Hedi's Heart Surgery


Hedi Flies Home

Posted on Wed, 12/12/2007 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel
The excitement of going home was evident on the face and in the attitude of Hedi's mother as we set out from Jerusalem yesterday. When she returned to the house to finish her packing, she shared how much she enjoyed the chance to go to the Old City. While Jonathan and LC were taking them on this adventure, I was finalizing another part of their departure: making sure they had all the medications Hedi needs as he returns home. Once the medicine, the patient and his mother were all at the house, Raneen explained clearly in Arabic the dosages and timing for Hedi's prescriptions. The Israeli doctors use medications which are typically found internationally, but since no one can be sure a ready supply will be available in the specific village or city of our patients, we try to send them with the appropriate meds when we can. 

After sharing a tasty lunch prepared by the mother of Dilshad, we were ready to go. We were blessed with a beautiful day, and everything went smoothly and quickly at the border crossing terminals. The only difficult part of the journey was knowing that Hedi himself did not feel good. Instead of enjoying his happy smiles and baby talk, this time we rode with Hedi sleeping most of the journey. He has developed a bad cold, and was rather lethargic even as they left this morning - please pray for this to be healed quickly!

Another of God's amazing connections happened when we arrived at the airport today. Each time we send a mother and child home without a second mother and child, we seek another family who is on the same flight who can help with luggage or other issues for "our" family. Today was no exception, and as this husband, wife and toddler daughter were introducing themselves and happily accepting the opportunity to help, another man came forward and introduced himself to Jody. He is associated with some contacts of ours in Iraq, and those contacts had led him to email several of us -- and he was there in the airport! He is a pastor in Iraq, and was also willing to offer help to Hedi and his mother on their return home. Praise God!

I have had the honor of receiving the thanks for Hedi's heart surgery from his parents, and they desire that you know how thankful they are. Hedi's father called me several times to check on our progress, and each time he began and ended with saying thank you. When he called to be sure his wife and son were on the plane, he gave many thanks again, to God and to us. I am thanking God as they are thanking me because I know that apart from Him, neither I nor this organization could do this, and in fact I am continually in awe that He has given me this opportunity to touch these precious lives with His love. I told Hedi's mother when we parted that I will always have them in my heart and prayers. It is my hope that you will continue to pray for them too as we trust them into God's loving hands upon their return to their family and friends.

You will note that we've taken care not to show the face of Hedi's mother due to the danger involved for them if those in the city where they live find out they've been to Israel - even for heart surgery for their infant son. Pray that there will be no harm to them from this risky act of love shown by these desperate parents.

Last Day in Israel

Posted on Tue, 12/11/2007 - 00:00 by Lee_Liang_Chian
Like the other Iraqis who have come before her, Hedi's mother requested to see Jerusalem on her last day in Israel. Jonathan and I walked with her and Hedi through the alleys lined with shops and tempting goods. Of course, this dear mother could not resist getting some shopping done along the way!

At the Temple Mount gate the security guards told us that the premises were closed for the morning session and that we could return to visit in the afternoon. This was not possible as Hedi and his mother had to leave soon after lunch to travel to the border crossing to make their way home via Jordan.

The security supervisor was curious to know why this young Iraqi mother was here in Israel, and Jonathan struck up a conversation with him. It was heart-warming to watch this Israeli man play with Hedi, who was delighted to have his little fingers tickled, and he grasped the man's finger in response. And all parties were then delighted to learn that this Jewish man's parents had come to Israel 56 years ago from the same city in Iraq that Hedi is from!

We were able to enter the plaza area of the Western Wall, and when we came out Jonathan showed Hedi's mother where the temple once stood, and explained how it was destroyed as Jesus had foretold a generation before.

Since we were so near the Garden Tomb, we walked the short distance to the site and managed to enter the premises even though the place was officially closed at noon. Here, Jonathan briefly shared with Hedi's mother why the tomb of Jesus was empty.

After lunch, Simantov drove Hedi and his mother, accompanied by Donna, to the border. Tomorrow Donna will update us on the rest of the story....

I was both glad yet sad to see Hedi leave us so soon, but I know he will probably grow up with stories his parents would tell him about his special trip to Israel where he has received his life-saving operation... and the CD of photos and video clips I had made for him will serve to help him the understand what his parents will be telling him. I pray that Hedi will grow up knowing that God so loves him that He made it possible for Hedi to come to Israel before he was even one year old, to have his heart healed!

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Returning Home!

Posted on Sun, 12/09/2007 - 00:00 by Lee_Liang_Chian

Hedi had his echo-cardiogram this morning and it turned out that this would be his last for now. In order words, the results of Hedi's echo is great and he is now officially discharged from Wolfson to return to Iraq! What happy news for us, yet we are sad to see this "happy camper" leave.

Hedi seemed to feel the sadness of leaving us and leaving Israel so soon, and I didn't manage to get him to flash his famously adorable toothy grin, although this generally cheerful boy has a gentle smile on his face. Dawit, an Ethiopian boy staying at the Save A Child's Heart house, was also back at Wolfson for his appointment with the doctor and Dawit wanted his picture to be taken with his little playmate before Hedi leaves.

Tomorrow Hedi and his mother will travel to Jerusalem and stay with us at the Shevet Achim house for a night before making their way home via Amman.

We thank all of you who have prayed for Hedi through these past few weeks, as well as all the doctors and nurses whose care Hedi had come under. Most of all, we praise GOD for making everything come together so beautifully for Hedi and his family and even for us, for we are privileged to have a part in bridging the people from Iraq and Israel in this heart-changing, life-changing journey.

Released from Hospital

Posted on Wed, 11/28/2007 - 00:00 by Lee_Liang_Chian

Hedi 'passed' his echo-cardiogram today and is now released from Wolfson to recuperate at the Save A Child's Heart house. He had his operation barely 10 days ago, and by yesterday his condition was confirmed stable 24 hours after the oxygen tube was removed from him.

Dr Houri had given me the go-ahead when I asked if the children who have had their operations could be given effervescent Vitamin C drinks once their conditions are stable. So yesterday, I made the fizzy orange-flavoured Vitamin C drinks for Hedi and Rayan at the hospital.

While Rayan finished his drink, feisty little Hedi seemed more interested in play than drinking or eating. It is a joy to watch how young children like Hedi can easily forget their painful wounds so long as they have something new or fascinating to capture their attention!

When I lifted Hedi up to burp him, he noticed the button on my jacket even though the color of this button was black on my black jacket!

Sore, But Doing Very Well

Posted on Thu, 11/22/2007 - 00:00 by Lee_Liang_Chian

Looking at Hedi's toothy smile, you would think that he is one happy boy inspite of having gone through an operation just a couple of days ago, at such a tender age. And you are right, Hedi is a cheerful baby, curious about what goes on around him, and is even more curious over the protruding 'eye' of the digital camera pointed his way.

Nevertheless, his generally cheerful countenance belies the fact that it hurts where he has been operated on. Today, while my camera was trained on Hedi, he suddenly sneezed and immediately cried, albeit for only a short while. The 'force' of his little sneeze jerked him and increased the pain he is beginning to feel more acutely, as the sedative which he had been given after his operation fades.

As long as Hedi has something new or interesting to focus his attention on, he would forget his discomfort. Such as when I gave him a clip-on koala which Jai's friend from Australia brought to Israel on her recent visit. After a couple of minutes, Hedi started to whimper. His mother figured it was time for his feed and started to prepare his bottle while my digital camera came to the rescue to distract Hedi. Well, as you can see from the video at the bottom of today's blog, Hedi seemed to be more interested in the "steel cyclops" looking at him than in his milk bottle!

On the whole, Hedi is doing very well after his operation, except for his increasing sensitivity to the soreness from his operation wounds as well as the discomfort of having the nasal tube attached to him. It is partly because of this that both his hands are put on splints so that he won't grab at the tubes or the dressing over his wounds. We thank GOD for the quick healing of this dear child as he recuperates.

Making A Good Recovery

Posted on Thu, 11/22/2007 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

Hedi was sitting in his mother's lap finishing his bottle when we walked into the ICU last evening. But before I could finish washing my hands and get to the bedside with my camera, he was already in his bed again, and he was very agitated and crying. Perhaps it was the movement, or that he just couldn't get comfortable, but nothing could console him for a few minutes, which seemed an eternity to his mother. The nurses checked everything to be sure there was nothing out of place with the tubes or wires on the monitors, and when everything was found to be as it should be, they gave him some medicine to help him rest. He fell asleep within minutes.

The doctor reported that Hedi is doing well and making a good recovery. We can see for ourselves that his oxygenation is 100%, and when we asked about his respiration, we were assured he is doing well. Hedi's mother was reassured when we talked to her to repeat this news. They assured his mom he would sleep for a few hours, so she wanted to come with us to visit Rayan, and also Soz who, much to our surprise, had already been moved to the children's ward.

I returned to the ICU for a brief goodbye before we left the hospital, and found Hedi awake and peacefully holding hands with his mother - wouldn't you know I'd left my camera just outside the room!! He was alert and looked like he was beginning to recognize everything going on around him. Let's keep praying for Hedi and his mom as he recuperates. I look forward to seeing those adorable grins again soon, and watching him gain strength and become his playful self again.

Hedi Comes Safely through Four Hour Surgery

Posted on Mon, 11/19/2007 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

When I arrived at the hospital today Hedi had been in the operating room for almost 2 hours already. His sweet mother was waiting with our friend Robin in the "fish (aquarium) room" near the ICU.

Hedi's mother knew the surgery would last about four hours, so she waited as patiently as possible as we sat together in the hallway for a perfect view of all the patients who return from surgery to the ICU. After about four and one-half hours Dr. Katz came to speak with her to let her know the surgery was finished. He told us the hole between the ventricles of Hedi's heart was now closed, and the surgery was a success. Immediately the color came back to his mother's face, as did the smile, while she thanked God, and thanked the doctor.

Next came the waiting for her son to be wheeled up from surgery and to the ICU. Before too long, we heard the cries of a child in the hall, and Hedi's mother recognized those cries as belonging to Soz. She had been sleeping but was awakened to go to the OR for her own surgery, and was crying all the way as her mother carried her. The trauma of that caused some tears from her mother as well, and she asked me to accompany her to the OR, which I was allowed to do. Because of this, I did not get to see Hedi rolled into the ICU, but instead went to visit him after seeing Soz safely into surgery and settling her mother for the wait. I found Hedi with his mother sitting beside him in the ICU. Hedi looks very good, and is currently sedated and intubated, which is the normal procedure. After sitting with him for a while, Hedi's mother came out of the ICU to have something to eat. She came to me later to tell me Hedi was cold, and to ask the nurses to add more blankets. I did speak with the nurses who said Hedi had a small fever so they removed the blanket for a little while and gave him medicine for the fever. The nurse assured me that Hedi was ok.

When I left this evening, Hedi was sleeping in the ICU and his mother was visiting with the other mothers in the ward. She will need to rest tonight so that she can be with him as he starts to wake up tomorrow.

Please join us in thanking God for Hedi's successful surgery today! Continue to pray for him to have a fast and uneventful recovery, and for his mother to have courage and stamina as she sees him through the process. It is our hope that he will have a miraculously quick recuperation, and be able to return to her home and her husband in record time.

Surgery Could Be Tomorrow

Posted on Sun, 11/18/2007 - 00:00 by Lee_Liang_Chian

This afternoon, while I was on the phone being notified that Hedi and Soz were heading towards Wolfson for their check-up, I saw them getting off the taxi with their mothers. I quickly left the ICU, where I was visiting with Ahmad and his mother, to welcome them.

After reporting at the nurses' station, Hedi and Soz were brought to have their X-rays done. Rayan's mother also came along, glad to have some company as she had been the only Iraqi mother staying at the hospital for the last few days.

Hedi is very active, so much so that his mother was glad that I could relieve her in carrying him, and then to hold him while he explored his 'new' environment at the X-ray department. Sorry, no video to show on Hedi's antics as I was the one holding him and the mothers did not know how to operate the digital camera.

Ever-smiling Hedi has become quite familiar with the camera, and today he took a good hard look into my camera lens, as if to say, "Make sure I look good in the shots!"

If the results of today's X-ray and check-up are good, then Hedi and Soz will have their operations tomorrow. Do keep these children and their mothers in prayer, as they have been waiting for a long time for the operations to take place.

Happy Hedi

Posted on Sun, 11/11/2007 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

We had high hopes that today would be the day Hedi would be released from Wolfson Hospital to the SACH house, but the nurses reported that he would need to stay another night. While his mother was disappointed, she was looking forward to the new opportunity tomorrow would bring. Hedi's wheezing is definitely much better, and his cough is subsiding too. I missed the doctor by just a few minutes today, so did not get the chance to speak with her about whether this improvement can be attributed to the steroid medication along with the breathing treatments Hedi has had.

Please pray for Hedi and his mother as they wait for his cough to be healed. She is forming friendships with the Palestinian mothers in the children's ward with her, but misses the companionship of the other Iraqi mothers. Both Karwan and Rayan with their mothers visited them today when they were at the hospital for their echos. Thankfully we have been able to keep a steady supply of other visitors in to see them too, and happy Hedi enjoys the company very much.

Surgery Delayed for 30 Days

Posted on Thu, 11/08/2007 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

Hedi was happily drinking a bottle when I arrived at the hospital today and found him and his sweet mother sitting in their room in the children's ward. We visited for a bit, and I gave Hedi an inflatable fish toy which had been sent in a ''goody box'' to us from some of you in the US -- thanks from Hedi!! He loved it. (It is a real blessing to us to receive the items you send for the children. Thank you!)
Yesterday while at the hospital with the student group, we found out that Hedi would be treated with steroid medication commonly given for asthma associated with allergies. Today, he was not wheezing when I was there, and did not cough much either. We thank God for his improvement!

When I spoke to the doctor yesterday, we also talked about Hedi's surgery. Dr. Katz informed me that Hedi would probably not have his surgery for about 30 days. This was a big disappointment for his mother, but we trust that the doctors know the best timing for each child's surgery to be scheduled. There are several cases which are more urgent than Hedi, and the surgeon will be out of town to train doctors in another country next week. He cannot perform some of the most complicated surgeries and leave town, because he must monitor these patients closely, so the surgeries must be scheduled accordingly. Hedi's is tenatively scheduled after some of the extreme cases, and this adds up to about one month. Had he not had the problem with the cough, maybe it could have been done more quickly.
Today, Hedi's mother was asking if I knew whether Hedi would be released this afternoon, so I went to check with the nurses. As I headed down the hall to the nurses' station, I saw one of the dear Israeli Iraqi families who come to the hospital to visit anytime they know another Iraqi child has come for treatment. It was good to see them, and they were looking forward to meeting the new patient and parent. I led them to the room and introduced them to one another, and they immediately began chatting happily because they have a friend in common -- Abu Sakar (father of Sakar). Sakar had surgery here in January of this year, and went home with a healthy heart. Her father escorted three families to the echocardiogram screening in Amman last month, and among them were Hedi and his parents who are friends because the men work together. I left them chatting, and at the nurses' station, found out from the nurse that Hedi would need to stay in the hospital today, but perhaps tomorrow he would be released to the Save A Child's Heart house. When I went back to tell Hedi's mother, her face lit up at the prospect of going to the house tomorrow to be with the other families she knows. It has been hard for her to be there alone with little Hedi. But after meeting these new friends, and having visits from our volunteers, she has become more settled in the hospital. Robin, who was with me in Amman, was planning to visit this evening too, which will be another joy for Hedi's mother, and Hedi too.
Please keep praying for Hedi and his mom. They will apparently be here for some weeks yet, and at this point, to her it seems a very difficult journey ahead. But soon Hedi will be well, and ready to return to his father and family at home with a repaired heart. I believe at that time Hedi's parents' smiles will be as frequent as their happy son's.