Hazhar's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Patience and Perspective

Posted on Wed, 12/18/2013 - 23:02 by MadelynMiles
Upon arriving to the hospital to visit Hazhar, we immediately found Dr. Alona performing an echo. Hazhar's sister was calm and happy to greet us, and I could tell she was happy because the doctor was there. I translated Dr. Alona's assessment for her: Hazhar's heart looks perfect and is healing exactly the way it is supposed to, but a small amount of fluid build up required them to put in a chest tube for drainage. They had moved the tube from one side to another already, but all of this was normal and not a problem. The calm demeanor of his sister ended then, and she rapidly fired off several questions. My answers were calm, gentle, and reassuring. She responded to my calm with returning to calm herself.
Throughout the visit this continued, and I could tell she was desperate just to feel heard and acknowledged. I let her vent emotions to me, and as long as I stayed peaceful and calm, she mostly stayed the same. At one point, this changed quite suddenly when she became worried over how much longer they would have to stay in the hospital. Her worry quickly spiraled into complaining. I stopped her right away and said I knew this was very hard for her, but she needed to be thankful to God that Hazhar's surgery went well and that everyday he is getting stronger. I reminded her how just two days ago she was witness to baby Yousif's passing and that she had much to be thankful for. I saw a perspective shift take place in her mind. Perhaps for the first time, she processed what had happened that night. I listened intently to her story of what it had been like for her to see another child die and the mother's reaction. She eventually came to the conclusion that she was indeed thankful for Hazhar doing so well.
The nurse informed me we needed to encourage Hazhar to move around in his bed to help the fluid drain. He had been sleeping most of the day, but when he did wake up, his sister immediately went to work explaining the need to move and helping him do so. Hazhar complied, but kept his face stoic. In fact the only smile we got from him all day, despite many efforts, was during a video message from Ryan we played for him.
Please continue to pray for healing for Hazhar and patience for his sister.

Hazhar In Secondary ICU

Posted on Tue, 12/17/2013 - 22:26 by Ruth Zellweger
In the early afternoon, Sophie, Eilin, and I went to Wolfson Hospital to visit Hazhar and his sister. We stopped at the waiting room to organize ourselves, and watched as a bed was wheeled out of the ICU. Then Eilin recognized Hazhar in it. It took us completely by surprise; we weren't sure why Hazhar was out and about. We soon discovered Hazhar was well enough to be transferred to Secondary ICU, only one day after his open heart surgery! 
As evidenced above, Hazhar is recovering well, but it's also obvious he is not his old self yet. He was too weak to smile, and he slept a lot during our visit. He is, however, in good hands. His sister is by his side most of the time, making sure he doesn't lack anything. 
Please keep both of them in prayer, as Hazhar continues to recover. 

The Greatest of These is Love

Posted on Mon, 12/16/2013 - 23:04 by Rinnah Henderson

We awoke before the birds. The earth was quiet until Salat (Muslim prayer) had begun, and then the sky was covered with their voices. I too lifted my own voice to the heavens. As we drove along the highway towards the hospital, I saw night become dawn and the clouds kissed with parakeet blue and soft rose. We read from 1st Corinthians chapter 2 and I found peace in the Spirit that came to rest inside each of us.

When we arrived  to the Wolfson Hospital it was quiet with sleep. Hazhar and his big sister waited patiently in the dim light of their warm room. Ruth, Nick, Ryan, and I entered their room where we were greeted with beaming smiles and welcoming words.

A few minutes passed before the nurses came in and told us it was time for him to go. He still bravely smiled. A little warrior about to face a severe heart surgery. As he was rolled down the white hallway on his way to the operating room, tears welled up in his beautiful brown eyes. His big sister held his hand and tried to fight the sorrow that seemed to build instantaneously. His Papa called and Hazhar told him how much he loved him.

A piece of my heart broke in that moment. To imagine what Hazhar’s father is going through. The fear of losing his youngest son, to hear his voice, but be so far away.

I was reminded of Our Creator, Our Heavenly Father, who formed the heavens and the earth. Our Creator who sent His one and only Son. I thanked Him for caring so incredibly much about us, that His Love is bigger than any rose colored sunrise, and that His Love is all consuming. It is whole and without blemish.

We waved to Ruth, Hazhar, and his big sister as they took him away. He waved back and flashed a charming smile on his little face. Ryan, Nick, and I remained in the waiting room lifting this special boy up in prayer. Nick soon was called in, and Ryan and I patiently awaited them. After Hazhar was set for surgery, the rest of the team re-joined us to begin the waiting period.

And then we waited. It seems as if it would be a simple act. Yet in all honesty the stark moments of silent anticipation are somehow the most difficult. I sat with his elder sister, held her hand, and offered her my shoulder to lean on.

She checked her wrist watch, time and time again, and I don't blame her. My own heart beat in anxious expectation to hear that his surgery had been a success and that he had bravely come through. In this moment I was caught in reminiscence of the first few very special weeks of their life here at Shevet. I had the privilege of being roommates with the two of them, and because of this unique fact I got to know them quite well.

All of the sweet memories from the recent past flooded into my mind and I was overwhelmed with such a love for them both. We had all kind of experiences - good, hard, lovely, intricate. We have painted, gone for walks, danced in the kitchen, cooked, cried, laughed, talked (with the small vocabulary of Kurdish I know), breathed, and simply yet beautifully lived life together.

As Hazhar's heart was being constructed and worked upon, I realized how our G-d was simultaneously constructing and working upon my own heart. He placed within me a peace that surpassed all understanding. Although the chaos and fear could have be our reality, I was brought to stand on the Word of the Lord. Psalm 46:10 says: "Be still and know that I am G-d; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

At 1:25 pm, Hazhar was rolled down the sunny halls of Wolfson and into the ICU. The first time we laid eyes on him, his face displayed peace and his lashes were closed in a deep slumber. All of our spirits were lifted high. There were no complications and his heart was fully repaired.

His elder sister called her father with the good news and I rejoiced in our G-d’s goodness. To celebrate the surgery’s success, Laila broke her weeklong fast. Meanwhile, Hazhar was evaluated by the nurses and doctors for stability. After 45 minutes we were allowed to see him.

Hazhar's sister bought sweets for the Wolfson staff that worked on her  brother. She passed them out, receiving warm smiles and many “thank you’s”  in return. Looking Hazhar sleeping, I was again reminded of the wonders Our G-d has performed.

As the sun began to bow her fiery crown and the evening drew near, I knew it was time for us to return home. I was amazed at this life-changing event, and felt blessed to have partaken in such a miracle. We made our way back towards Jerusalem, and I was filled with a deep love, His Love, for this precious boy, for his sister and for Our G-d. Hazhar now has his whole life ahead of him.

1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Forward Into Surgery

Posted on Sun, 12/15/2013 - 23:26 by Eilin Midtbo

Today a long time of waiting was over for Hazhar and his family. It was his time to be admitted for heart surgery. We left the house after prayer and goodbyes and headed out on the road. On any other day this would not be a big deal, but after the past few days of winter storms, a blanket of snow has covered Jerusalem, potentially making driving out of the city a challenge. We waited until after lunch just to be sure the roads were clear, and as a result had a smooth drive to Tel Aviv. The sky was blue, and on the side of the road we saw people sledding down hills and taking pictures. Hazhar was happy during the whole ride, talking and smiling and making silly faces, while his sister was a bit more quiet. 

When we got to the hospital, Hazhar quickly received his bed, and we all gathered in his room. We were playing and taking pictures during our waiting time, and Hazhar continued to be his cheerful self, even posing as a model.

Both he and his sister were asking many questions about what was going to happen both today and tomorrow. It was sweet to see this little boy change into almost a young man when he was talking about what was ahead; he even instructed Kristina on where the best place for his IV would be. Tonight he will have an IV, blood tests, and then rest in preparation for surgery in the morning.  

As we were getting ready to leave, we prayed over Hazhar and his sister, asking for a restful night at the hospital and for God's protection over them and the hospital staff. Hazhar remained calm during the prayer time, but his sister was a bit overwhelmed, with tears flowing down her face. She shared with us how she feels so alone compared to back home, where her whole family would be with her during this time. This is difficult for her, and she has a great responsibility on her young shoulders. Please pray for Hazhar and his sister to feel God's peace and presence during their time at the hospital and for God's hand to be upon everyone involved in tomorrow's surgery.  

In Expectation of Surgery

Posted on Tue, 12/10/2013 - 21:24 by Marisa Schindler

If you check the last update on Hazhar, you will see it has been quite awhile since we wrote about him. The reason is we are all waiting for his surgery appointment. All preliminary examinations and preparations are completed, and he is ready for surgery. Three times we received the great news of a surgery appointment, but each time we were disappointed as the hospital rescheduled the surgery. The medical staff at the hospital are trying their best to schedule Hazhar, but right now it’s hard to find a free spot. It’s difficult for Hazhar and his sister to wait for such a long time. You see sadness and frustration in their faces, even though they really try to be joyful in this exhausting time of waiting. Please pray for perseverance and hope!  

But even in such times it’s great to spend time together by playing soccer, cooking, or going out. Hazhar and his sister bring so much joy in our community, and they are loved by our staff.

This morning during Kid's Activities, Hazhar taught me Kurdish, and I taught him English. Isn’t that a great exchange? 

Hazhar also loves to spend time with the staff by talking to them and giving everyone the cutest smile you've ever seen.

Day by day there is hope the surgery will come up. Will you join us in praying for Hazhar's surgery appointment to arrive quickly?

Hazhar's Time of Waiting

Posted on Sun, 11/17/2013 - 20:00 by Nick Boyum
Who says waiting has to be misery? Little Hazhar and his sister have spent the last two weeks enjoying the fringe benefits of living at the Shevet house on Prophet Street, starting with a staff outing to the beautiful and historic St. Anna’s Basilica in the Old City. The day also included its fair share of walking, so Hazhar can be seen taking a breather with his buddy Jesse below.
The following week, the whole Shevet community was asked to sacrifice the greater part of three workdays to travel to the beach community of Netanya on the Mediterranean. Here, Hazhar and his sister enjoyed their first “dip” in the ocean! It didn’t take Hazhar long to realize it’s quite fun to splash water on those standing nearby, which almost earned him an unwanted dunk from volunteer Nick.
When Hazhar wasn’t splashing unsuspecting people on the beach, he could be found lounging in his five-star hotel room.
But alas, we eventually waved our fancy accommodations farewell. Back in Jerusalem and still unsure when he would receive his surgery, Hazhar decided to indulge in some local art. After attending the spectacular Tower of David light show in the Old City, he got a workout on the functional bicycle installation at nearby Safra Square.
Who knows where Hazhar’s adventures will take him next? Luckily, his surgery is tentatively scheduled for next Monday, November 25th! Meanwhile, we pray for his continued strength and health as his surgery approaches.

Early Morning Blessings

Posted on Tue, 11/12/2013 - 09:51 by Hallie Humphreys
We woke up early this morning to crisp, blue November skies over Jerusalem. The setting was perfect for our drive into Southern Tel Aviv. It was 7-year-old Hazhar's second visit to Wolfson Medical Center, but the familiarity did not replace the nervousness for him and his sister. The multiple hospital visits have been preparing Hazhar for his upcoming heart surgery.
Not long after arriving at the hospital, Hazhar was placed in a bed in the hallway. Hazhar wasn't there long before the nurse brought him back to insert IV line into his arm. I walked into the room a few minutes later to see Hazhar crying and so scared. His sister, too, was upset as she held her baby brother. I walked back out into the hallway, but did not have to wait long. We all were able to cheer Hazhar up quickly with animal picture books and many smiles!
The morning was going by quickly as we wheeled Hazhar to get a CT Scan. Thankfully, Hazhar was so calm and brave that he was able to go through the scan without getting sedated! The CT Scan was followed by a long period of waiting for the doctor's feedback on Hazhar.
By the end of the day all of us were tired, but the doctors gave instruction for Hazhar to be on Tuberculosis medicine for 9 months. This week the cardiologist will review Hazhar's case and evaluate his results.
Please pray for the doctor's decisions on when the surgery will be and for Hazhar as he prepares for his heart surgery.

Hazhar's First Hospital Visit

Posted on Mon, 11/04/2013 - 23:19 by Rahel Eschler
After having a restful night following the exhausting travels to Jerusalem, Hazhar and his sister were ready to head off to their first visit at the Wolfson Hospital. Although we took a few wrong turns through the traffic jungle, we made it safely to Hazhar's appointment in the cardiac children's ward. While waiting for the nurse to be ready to take the first assessments, Hazhar was enjoying capturing the silly grimaces Ryan made at him on camera. He didn’t care that most of his pictures turned out blurry, but he loved the clicking sound of the mobile phone. Then we got surprised by a visit from people handing out Hanukkah present bags. Hazhar was happy about all the fancy games he found in there; it was like a treasure trove to him. Soon after being a brave boy at the blood test with only a few tears flowing down his cheeks, he already posed very cool looking in his sister’s jacket.
Hazhar is a very cheerful and playful boy, despite his congenital heart disease. He never got bored or even annoyed about all the waiting hours or the sometimes uncomfortable examinations he had to go through. He showed me all his energy he is able to bring up as he got all excited by playing soccer with us in the waiting hall.
The echocardiogram that followed took a long time since his heart defect is a unique one. He is completely missing the pulmonary valve while also having an enlarged pulmonary artery, accompanied by a ventricle septal defect (VSD). The doctor was very impressed that with this diagnosis Hazhar has no difficulties with breathing. She expected symptoms like coughing, infection of the lungs, or shortness of breath because, with his heart defects, his lungs get a lot more fluid than usual.
After hearing all this we praised the Lord for Hazhar’s current health condition. The medical staff wants to have Hazhar back in a few days for a CT Angiogram of his heart and lungs to be able to plan the following surgery perfectly. After a long day, Hazhar went to sleep on the lap of his sister on the ride back to our base in Jerusalem. I could experience through the day that his sister takes very good care of him and loves him very much like a mother would. Please pray for smooth surgery preparation for him and that Hazhar and his sister can feel more and more at home at Shevet Achim. Hazhar already made a special friend – our dog Shevie.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1

Tears and Joy as Hazhar Arrives in Israel

Posted on Sun, 11/03/2013 - 23:05 by Jonathan Miles

Seven-year-old Hazhar flew in from Kurdistan Saturday escorted by his older sister Laila, since their mother is no longer living. The stress of this first-ever journey away from their home village was soon evident, as I heard Laila's sobs from the back seat on the ride from the airport.

Once they were safely in our Amman office, had something to eat, and rested overnight, their mood brightened.

Hazhar and Laila enjoyed the company of our nurse Ruth, as well as our coworkers Nick and Zak who played many games with Hazhar.

The long journey to Jerusalem began Sunday afternoon, lengthened by visa complications at the border crossing. Once again Laila was reduced to tears, which soon spread to Hazhar as well.

How bewildering all these experiences must be to our new friends. By God's grace they are now sleeping tonight at Prophets Street, and we pray they'll be refreshed for their first visit to the hospital tomorrow morning.

Coming Soon

Posted on Fri, 09/27/2013 - 13:52 by Kelsey Cannon

As I type, seven-year-old Hazhar and his family are making the final preparations for his departure from northern Iraq this weekend. In stable condition and with an almost normal blood-oxygen saturation of 94%, it is a little hard for the untrained eyes among us to understand why this sweet little boy needs to undergo open heart surgery.

But Hazhar has the same kind of heart defect we see time and time again in many of the children who come to Israel seeking medical treatment: Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF). However, Hazhar’s heart also lacks the presence of a pulmonary valve, which when coupled with TOF, strangely works to his body’s advantage. Why? The lack of a pulmonary valve in Hazhar’s heart lessens to some extent the severe pulmonary stenosis characteristic of patients with TOF. And when pulmonary stenosis is lessened, more blood is able to travel to the lungs to pick up oxygen - hence Hejar’s lack of cyanosis and heightened blood-oxygen saturation.

However, the long term prognosis of patients with untreated “pink TOF” is still not good, as many develop congestive heart failure later on in life. But new life and health for Hazhar is imminent, God willing, as he is scheduled for his initial assessments at Wolfson Hospital on Monday.