Hewa's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

9 Teeth Removed, & A Step Closer To Heart Surgery

Posted on Fri, 06/15/2012 - 00:41 by Tara Azizi

Kristina, Natalie and I visited Hewa and his mother at Sheba Hospital today. This was my first time meeting them. I saw a concerned mother who was waiting to find out that her child is doing well. She was most worried about Hewa

Surgery On Hold As Doctors Sleuth For Answers

Posted on Mon, 06/11/2012 - 23:05 by Kristina Kayser

The last two days have been turbulent ones for Hewa and his mother, both physically and emotionally. It was our understanding last evening that Hewa could be called in for surgery at any minute if his condition declined further. Thus, I went to sleep with the phone beside my pillow, prepared to leave at a moment's notice. By 6am, Sheba's ICU had no new updates. I soon learned, however, that surgery was not on the agenda for Hewa today. Further information was acquired once I arrived on site at the hospital early this afternoon.

Relief was mingled with joy upon seeing Hewa out of intermediate ICU and situated comfortably in the cardiac department. His oxygen mask lay beside him on the bed, an indication that he was breathing better on his own. His sweet face brightened with a smile as I entered the room. What a contrast to the boy we rushed to the hospital on Saturday, dusky and breathing rapidly. His mother's countenance, however, bore a puzzled expression. She couldn't understand why all movement towards surgery had seemingly come to a complete halt. 

Dr. Danielle, a senior cardiologist, graciously took me aside to explain the situation. While Hewa's situation had been emergent the past two days, he has since stabilized and is responding well to antibiotics. Therefore, his surgery has been postponed until the cause of his sudden deterioration is understood. The cardiac team is working hard to consider every facet of Hewa's health, including his low platelet count, infected tooth, cardiac defect, and mysterious fever. Dr. Danielle explained that Hewa's state is indeed fragile, and requires special attention. It occurred to me what an amazing gift Hewa has been given. God has provided a place for him to be well cared for and a team of doctors who truly desire the best for him.

The most difficult part of the day was translating the doctor's update for Hewa's mother. As my words fell upon her ears, I saw every emotion except the ones I was hoping to see. She looked incredulous, frustrated, angry, sad, and helpless all within a matter of minutes. We stepped out of the room for a few minutes with another Kurdish mother, so that both could freely express their emotions away from their children. Both women then broke down in tears. Before saying anything, I simply put my hands on them and let them cry. When I finally did speak, it was with carefully chosen words. Their hearts were fragile too. 

Back in Hewa's room, his mother could not hold back her tears when the situation was further explained in Arabic. Her son immediately began crying with her, wrapping his small arm around her neck. He is such a perceptive and tenderhearted boy! She quickly gathered herself for Hewa's sake. Hewa finished his lunch and rebounded into a cheerful disposition, entertaining himself and everyone else with a large red balloon. As you can tell by the picture, Hewa was showing us just how much his respiratory system has improved!

I want to personally thank each of you who have been and continue to intercede for Hewa. I was reminded today of Queen Esther's response to the king's question, "What is your petition? It shall be granted to you...up to half the kingdom? It shall be done!" In simple, yet powerful words, she replies, "Grant me my life

Dangerously Low Oxygen, And Ready For Surgery

Posted on Sun, 06/10/2012 - 23:24 by Donna_Petrel

It was with thanks to God and happy relief that Jesse and I found Hewa sitting up in bed as we entered the pediatric ICU at Sheba today. He was glad to see us and gave a big smile behind his oxygen mask.

Overall, however, he was uncomfortable due to tooth pain. I let the nurse know he was in pain and she brought pain reliever, staying at his bedside to finish connecting new tubing to a portable oxygen tank. While she worked I asked her for an update, and found that Hewa's case continues to be at the center of the doctors

Hewa Readmitted Following New Symptoms

Posted on Sat, 06/09/2012 - 21:40 by Ryan Gregg

On Shabbat afternoon in Jerusalem, at about 3pm, Hewa began to hyperventilate and to physically shake. Usually he sits with his knees pulled up to his chest, which assists his weak heart to circulate blood. But today, with one glance at the child, or at the deep concern in the eyes of his mother holding him to her chest, one could ascertain that everything was not okay.

After our medical volunteers took Hewa

Respite in the Meanwhile…

Posted on Fri, 06/08/2012 - 14:47 by Donna_Petrel

A long week of wondering and waiting in the hospital finished with a respite from the hospital for Hewa and his mother. Medication is helping Hewa's platelet count to increase, but it is  still lower than normal. However, several specialists have been consulting on the case, and the decision has been made to go forward with surgery in the near future. Since he has stabilized sufficiently to spend time away from the hospital while continuing treatment, doctors chose to let them leave the tiring familiarity of those walls and have some time to refresh their souls at the Shevet house.

While Kristina gleaned the latest update from the medical staff, Natalie and I taught Hewa and Sarchil to play the card game Uno. They caught on fast and we all enjoyed ourselves during the wait. Just as we were about to leave we realized Hewa's IV port remained in his arm, so the nurse came to us on our way out and removed it while he squatted for oxygen in the hallway. At last a happy little boy settled into the van, and enjoyed taking in all the scenery as we rode home.

We've all been looking forward to this day, and gladly escorted a grateful mother and her fragile son up to Jerusalem. Please keep praying for this precious boy and his mother as the day approaches for Hewa's heart to be restored. May the Lord continue to carry them daily like His lambs, and restore them by still waters as they wait.

Hewa's Platelet Count Rising Fast

Posted on Wed, 06/06/2012 - 20:36 by Catherine Fields

In my two weeks in Israel, I have been continually struck by the deep serenity with which Hewa carries himself. As Kristina and I walked into his room this afternoon to visit, that serenity was present yet again, first in sleep and then, upon waking, in his calm, yet confident demeanor. His mother informed us that he has been sleeping quite a bit in recent days, weary from yet another week-long hospital stint, and ready for home.

While Kristina made some phone calls to various nurses and doctors to try and understand his status, Hewa woke up and I was blessed to spend some time playing with him. He is fascinated by cameras and, upon seeing that I had mine with me, began looking around the room through the lens and capturing picture after picture. Later, after Kristina had returned, he even began directing the two of us as to the moment he wanted to capture with us. What an incredible little boy! I think we might have a future photographer in our midst!

When Kristina did return, it was with hopeful news. After a few phone calls, she was informed by the head nurse that Hewa's wait for heart surgery might almost be over. His platelet levels have risen from 28,000 to 58,000, which, although not as high as the doctors have been hoping, is high enough that he can go into surgery without fear. The cardiology team will meet tomorrow to discuss his case and determine how and when they would like to proceed.

If Hewa's surgery is not within the next few days, they've told us that he may be released tonight or tomorrow to wait at home. He would continue his steroid treatment at Shevet until they call him in for surgery. If the team decides to go ahead with surgery, we are expectant that Hewa's and his mother's patience will be blessed by a new heart by the end of the week!

Hearing this news and spending time with Hewa showed me so clearly the goodness of the Lord. As Kristina and I were saying goodbye to Hewa and his mother, I was reminded of Psalm 27:13 & 14, "I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!" Please join us in prayer as we wait on the Lord to shower his faithfulness upon Hewa and his mother!

Hewa's Bone Marrow Results Are In

Posted on Sun, 06/03/2012 - 21:44 by Kristina Kayser

I wasn't sure what to expect when I saw Hewa and his mother at Sheba today. Would they have good news, bad news, or no news at all? Deborah, fellow volunteer and nurse from Australia, and I entered their room and quietly peeked behind their drawn curtain. Both mother and son were sound asleep. Their peaceful countenances brought peace to my own heart.

As I turned to seek out information from the medical staff, Hewa's nurse entered the room. I could hardly get my words out fast enough: "How is Hewa? Do you know the results of his bone marrow test? What does this mean?

Extracting Hewa's Marrow for Testing

Posted on Thu, 05/31/2012 - 23:20 by Kristina Kayser

I found Hewa blissfully asleep this morning, exactly as I left him last evening. Rest is certainly a wonderful way to pass the hours while fasting.

When Hewa finally did wake, he couldn't understand why his mum wouldn't give him breakfast or why the doctor arrived bright and early for more dreaded blood work. It's hard to explain these things to a five year old who can't comprehend the medical purposes of such things. Nevertheless, Hewa impressed me with his strong resolve and minimal complaints. He watched quietly as the doctor drew blood from his IV port and only occasionally reminded his mother that he was still hungry. Later, he looked up at me and said with all seriousness, "This IV is not good. It hurts." I concurred while praising him for being so brave. The hours passed one by one, with Hewa's mother becoming restless and distraught. No one knew exactly when Hewa would be called in for the bone marrow procedure. 

Hewa and I were playing cards when his face lit up, as if he had a brilliant idea to share: "Let's go outside to see the fish!" "Who?" I asked. "You and me," he replied enthusiastically. My sister Natalie was also invited, and we headed downstairs after securing permission from his nurse. Hewa forgot all about food and all about being a patient with the first breath of fresh air. We gazed in the fish pond, played on the hospital playground and took lots of pictures. He is usually a very sober child, and this was the happiest I have ever seen him. His smile in this photo with Natalie and I says it all. 

Upon return to the pediatric floor, his mother announced that it was finally Hewa's turn! We followed a nurse downstairs and into a special room just for bone marrow tests. Anesthesiologist Dr. Ibrahim explained that this procedure would only take about ten minutes and that Hewa would be given a mild sedative to help him sleep through the whole thing. This was good news, particularly because a rather large syringe is used to collect the marrow from his pelvic bone. From here, the blood will be carefully examined to learn the cause of his low platelets. All of the nurses and doctors were very kind, and soon Hewa was finished and still asleep. When the sedative wore off after half an hour, he sat up in bed and made his first request

Ready for Tomorrow's Marrow Aspiration

Posted on Wed, 05/30/2012 - 21:58 by Kristina Kayser

When Hewa informed us that the park was on his agenda this morning, his mother didn't have the heart to tell him Sheba Hospital was expecting him instead. He is a very perceptive little boy, however, and it didn't take him long to realize that we were headed elsewhere. I looked in my rearview mirror to see Hewa leaning against his mother, sobbing. "He misses his father," I was told in response to my inquiry. Despite his mother's constant affection, there is still a void only his father can fill.

As it turns out, the hospital was not as bad as Hewa first remembered it. He and playmate, Sarchil, were immediately diverted by the computer in the activity room. The next few hours of waiting found Hewa happily occupied with coloring, play-dough art, and more computer games.

When the time came for his physical assessment, the doctor was pleased to find a compliant patient. The only instruction Hewa refused to follow was to stick out his tongue (a common test for cranial nerve function). He simply lowered his head in a shy smile.

Hewa was soon rewarded with a mango popsicle for his amicable nature. He accepted it and ate it entirely with almost a straight face, except for this smirk. Dessert is serious business!

The last order of the day was his least favorite: blood work. As weak as Hewa is, he put up quite a fight. It took four people to keep him still while the doctor searched for a proper vein. Terrified screams filled the room, and when it was all over, he was completely spent. Once tears were dried, Hewa fell soundly asleep in his room. His mother breathed a sigh of relief, grateful for her son's peaceful state. Rest is important as he prepares for tomorrow's bone marrow aspiration. This will be a vital step towards bringing Hewa to a place of good health.

As I think about Hewa's longing for his father, I am reminded of my own heart's cry for the heavenly Father's strong love. May he and his mother also find ultimate comfort in His love. "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Deuteronomy 33:27

In the Disappointment, Hope that Does Not Disappoint

Posted on Fri, 05/25/2012 - 15:04 by Kristina Kayser

After spending the last week in Sheba's pediatric department, Hewa and his mother were anxious for a reprieve. And while the Shevet house in Jerusalem is not Kurdistan, it is their home away from a home and a place of refuge. Hewa and his mother have each been dealing with personal struggles in the hospital. The boy has missed tasty food and the company of friends, while his mother has ached for answers to her son's condition and the support of her husband.

The reason Hewa was hospitalized following his catheterization was primarily due to low platelets in his blood. This blood component contains the clotting factors which prevent problems with bleeding. Doctors felt it important to keep him under observation and perform daily lab tests while they played the role of detectives solving this medical mystery. Very little information has been given due to the fact that the cause for Hewa's low platelets is still uncertain. On Wednesday, however, doctors informed his mother that they are trying to get to the root of the platelet issue before advancing toward heart surgery. X-rays were taken of Hewa's hands and arms before being released to come "home" yesterday afternoon.

Dr. Asaf, the on-call pediatrician, further informed us that Hewa needed to return to Sheba on Wednesday for further testing. The next step is to perform a bone marrow aspiration from his femur (upper leg bone) on Thursday. Because blood cells are formed inside of bones, a marrow sample will be used to attain further information. Once completed, the medical team will discuss their course of action based on the test results.

Hearing this created two reactions in Hewa's mother. On one side, she was relieved to simply be informed after days of ambiguity. On the other side, the thought of something else being wrong with her son in addition to a serious heart defect, struck fear in her own heart. We waited at length for Hewa's discharge papers, and as we sat, her anxieties seemed to multiply. Her expectation of only being in Israel for a short time began to crumble and she crumbled beneath the weight of it. We talked about the difficulty of not knowing everything to come. She expressed her impulse to return home and how she couldn't bear the thought of being here for several months if needed. "One day at a time," I gently offered.

I hurt for them so deeply yesterday, wanting them to know there is hope. Hope, however, is something that is not easily grasped. Sometimes it feels like sand slipping through our fingertips. It is intangible and mysterious. I am learning that what we place our hope in makes all the difference in the world. Hope that is dashed is most certainly founded on things that are finite, while hope that does not disappoint is secured in the Infinite (Romans 5:2). Ironically, Hewa's name means "hope" in Kurdish. What a beautiful and tangible expression of God's love for this little boy and his mother.

So, though we are endlessly thankful for the doctors and wonderful medical care Hewa is receiving here, we also are acutely aware that our hope lies first in the Lord, and our eyes look expectantly to Him. Please join us in praying for Hewa and his mother to rest well this week and find the hope that does not disappoint.