanking God for the work of this team. Please join us in praise, and continue to cover Hamza and his grandmother, as well as the staff at Wolfson with your prayers. We will be visiting again tomorrow and look forward to seeing the evidence of God's grace towards Hamza and his family.