Hawnaz's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Life Together

Posted on Fri, 10/21/2016 - 17:15 by Ruth Zellweger

Saying goodbye to families who have been with us in Israel for several weeks and months is usually a bitter-sweet affair. Of course our Shevet community is very happy for the mended hearts of most of the children and thankful for the season we had with them. On the other hand, it is also quite difficult to imagine them not being with us any longer. I often think during the farewell parties, I wished I would have spent more time with them. 

Each family has made their unique contribution to our community and is dearly loved by us. But it is also true with some of them we build a very special and deep personal relationship. This differs for each volunteer and family and is part of the beauty and privilege of sharing life together in community.

Hawnaz and her father have become to me one of these special families that have influenced, challenged, and loved me more than I am probably aware of. Their joy for life, genuine generosity, and love for each other and our community have not gone unnoticed. And so it was not a surprise the joint farewell party with precious Yara and her mother turned out a beautiful evening with much joy and laughter, but there were also tears. 

On Tuesday evening our big Shevet family, including all available volunteers and families, assembled at the Finnish School for the special occasion. While the last preparations were done to make this an unforgettable evening for the families, Hawnaz and her father posed for last pictures with all the different volunteers and guests. Each arriving person was joyfully welcomed and asked for a picture. We then shared a delicious meal together, appreciating the beautiful and thoughtful decorations that had been put up. The atmosphere was good, and cheerful laughter filled the room. 

After dessert we moved on to a different room where we had a time of praising God before we began sharing with the two families about their time with us in Israel. They were asked to take a seat in the front. Several of us shared with them what their time in Israel had meant to us, recounting special memories of the past weeks. It was during this time both father and daughter started crying unashamedly, overwhelmed by their emotions. They were very much looking forward to returning home to their family, yet we could see they also felt very much at home with our Shevet family, and saying goodbye was not easy for them. 

We then presented them with gifts. Even though this plays usually an important part during such a farewell, it appeared to me, this time, the gifts were only of secondary importance. What mattered more were the precious relationships that had been formed throughout their time in Israel. It is something that cannot be bought with money or forced into existence. Instead it slowly but steadily grows. During times of trial and tribulation as well as during times of joy and laughter. By sharing responsibilites and working through challenges and difficulties that can lead to new opportunities. Simply, by sharing life together.

Before they flew out on Wednesday evening, Suhail had the privilege to take them to a place very dear to us who love and follow Messiah. The Garden Tomb serves as a reminder of God's deep and unfailing love for all of us, including the families who come to Israel for heart surgery. Hawnaz's father listened attentively when Suhail shared the account of the Messiah's suffering and resurrection, and then translated for Ainda's mother and Hawnaz. That was the best blessing with which we could send father and daughter on their way. 

Hawnaz and her father arrived early this morning (Friday morning) in Kurdistan and surprised their family who didn't expect them until next week. I can only imagine their joyful chatter and laughter as well as their thankfulness, as they are now reunited. Thankfully, our Kurdistan community hopes to stay in close contact with the family as they live nearby. 

Auf Wiedersehen Hawnaz and father. Until we meet again!

Bo Kurdistan, Bo Mal

Posted on Wed, 10/19/2016 - 00:28 by Rebekah Yang

Today Hawnaz was dressed up so beautifully and ready for her echo. We knew that probably it could be her last echo. Hawnaz was hoping that it would be.

On our way to the hospital, she was already quite excited and said to us all the time, "Inshallah, dwai echo min, bo Kurdistan, bo mal," (which means after my echo, God willing I can go to Kurdistan, to my home).

At the Wolfson echo department, she said it again to Dr. Alona and the echo technician. Wow, it seems God heard her request and responsed to her right away, because she was discharged! It only took a few minutes for her echo and the result was good enough for Dr. Alona to announce to her that she can go home now.

It was so great to see Hawnaz's cheerful reaction. She was almost jumping around to express how happy she was. Hallelujah!! Dear Lord we want to offer our thanks to you for what you have done for Hawnaz's new heart. Yes!! Inshallah, dear Hawnaz, bo Kurdistan, bo mal.

Good Progress

Posted on Mon, 10/10/2016 - 20:21 by Ruth Zellweger

Hawnaz is healing very well after her open heart surgery two weeks ago. Today's echo showed there is no fluid built up around her heart, and so Dr. Alona decreased the dosage of her medications. She also got her stitches removed. If she continues to heal well, she will be able to return home to Kurdistan after two more weeks. This was wonderful news for father and daughter, who have been really cheerful throughout the day.

Even though they miss their family and friends, and life in Kurdistan, they are very grateful for the help they received in Israel. They are working to make the best out of their circumstances. Our community is looking forward to spending more time with Hawnaz and her father.

May these next two weeks be a blessing to them.

Mourning Into Dancing

Posted on Thu, 10/06/2016 - 10:00 by Sophie
Hawnaz had her follow-up echo, and the result was good! Her recovery is progressing! The father requested to go to the beach, so after lunch we brought them to the beach for a special treat! 
Such a blessing to be with them, and to rejoice with them together! After experiencing so much physical agony, even when trying to laugh, today we could see Hawnaz's joy at being released from her pain. 
"You turned my mourning into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent, O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever."
Psalm 30:11-12

Leaping for Joy Back to Jerusalem

Posted on Sun, 10/02/2016 - 21:31 by Sophie

Just one week after her surgery, Hawnaz has been deemed well enough to return to our Jerusalem base. That's exciting news! When we got to the hospital, Hawnaz and her father were ready and waiting!

We had a short time with them, but were glad they could go back home. The father was able to rest on a real bed after a week of sleeping in a chair. Please pray for him to have a restful time and that Hawnaz will have a good recovery during the Rosh Hashana (Jewish new year)!

"Praise be to the Lord, for He has heard our cry for mercy. The Lord is our strength and our shield; our hearts trust in Him, and we are helped. Our hearts leap of joy and we will give thanks to Him in song."

Psalms 28:6-7

Improvements Roll in Like Waves

Posted on Thu, 09/29/2016 - 22:10 by Sean Perez

As I was walking into Wolfson hospital today, I almost didn't know what to expect. I was just trusting God that Hawnaz's recovery process was going to continue improving. The last time we left her, I just know she was dealing with some of the very difficult symptoms that come from heart surgeries. And let me tell you, the difference was like night and day!  The light on the countenance of her face was just so pleasant, strong, and uplifting to see.

The nurse initially said she had pleural effusion, which is a build up of fluid around her lungs (and was affecting her nausea). Of course, she was initially on meds for that, and the good news is she is no longer receiving the needed treatment pertaining to those symptoms. The pleural effusion has dissipated, she is having good contractions, and they stopped giving her IV fluids (she is able to eat now on her own).  It is great to see that she is beginning to get her regular diet back. One of the doctors even came in smiling and brought her a danish, just to have a snack when she got a little hungry.

Yesterday, her inflammatory index was high (at about 30), which basically assesses possible bacteria build up in the body. The goal is zero, but today it was at 11, as the improvements continued to roll in like waves upon the ocean shore and overtake her.  The waterfall of God's goodness then came to a climax as the doctors gladly reported how Hawnaz was able to be moved into the children's ward. With a 100% respiratory rate, for one moment I turned around, and there was Hawnaz with her father and a couple nurses walking down the hall with huge smiles on their faces.

There are times we may be faced with huge challenges, but we have this surpassing power that is from God. Even though "we are hard-pressed on every side, we are not crushed," and even though we may be "perplexed, we are not in despair", and at times we may be "struck down, but we are not destroyed," (2 Corinthians 4:8,9). And this same purpose and drive is alive and present in our dear Hawnaz as well, as we continue to be "united" in God's love.

United for Hawnaz

Posted on Mon, 09/26/2016 - 22:42 by Sean Perez

On the day after our dear Hawnaz's surgery, Sophie and I went to Wolfson hospital to follow up on her status and see how she was recovering. It was beautiful to know beforehand how well her surgery went initially, so we were all very confident and expecting the mometum of this report to continue.  Besides, just like Hawnaz said yesterday: our "God is a big God," and He can do all things (so we'd expect no less than this result from our loving Father). 

We all definitely know this to be very true, but while we are in this flesh, we know the physical part is now going to take its course in the process of Hawnaz's healing.  I remember telling Hawnas when I first met her that she is not going to have to go through this alone - that she has an extended family now. And we are going to be with her through this every step of the way.  The good news is that she is stable and along with her being extubated, they also moved her out of the primary ICU and into secondary.  That is quick and speedy progress thus far, but (to be honest) she is on pain meds to help her with the nausea that she's been experiencing.  This is all a part of the normal process, but she is in a battle physically, as her body recovers.  Please keep her in your prayers that God would comfort (and embrace) her with his loving-kindness throughout this process.  

The next step is for her to have the drains removed and with the love of our community backing her, we are in this together, and we will pursue this next step united as we await her getting better minute-by-minute, and second-by-second.  Her dad is a complete rock right now at her bedside and it was beautiful to see the passion of his heart towards his daughter.  It reminded me of how our God's heart and love is towards us everyday.  I was blessed to be able to serve by their side in the midst of this process and we eagerly await God to finish this good work He has begun. 

A Beautiful Surgery Day

Posted on Sun, 09/25/2016 - 22:28 by Ruth Zellweger

Hawnaz's surgery day turned out to be a day to remember. Deborah and I headed early this morning towards Wolfson hospital and were blessed by a beautiful sunrise. Just before we reached the hospital, we saw the sun rising right above the hospital and to us it was more than just a beautiful moment. It was like a promise from God, letting us know that He is with Hawnaz today while she would be in the operating room. 

We arrived at the hospital in good spirits and good time and made our way to the ward. However, to our great surprise, Hawnaz was not there. She had already been taken to the operation department. We quickly went there and got in without any problems. When we entered the waiting room there, we did not only see a smiling and cheerful Hawnaz and her sober father. No, to our surprise we also found the grandmother of Hani there.

I do not recall a time in my four years at Shevet that the parent of another child had been allowed into that department before. They looked like a little family. And in some way they had become one over the course of the past three weeks. 

We had a joyful reunion with many hugs and kisses. Hawnaz seemed relaxed and not afraid. When I asked her if she was anxious she said no because God is big. I had heard this a few times from her before, and her calm demeanor made me believe what she was saying. While we were talking, taking pictures and enjoying these last minutes together, different doctors and nurses came to check Hawnaz' file and papers for consent forms and other information. 

And then it was time to say goodbye. Fairly early, Hawnay was wheeled into the OR. Her father gave her a last kiss and then watched her being wheeled away. Tears welled up in his eyes and he had to take a moment for himself to regain his strength. Up we went to the ward and outside sitting area, where we spent the next hours waiting for the surgery to be finished.

I reflected on how we all had become such good friends over the course of the past weeks. We had traveled together from Kurdistan, waited together for hours in the Amman airport, had fun conversations and teased each other occasionally, as you do in an intact family. Without many words we understood each other. And all of this made this day even more special. 

Just before noon, Hawnaz's father, Hani's grandmother and Deborah positioned themselves in front of the elevators where the children come up after surgery. Even though we hadn't received any word from the doctors, they had a feeling that the surgery would be over soon. And they were right. A little later Hawnaz was wheeled back to the ICU, escorted by several doctors.

They seemed relaxed, and the father who followed them relieved, with the faithful grandmother right beside him. The surgeons told us that the surgery had gone well and the pulmonary valve conduit succesfully replaced. They added that the father needs to know that this conduit eventually will have to be replaced again after about 10+ years. 

We had to wait for over two and a half hours, until we were able to see Hawnaz. The reason was her little friend Hani whose chest was being closed in the ICU. And so, once again, father and grandmother waited together. When we finally were allowed to enter the ICU, the father hurried to his daughter's bedside and I could tell how relieved he was.

His emotions started to overwhelm him. When he gave his daughter a kiss on her forehead, she suddenly opened her eyes and started communicating.

She squeezed our hands and seemed to fully understand what was going on when we told her that the surgery had been successful. She was not in pain, but desperate for water. Since the doctors only want to extubate her the next morning to give her a little bit more rest, the nurse gave her more sedation and Hawnaz soon fell back in a deep sleep. Her father was so thankful that he had been able to communicate with his dauther - and so was I. What a privilege to be there on such a beautiful day, which such beautiful moments. I am praising God for watching over Hawnaz, keeping His "sunrise-promise." 

Joyful Anticipation

Posted on Fri, 09/23/2016 - 16:51 by Ruth Zellweger

Our dear Hawnaz was admitted this afternoon for her scheduled surgery on Sunday morning. Before we left Jerusalem, our Shevet community took the opportunity to send her off with prayer, a joyful song and with many, many hugs. It was beautiful to see Hawnaz wandering from one girl to the next, receiving a final hug, kisses and whispered blessings. Both she and her father have become beloved members of your Shevet community. 

Upon arrival at the hospital she quickly received her i.v.-cannula and was also prescribed an i.v. antibiotic due to the result of her urin-sample. The doctors do not want to take any chance with Hawnaz and are giving her the best treatment possible. 

I have been so blessed by Hawnaz's sweet and open personality and love how she interacts so friendly with everyone. Upon arrival at the hospital, she has been constantly on her tablet, communicating with her family back in Kurdistan and keeping them up-to-date. The day they have been anticipating for the past months has finally come close. We pray for God's peace to be present in the hospital, as father and daughter and the medical staff prepare themselves for the big day to come. 

A Morning at the Hospital

Posted on Tue, 09/13/2016 - 21:58 by Ruth Zellweger

Early this morning Hawnaz, her father and I went to Wolfson hospital. Hawnaz was scheduled for a CT-angio in order for the doctors to see clearly the condition of the previous implanted conduit, including artifical pulmonary valve, which has calcified over time. 

Hawnaz had just recently undergone the same procedure in Kurdistan and knew exactly how important it is to lie still and to not move. Some iodine contrast was inserted into her cannula in order to visualize her vessels. After a few minutes the procedure was done and we were back in the ward. Hawnaz was monitored a little bit longer and then we headed back to Jerusalem. 

The doctors will discuss now the results and then decide on how to proceed with the surgery and when.

Hawnaz and her father are becoming more and more a part of our community and we are looking forward to spending more time with them.