Hamza's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Three Emergency Procedures In 24 Hours

Posted on Fri, 05/22/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel

We've had staff at the hospital throughout the day with Hamza's grandmother as Hamza has undergone three procedures in the last 24 hours. We found out this afternoon that he'd become critical during the night and had a surgery then, followed by the catheterization this morning, and then another surgery this evening. Jonathan just talked with the doctors and called from the ICU to report that the surgery went well, and they are hopeful, but currently Hamza is not stable. We assured them we would be praying as they continue their work though the night. Hamza's grandmother is somewhat encouraged after spending much of the last 24 hours in tears. Please join us as we continue lifting Hamza, the Wolfson staff, and Hamza's grandmother, before the throne of grace.

Already Extubated; Groggy But Still Sweet

Posted on Thu, 05/21/2009 - 07:45 by Donna_Petrel

Justin and I made a brief visit to Hamza and his grandmother this afternoon when we had completed Mohammed's trip to the dentist. Because Mohammed could not go in to see his friends, we asked if Akram could come outside to see us, and this was a treat for Mohammed although he was hoping to see Hamza. We were thankful to find that Hamza had already been extubated and was receiving oxygen only through a mask. He is allowed to sip water from a sponge so far, but should be able to begin eating and drinking normally soon. He was sleeping when I entered, but when I spoke his name he awoke and smiled. Although it may sound unusual to say this, even in his groggy state Hamza had a sweet disposition and seemed very satisfied, as if realizing that what his body needed had been fulfilled. He was not complaining of pain or agitated in any way as is often the case with older patients.

Jidah ("grandmother of") Hamza was not in the ICU so I went to find her in the ward. She was visiting with Akram's mother, and today has a big smile on her face knowing that Hamza is doing well. She had a few more tears but this time they were tears of gratitude for help received to save the life of her grandson. It is our honor to direct these thanks to God Himself who has made this possible. Let's continue praying together for Hamza's recovery, and his grandmother's perseverance until they can come back to Jerusalem for the final leg of their stay.

Complicated Surgery Goes Very Well

Posted on Wed, 05/20/2009 - 07:45 by Donna_Petrel

Hamza and his grandmother were already downstairs in the pre-op waiting room when I arrived just after 7:00 this morning. Both of them were grateful to see a friendly face during such an emotional time, but Jidah ("grandmother of") Hamza was especially glad for the support. In spite of the seriousness of his surgery, Hamza was smiling and happy to go, knowing it would be a life-changing event. Several of the doctors and nurses checking on signed forms and medications and readiness before surgery commented on his amazing disposition; one doctor in training with the Save A Child's Heart program said he'd never seen a child who was happy before surgery.

As the time approached for Hamza to go, I prayed for him and Jidah Hamza, agreeing with a comment she made in response to a nurse's inquiry about her well-being since they were not in Iraq for this surgery. She said even though they were not in Iraq with their family, "God is here." Even as he was wheeled toward the operating room out of our sight, Hamza was upbeat, though sobered a bit by his grandmother's tears at their parting.

Late this morning I asked one of the doctors when we might expect Hamza to be brought upstairs, and she said it would be a long surgery. With this in mind we spent the long wait taking walks, and visiting with other mothers in the ward. I was thankful that Jidah Hamza felt up to eating so she will keep her strength up during the coming days as she cares for Hamza.

Just before 3 PM we saw Hamza being wheeled down the hall toward the ICU, and were able to follow him for a few minutes and hear from the operating room staff that he had a successful surgery.

While he was being connected to oxygen and the necessary medications and tubes in the ICU, Dr. Sasson came upstairs and told us that Hamza had a very good surgery. Another ICU doctor who'd been in the surgery passed by a few minutes later, saying that even though Hamza's case was a very complicated Tetralogy of Fallot, he had done very well, and everyone was pleased with the outcome. Jidah Hamza was thankful and emotional, and went to say a prayer of thanks. When she returned we were able to enter the ICU to see Hamza for a short visit.

Again the doctors told us that the surgery went very well, and unless he has a setback, Hamza will be extubated tomorrow and begin to wake up.

When I returned to the house this evening, Mohammed, who is waiting now for his surgery next week, asked me if his friend Hamza could talk yet. We all look forward to tomorrow when Hamza is awake and can talk again to his friend by phone. Please thank God with us for bringing Hamza through his surgery, and pray for his full recovery.

Hamza The Charmer Prepares For Surgery

Posted on Tue, 05/19/2009 - 01:00 by Vickie_Herrick

Finally after waiting several weeks an eager, yet subdued Hamza left the Shevet guest house for his long awaited surgery. Since my arrival as a guest at Shevet house in Jerusalem a little less than a week ago, Hamza has been a joyful bundle of cheer to all the staff and guests.

His sparkly personality has made him a real charmer, as he boldy shared his few English words with me. I can only guess as to the thoughts running through in his little mind as we shared the back seat together on our hour drive to Tel Aviv. Several times he put is hand on my knee and held my hand as if seeking support for such a brave heart... always with the same giant grin.

Upon arrival he immediately perked up as he and his grandmother recognized the nurses and hospital staff from his previous visit. He immediately asked his social worker if his scar were going to be bigpointing the entire length of his torso. She laughingly replied shwea (little), drawing a small line down the upper chest.

This seemed to put him at ease as he returned to his usual exploring the halls and rooms of the colorful childrens ward at WolfsonMedicalCenter. Pray for Gods guidance and the doctors success in his scheduled surgery tomorrow.

Admitted To Hospital For Catheterization

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

Today Hamza went to Wolfson for admission for his heart catheterization, full of his usual zeal for everything. Justina noted yesterday that after several discussions in recent days about the coming procedure, Hamza announced that he was ready and wanted to go for his operation. This morning he came downstairs while we were still having our daily prayer and planning time, and seeing that we were not ready, he decided to stand quietly waiting just outside the door. He waited patiently for quite some time for us to finish, and then joined us as if rallying us to get going.

When we arrived at the hospital, he entered the ward ready to have the required (and often dreaded) blood test, and hardly flinched during the procedure, remaining brave and strong even though the nurse had to help the blood come out by squeezing Hamza's arm for the necessary amount to be collected.

Following the blood test, Hamza visited with Akram, who he remembered from the echocardiogram screening in Amman last fall. Both he and Mohammed were assigned beds in the same room with Akram, so that became his 'home base' as he began to explore his surroundings. Before long he was confidently wandering between his room and the playroom, and making occasional stops in the nurses' station.

He is a child who, as the saying goes, never meets a stranger, and usually leaves everyone with a hug or a statement of love and/or thanks.

Please pray for Hamza as he comes to the time of the catheterization tomorrow when fear is likely to come to the surface. His grandmother is doing well with the reality that Hamza's opportunity is at hand. It is possible that Hamza will be scheduled for surgery in the immediate future based on the results of the catheterization. May God's hand be upon him, and the attending medical staff, to bring forth great results for this special young man.

Dancing With The "Enemy"

Posted on Mon, 05/04/2009 - 01:00 by Justin_Strong

Hamza joined us for an ice cream outing tonight for Mohammeds ninth birthday. We spent the walk down the street practicing his counting in English, and as we approached the shop he shouted, Ice cream! Hamza tried half a dozen samples before settling on a vanilla cone. After everyone got their ice cream we all gathered around Mohammed and sang Happy Birthday to him.

While we were eating we heard some music playing across the street and noticed several people dancing, so we all decided to go over to see what the commotion was about. It turned out to be a number of Orthodox Jewish men dancing to some Hebrew music, a sight the Iraqis had certainly not seen before. Hamza lost little time, being as forward as he is, and within minutes he jumped in and began dancing with them. (Follow this link to play a video clip.)

After seeing Hamza dancing, Mohammed joined in as well, and in a few moments time Hamza, Mohammed and the man were all dancing together hand in hand. It is not every day you hear about Israeli Orthodox Jews and Iraqi Muslims dancing together in the streets, but these kids, when spinning in circles with this man, were not weighed down with any of the thoughts that perhaps enter our minds. Instead, in the arms of a supposed enemy they thought to do nothing but smile and laugh.

Heading Home After a Day at the Beach

Posted on Thu, 01/29/2009 - 00:00 by Justin_Strong
Hamza had his final echo today, which showed that his heart is healthy enough for him to return home to Iraq. Hamza will need to remain on heart medication for 3 months when he is home, but afterward he should experience no further problems. To celebrate Hamza's release we brought him to the beach with us where he had a great time playing in the waves and sand, even though he got caught off guard by the waves and was knocked down a few times.

If everything goes according to plan he will leave for Jordan Tuesday and catch a flight to Iraq on Wednesday.

Friendly Hamza Reaches Israel

Posted on Tue, 01/27/2009 - 00:00 by Justin_Strong

Hamza arrived safely into Israel late last night after arriving in Jordan from Iraq just the day before. Hamza and his grandmother who is with him are from the same part of Iraq to which the prophet Jonah was called, and are undertaking the same journey, only in reverse, and hopefully with one fewer whale. For them to come to Israel from Iraq requires a great deal of courage, and indeed trust, being that Hamza's very life is in the hands of a people he has never met and about whom he has certainly not heard good things by most of his culture. May we pray that God would reward their courage and that they might draw nearer to Him and the people of Israel through this step of faith.

Hamza is extremely friendly with everyone he meets and is incredibly curious. At the border he was walking up to all the guards just to check them out, repeating the few words of Arabic he knew to them, which made the crossing very stressful for me, but thankfully the guards were mostly amused by his curiosity and forwardness.

When we went to the hospital today for an intake he was very fascinated with all the doctors, nurses and their equipment and smiled through just about the entire process. Even after the pain of having his blood drawn and having his chest pressed on forcefully by the echocardiogram probe, he immediately returned to smiling and laughing afterward. Before we left he was sure to check over all his paperwork and try out the stethoscope. He seemed to bring cheer to everyone around him. It's a good thing Hamza is so positive because he had the most extensive echo I have witnessed, taking no less than an hour and possibly longer.

They normally range between 10 and 20 minutes. It's possible that some of the length was due to his weight, or because of an obscure location of the problem, with doctors conferring with one another over a plastic heart model to clarify it. Because the Israel Independence Day holiday has made our Gaza patients unavailable to us this week, there is a good chance Hamza will be able to undergo his surgery in as little as two or three days.


New Hope For Hamza

Posted on Tue, 01/27/2009 - 00:00 by Alex_Pettett

When I pushed open the ICU doors at Wolfson hospital today, I was greeted by the faintest wave from a boy who almost lost his life just five days ago. Hamza's weak wave became a brief smile that flashed across his face for just a moment. He quickly returned to taking deep breaths from his oxygen mask. His chest was closed and he had been extubated just that morning. As we held hands I asked him if he was in any pain and he rolled his eyes with a dismissive "I'm too tough for pain" attitude. After our brief interaction Hamza closed his eyes again.

Soon after, his grandmother came in grieving the theft of her purse. It apparently was stolen out of one of the rooms in the regular ward of the hospital. In it was money, mobile phone, her new digital camera, her heart medication and Iraq IDs (but not passports thankfully!). Please be praying that we are able to somehow recover these losses.

Still, despite the theft of her purse, there is nothing that compares to the new gift of life for Hamza. Glory to our Lord for Hamza's continued recovery!


Hamza Leaves Hospital, Enjoys Church Meeting

Posted on Wed, 01/07/2009 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

Hamza was patiently waiting for us this afternoon when we arrived to bring him and Mohammed back to Jerusalem after their catheterizations. He told us first thing that he had a big bruise on his thigh at the site of the entrance of the heart catheter, and therefore was moving slowly. He didn't complain about this, but simply wanted us to know about it. It did not stop him from making the rounds of nurses, doctors and friends to bid them farewell before he left. Everyone said the same thing about him: they love him! He has quite an engaging personality, and even at his young age, somewhat the air of a dignitary passing through by the attention he manages to attract.

After we arrived at home he found out there was a meeting tonight at an Arabic congregation, and he was pleased and excited to be able to go. He asked us to take his picture as we entered the grounds. Both he and Mohammed enjoyed the worship, and Hamza listened intently to the message which he understood easily as an Arabic speaker himself. After the message anyone who wanted prayer was asked to come forward, and Hamza was one of the first to respond. He was intent as he was prayed for, and I couldn't help but hope that just as he seems to grasp deeply other things about life, he would also have a deep revelation from God about what he was experiencing tonight. Before we left the building he was both asking and telling us about wanting to come back again. Then, like a little gentleman, he directed the women to go ahead of him as we walked to the car, and he limped his way along without complaint alongside us, talking about God all the way. We're thankful for the opportunity to have Hamza and his grandmother with us, and look forward to all the things God has planned to bless their lives. Please join us in prayer toward this goal.