Hewa's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Good Medicine For The Heart

Posted on Sun, 07/08/2012 - 22:39 by Donna_Petrel

"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength." Proverbs 17:22

Some good news from the doctor came like a medicine to cheer the heart of Hewa's mother during our visit at Sheba today. She has been struggling emotionally with their lengthy stay in the hospital both before and since Hewa's surgery, and understandably so. He's spent most of his two months in Israel in the hospital! I was not sure exactly what to expect when we entered the room today, but she appeared to be in better spirits than I'd imagined. Hewa's face was rather somber at first, but he was cheered by some sunflower seeds and a pack of chewing gum to call his own. 

He and Jesse told each other the various stories in a children's book by reading the pictures since the book was in Hebrew, but Hewa knew the stories well, and clearly enjoyed them. Before long he was ready for lunch. He ate part of his hospital lunch, but enjoyed an orange we brought even more, asking for salt to make it the perfect dessert. He meticulously rubbed salt on each section of the fruit, then devoured it with great satisfaction. 

We spoke to an intern when we first arrived. I asked about his condition, and was told that the fluid around his heart had decreased, and the drainage from his right lung was much less as well. He referred me to his attending doctor for whether this news might bring a decision to remove the tube today. We hoped the doctor might make rounds before we left, but when it was time to go and we hadn't seen him yet, I located him in the ICU to get an update. Dr. Oded said that since there was still some drainage from the lung the chest tube would not be removed tomorrow, but that if Hewa continues to improve, perhaps tomorrow or the next day it could be taken out. He also informed me that there was another major treatment which would determine a discharge date, and that was the medication Coumadin being given to prevent blood clots. I explained that we had access to a clinic in Jerusalem which could do the INR testing if it would help make it possible for Hewa to leave the hospital after removal of the chest tube. 

He said that would indeed be a factor they could take into account for his discharge, and if the chest tube did come out, perhaps this week he could return to the Shevet house in Jerusalem. Praise God for such a good report!

When we explained this news to Hewa's mom, she was visibly encouraged. Both she and Hewa proclaimed that they understood the importance of following the doctor's orders about the limited fluid intake, a major step towards eliminating the recurrence of this problem. Hewa's mom also stated that she no longer gives Hewa any juice, only water. Jesse and I congratulated them both on these wise decisions, knowing it has not been easy to make a thirsty five-year-old who loves juice taper off, even for his own health's sake. 

We left the hospital with gladness at having heard good news, and the impact it had on precious Hewa and his mom. Thank God with us for all the healing which is coming forth, and please keep praying for Hewa’s release to be soon. A big welcome will be in order once Hewa and his mother are able to say goodbye to the hospital ward and return to Jerusalem. Please hope with me that this prayer is answered in a matter of days.

Hanging out with Hewa

Posted on Thu, 07/05/2012 - 10:39 by Jesse Tilman

Seeing Hewa today brought mixed feelings. He was about as lively as I am used to seeing him. Upon our arrival at the hospital, we were informed that he is to have a tube reinserted into his lungs to drain built-up fluid. He is still on restricted fluid intake and is often asking us or his mother for more water. I cannot even imagine how tough it must be for a mother to not provide her son with the sustenance he so desperately desires. She handled his requests with the quiet grace I have always seen and admired in her, despite the extreme emotional pressure that has so often led to tears.

Catherine had brought a small water thermos to give Hewa with a line on it to indicate the amount of fluid he is able to take every few hours.  He was instantly happy when he saw it and asked if there was water in it. With Winnie the Pooh on the outside in pastel colors and a new style of water stopper, Hewa had great fun handling his new gift. Next, we sang head and shoulders, knees and toes to him in Kurdish and I found another smile as I took his hand to show him the motions.

During our visit the nurses told us that Hewa could eat a meal and drink some water. After this meal he would be required to fast for four hours before the insertion of the fluid drainage tube inserted around 7:30. We watched him chow down on some rice and chicken, pickles, as well as a salad of tomatoes and cucumbers. His mother described him as a hungry little bird. In-between mouthfuls, Hewa smiled broadly and enjoyed poking at the steady stream of bubbles that Catherine and I kept blowing around the room. Before leaving, we prayed for Hewa in Kurdish and English encouraging them that God is looking out for them and will be near them in the days ahead. Truly our greatest hope is not in gifts, people, or ourselves, but in our Creator who fashioned us in the womb.

Holding Onto Hope

Posted on Mon, 07/02/2012 - 09:56 by Kristina Kayser

Exactly two weeks ago, Hewa's heart stopped beating long enough for Sheba's cardiac team to make a life-saving repair. It's evident to all that the inward changes have created an outwardly dramatic transformation. I can't stop smiling every time I see his healthy pink skin and bright eyes. What a faithful and merciful God we serve! Hewa's story of healing continues, albeit a little slower than his mother would wish. It didn't take long during our visit today for Tara, Natalie, and I to discover this pair needs a fresh boost of strength. While both are weary of long days at the hospital, the medical staff are not quite ready to release Hewa. Fluid around his lungs (pleural effusion) has increased significantly in the last couple of days. His nurse voiced that Hewa remains under strict fluid intake, limiting his consumption of water/juice/soup, etc to six small glasses per day. If he abides by this rule, the pleural effusion should improve with the help of steroid and diuretic medications. If not, his condition could become more severe. The task sounds simple enough, unless, of course, you're a tired mother trying to appease a son who loves juice.

The environment in Hewa's room was somber; nevertheless, we managed to procure a few of his sweet smiles with some games and a giant bubble wand. When we said goodbye, I remembered the story of ancient Israel's battle against the Amalekites. As long as Moses' hands were raised, Israel prevailed, but when his hands grew heavy, the enemy prevailed. Ultimately, Israel was victorious when Aaron and Hur stood beside Moses, lifting up his hands until the battle was won. Tara and I shared with Hewa's mother that we, also, are here to be their support through this "battle." I trust that God will provide all the strength needed for Hewa to come through victoriously! 

"For You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands." Psalm 92:4

Hewa Walking!

Posted on Thu, 06/28/2012 - 10:15 by Donna_Petrel

I was happily anticipating today's visit with Hewa, since the last time I was there he was sleeping during my opportunity to visit the ICU. It was with delight that I learned he had been moved to a regular room in the cardiac ward this morning. When I entered he was enjoying Kurdish food sent from the moms here in Jerusalem, although his attitude was rather somber. We've noticed he usually begins a visit this way, gradually warming up the longer we are there. His mother was anxious for some detailed information about his condition. She asked if I would talk with the doctor so that Tara, our Kurdish translator, could explain the latest update to her. We were given a great report: the fluid around his heart is gone and his platelet count has spiked upwards! Doctors feel that the critically low platelet levels prior to surgery were because of the severity of his condition due to his heart problem. Now that his heart is functioning well, the body is responding with a more normal response and creating more balanced levels of white and red blood cells. In the coming days they will continue to monitor the blood counts, and are keeping Hewa on a strict fluid intake in order to control the possibility of water building up again around his heart. 

Just as we finished this discussion, Hewa asked if he could walk today. His mother asked me, so I went to get permission from the doctor. He gave a resounding "Yes!", informing us that his limits were to stay within the cardiac ward. When I delivered this news, Tara, Hewa's mother, and I got busy helping get him out of bed, slowed only till a nurse disconnected an IV line. What happened next is best shared through the pictures which show the joy of a little boy with a new life of strength and mobility ahead of him. 

Praise God for the unfolding miracle of a heart and life restored! 

Psalm 86:10 "For You are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God."


A Very Quiet, Very Thirsty Boy

Posted on Thu, 06/21/2012 - 21:56 by Tara Azizi

Even when you have called Hewa

What’s in a Name? “Hewa” Means “Hope”

Posted on Wed, 06/20/2012 - 00:07 by Catherine Fields

In the past few years, names have become very significant to me. I suppose I've always been somewhat fascinated by them, wanting to know their etymology: the meaning, the roots, the history, etc. In recent years though, the Lord has transformed my entire reality by teaching me more about the process and significance of naming. Our names in some way reveal identity. I once read a book by Dan Allender, To Be Told, in which he said that others name us, but only God knows our name and gives it meaning.

I found out this morning that Hewa means hope. As I walked into Hewa's room in the ICU this afternoon, I was blessed to see years of hope fulfilled in an extubated, alert, and visibly pink Hewa. The Lord has quite literally breathed hope back into Hewa's body and life. After talking to the doctor in the ICU, I was told that he is recovering remarkably well. Over the next few days, he will continue to receive transfusions to bring his platelet count to a stable level. He also has a little fluid around his right lung, but it is expected to drain within the next few days. He is breathing on his own with the assistance of a mask. His oxygen levels were consistently staying in the 95%-100% range, a drastic change from the 50

Surgery Day Blog: Waiting Like Watchmen

Posted on Mon, 06/18/2012 - 23:52 by Catherine Fields

I wait for the Lord,

My soul waits,

And in His word do I hope.

My soul waits for the Lord

More than they that watch for the morning

Weathering the Last Days before Heart Surgery

Posted on Sun, 06/17/2012 - 22:57 by Tara Azizi

(This post was made after two weekend visits to Hewa, on Friday the 15th of June, and Sunday the 17th of June.)

Friday: Hewa smiles and shows his teeth 

I and the other volunteers found Hewa asleep in his bed when we arrived. He woke as soon as he heard us talking to his mother. They both looked so happy to see us. Then he got his presents, which I had brought with me from Sweden. He asked me to put them in a place where nobody else could touch them. 

Both Hewa and his mother seemed to feel much better than they did yesterday when we left them, and this was a pleasure for us. Doctors had informed Hewa