Hero's Heart Surgery

Northern Iraq

Visiting Hero

Posted on Sun, 11/02/2014 - 10:14 by Kristina Kayser

It has been almost exactly two years since lovely Hero came to Israel for heart surgery. She has since returned to Kurdistan and settled at home with her mother and many siblings, nine to be exact. During our recent visit to Kurdistan, Ruth, Jonathan, Sophie, and I had the joy of visiting Hero and her family. The drive to their town took us past beautiful golden mountains and sun-bathed plains.

Her older brother met us on the main street on the outskirts of town and guided us to their home. Inside a worn metal gate was a beautiful little sanctuary with rose bushes and fresh herbs growing. Their home was simple and humble, but warm. Hero flashed us her famous smile and gave each one of us a hug. I had forgotten just how beautiful she is. Now thirteen years old, Hero is quite grown up in many ways, yet still a girl in others. 

Her mother had prepared an abundant Kurdish feast for us, so we all enjoyed her fine cooking of rice, chicken, beans, and fresh bread. During this time together, we learned that Hero has still not been able to attend school. Both prior to surgery and now two years later, the school has deemed her unqualified due to her heart defect. Hero told us that she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. She is very bright and has great dreams, but is hindered at the moment from moving towards them. We discussed with our friends from Kurdistan Save the Children (KSC), who accompanied us that day, some ideas for how Hero can get back in school. God willing, she will be able to attend a special school with an accelerated program to help her catch up for the years she's missed.  

Medically speaking, Hero's heart most likely needs further treatment. I saw her at an echo screening in 2013, during which American cardiologist, Dr. Kirk, thought her heart was taking longer to heal after surgery and that an additional catheterization would be beneficial. Please pray that if such a procedure is needed and recommended, Hero would be able to receive treatment soon. Also, please pray that Hero would be able to begin school and find joy in overcoming one more step towards becoming a doctor some day. 

Just before leaving Hero's home, a loud thunderstorm broke overhead, bringing in one of the first rains of the season. And to our delight, it left behind the most beautiful rainbow. May this serve as a reminder of God's faithful love and promises towards our dear friend Hero! 

“Rain down, you heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; Let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together. I, the Lord, have created it." Isaiah 45:8

Our Hero Returns Home

Posted on Fri, 10/19/2012 - 18:43 by Kelsey Cannon

Even though it's already been a little over a day since we bid Hero and her mother goodbye in the courtyard, I still have been unable to process the fact that they are actually gone. One of the reasons for this being so is that they were here in Israel for so long (almost two months) that they became very dear, staple fixtures in my mind whenever I thought of the families upstairs. The other reason for my mental denial of her sudden absence is the fact that I simply cannot fathom that I don't get to see her mischievous smile everyday, receive her welcoming hugs, or experience her shockingly strong "sonic" high fives. I really did grow attached to her and her mother. It would be hard not to do so. For anyone who has had the privilege to bask in the warm presence of Hero or her mother's personality knows that these two are special. So by virtue of their presence, it's no surprise that their last couple of days here in Israel were special as well. 

This past Wednesday Hero and her mother payed a special visit to the beautiful Garden Tomb. Both enjoyed the companionship of the people with them as well as the scenery as they learned about the historical significance of the site. 

On Wednesday we also celebrated her farewell party. And Hero really seemed to embrace the fact that this event was centered around her and her journey to health. In a combination of traits rarely seen blended so perfectly, she adorably yet authoritatively pointed out exactly how she wanted the affair orchestrated. She knew exactly who was to sit where and in what order and with whom she wanted her picture taken.

And when it came time for everyone to say a little something about Hero and how she impacted them in her time here, she pointed out the order in which she wanted everyone to speak. A little crown she received in her customary farewell gifts seemed fitting for her in this time. In every facet of the events that night, she radiated a beauty and graciousness befitting royalty. And I have to say, it suits her well. 

Seeing Hero leave on Thursday I was again struck by just how beautiful, inside as well as outside, she really is. She had a mighty struggle in her recovery from her heart surgery here in Israel. She spent many weeks in the hospital waiting for her body to stop producing fluids which would put dangerous pressure around her heart. And she patiently endured these trials while never once losing her characteristic warmth of heart and spirit. If anything, these things only grew as she grew more healthy. I admire her. I'll miss her. And just like her name implies, she's my hero. 

On a last note, I am so thankful to the excellent medical staff at Wolfson for their expertise in helping her along towards a full recovery. Because of them Hero can, God willing, return home and look forward to a life lived in health free from heart disease. And above all, I am thankful to God for his loving faithfulness in seeing Hero through up to this point.

A Day for Playing, Waiting, and Victory

Posted on Mon, 10/15/2012 - 22:40 by Jesse Tilman

Spending the day with Hero was good today. Lots of waiting was involved, but we turned it into lots of play time. Here

Good Report for the Charmer

Posted on Thu, 10/11/2012 - 20:46 by Anna Kohler

Today was Hero's first follow-up echo. As we walked through the hospital, it became evident to me that Hero had successfully charmed everyone she came in contact with during her long stay there. So many people were full of joy when they saw her, and she was high-fiving people left and right.

Hero patiently endured her test, and ended up with great results. Hero is currently in good health, her heart is healing well, and she has another echo scheduled for this coming Monday.

We later ventured to the beach, where Hero played in the sand and passionately looked for shells to make a beautiful necklace for herself.

Hero's Homecoming

Posted on Tue, 10/09/2012 - 22:10 by Ruth Zellweger

Today we went with Shad to Wolfson Hospital for his final echo. Before we went to the echo department we tried to see Hero and her mom at the ward but they were not there. When we arrived at the echo department we found out why. Hero had also been called for an echo.

When Dr. Alona stepped out in the waiting area she told us that Hero was allowed to come home to Jerusalem and that a follow up echo was scheduled for Thursday. This was great news which was celebrated with hugs and kisses. It was especially nice that Shad and his mother were there, as both mothers have spend many days together at the hospital.

Back at the ward Hero

Hero Hopeful Again

Posted on Mon, 10/08/2012 - 20:04 by Donna_Petrel

It had been several weeks since we'd had a nice long visit with Hero and her mother, so Ruth and I were excited to see them yesterday morning! When we arrived, the door to her room in the ward was closed, so we knocked before entering. To our delight, we were invited to enter just as the chest tube was taken from Hero's side - at last!! Praise God, Hero has improved and looks quite well. Both she and her mother were as happy to see us as we were to see them, and especially since we could celebrate together the removal of the drainage tube. We brought a paint set for Hero to enjoy, and she set to work right away, hardly wanting to pause to share some fresh, home-cooked Kurdish food made by the other mothers in the Shevet house in Jerusalem. However, once her mother prepared her a plate, she thoroughly enjoyed it and even asked for seconds. Meanwhile, the hospital lunch tray was delivered, and Hero and her mom offered that to Ruth and I. We accepted their hospitality, and had a great time of fellowship over our unique meals. 

Hero and her mother had requests for several pictures yesterday, one of which was of their roommates from Romania. We were glad to catch up on some photos too, so we can show you how great Hero is looking these days. We are hoping that she can return to Jerusalem tomorrow, after results of blood work and another echocardiogram are completed. Join us in thanking God for Hero's progress and her returning strength, as we look forward to her complete healing.

A Weary Hero

Posted on Sun, 09/30/2012 - 21:16 by Anna Kohler

Hero has a contagious smile. When we went to visit her today, we were warmly greeted by her luminous ear to ear grin. Laughter filled the air as we conversed, and I had the opportunity to take Hero on a little walk. This joyous fellowship was interrupted when we were told that it was still unsure when she would be able to leave the hospital, or even be able to have her drainage tube removed. At this point, Hero's smile weakened, and her mother began to cry. They are weary and wish to see their family soon. But as we said our goodbyes and started to leave, Hero and her mother still left us with thankful heart, hoping for the best. 

Hero Feeling Down

Posted on Tue, 09/25/2012 - 17:47 by Donna_Petrel

A hope-filled call to Wolfson this morning indicating that Hero would be coming home today turned into disappointment when nurses reported that yesterday's fever was a result of more fluid. Previously, Hero had fluid on her left side, now there is some on the right, necessitating another drainage tube. I knew we'd find a discouraged girl when we arrived for a visit, but hoped we could offer supportive encouragement to both her and her mother. A sleeping Hero awoke upon our

A Mother's Love For The Lost Sheep

Posted on Sun, 09/23/2012 - 22:39 by Tabea Schnidrig

This morning when we arrived at the hospital, we found Hero and her mother waiting for Hero

Many Nice Things For Hero

Posted on Wed, 09/19/2012 - 21:25 by Hannes-Christoph Buchmann

Today Hero left the intermediate ICU and went to the normal children