Hezhan's Heart Surgery


Thumbnail: 
Hezhan
From: 
northern Iraq

Hezhan Still Sleeping And Stable

Posted on Fri, 05/27/2011 - 01:00 by Natalie Wisely
A general peace seems to have settled over Hezhans parents. Even though they still take turns staying at the hospital overnight to keep watch over their son, they seem more relaxed and very hopeful. When we arrived this morning, Hezhans father greeted us at the door and quickly told us all was bash (good). We all breathed a sigh of relief and joyful smiles were exchanged. It was good to hear that he is doing well and we all look forward to the day when he is completely well. 
 
The doctor we spoke with today reflected the optimistic attitude of Hezhans parents. He told us that after two very critical post-operative days, Hezhan seems to be doing well now. He is stable and the doctors are very pleased with his condition.
For now, Hezhan remains asleep in the ICU. When the doctors tried to bring him out from under the anesthesia yesterday, Hezhan started flailing his arms and legs, trying to pull out the tubes going into his mouth and nose. If that is any indication of how Hezhan is doing, I would say this boy is ready to get up and take on the world! But for now, a little more recovery time is needed. The doctors have decided to keep him asleep until Saturday afternoon when they will again try to slowly take him off the sedative. Based on how he reacts Saturday, they will decide what the next steps will be in his recovery process.
 
We continue to watch as God does an amazing work on the physical and spiritual hearts of this family. Yes, Hezhan is getting a new heart that will pump blood through his body and give him the energy to do all the things we take for granted. But more than that, he and his parents are hearing about the transforming surgery Jesus can do. I pray we will see incredible results in all of their hearts.

After Difficult Night, Hezhan Stable In ICU

Posted on Thu, 05/26/2011 - 01:00 by Kristina Kayser
When I entered Wolfson's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit this morning, my eyes were immediately drawn to Hezhan, whose long torso lay perfectly still, save the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest. His mother, keeping vigil beside his bed, jumped up to greet me, her eyes filled with love for her son as she praised God for his surgery. I explained the various monitors and machines to Hezhan's mother as she pointed to each one, saying, "Owa Chia?" ("what's that?" in Kurdish). Moreover, five rather potent medications were being infused to regulate his heart, and a ventilator continued to provide respiratory assistance.

Surrounded by complex cardiac technology, I marveled at how peaceful Hezhan looked. The repose I observed, however, was the result of a dramatic comeback after a very tumultuous night in the ICU. Although not given many details, I was told that medical staff worked around the clock, striving to keep Hezhan stable in an extremely precarious recovery period. According to the Alexandria Journal of Anesthesia & Intensive Care reports, "The post-operative phase is the most critical period for OHS (open heart surgery) patients. It is characterized by many complications [including] pulmonary, cardiovascular, neurological and renal." Doctors and nurses were able to provide the exhaustive care Hezhan needed to reach a point of stability early this morning.

His mother expressed to me how frightened she was during this crisis and breathed a sigh of relief when told her son's status had improved remarkably and was now doing well. Hezhan will remain sedated and ventilated at least until tomorrow in the ICU. It wasn't long before phone calls home to Iraq were made to give relatives the most recent update.

Having experienced so many successful stories at Shevet, there's a potential to diminish the perilous nature of the operations themselves and the recovery that takes place afterward. Every surgery that concludes in victory is a resurrection of hope as life is renewed. Hezhan is one more reason for us to stand in wonder of God's mercy and healing. There is no denying that Hezhan is a miracle and that his life continues to bring God glory! Please be vigilant to pray that Hezhan grows stronger day by day as his new heart beats steadily within him, finding truth in this promise: For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Surgery Day: "I Shall Not Die, But Live"

Posted on Wed, 05/25/2011 - 14:34 by Jonathan Miles

As we arrived at the hospital this morning we caught up with an attendant already wheeling Hezhan on his way to the operating room. Hezhan's eyes filled with tears as we parted and I encouraged him not to be afraid, for the Lord was with him.

I recalled when we first saw Hezhan at a screening in Jordan two years ago. His eyes filled with tears then too, when the doctor said Hezhan may be too old to enter the heart program. Now finally here we were on surgery day.

We read from Psalm 118 as we settled in for the long wait: "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD." Looking up, we saw a Hebrew sign on the waiting room wall extolling the psalms as "effective for salvation."

The hours stretched on, and our coworkers Donna Jo and Verena comforted Hezhan's mother, along with help from the mother of Arina, who had just waited through her own child's surgery Monday. Repeatedly Hezhan's mother said, "As long as he comes out in peace, everything will be OK."

Hezhan's father set up camp to wait by the elevators from which Hezhan would eventually emerge as he came to the ICU.

We asked passing medical staff for interim reports on the surgery, and the first response on their lips was "difficult." It would be a full ten hours before the elevator doors opened and Hezhan finally emerged enroute to the ICU.

The relief for Hezhan's parents when they saw him alive was immense. Tears of joy flowed freely, followed by hugs and kisses all around.

Hezhan was whisked into the ICU and another wait of nearly an hour followed as he was stabilized and connected to a ventilator before we were allowed in to see him.

It was a surprise to see this full-grown young man, taller than the beds in the pediatric ICU where we are accustomed to seeing only small children. Hezhan's mother was struck to see the oxygen level in his blood is now 100% of normal.

The surgeon Lior Sasson came out to see the parents, telling them in Arabic that everything had gone well. Then he turned to us in English and explained just how very difficult the surgery had been. Hezhan had two huge holes between the ventricles of his heart, and the surgeon also had to "dig a tunnel" through the overgrown heart to clear blood outflow to the pulmonary arteries, as well as fashioning a makeshift valve where there had been none. Everything seems to be working, he told us, adding that Hezhan will probably remain on a ventilator for the next two days to give his new heart time to settle in.

Surgery Eve: Waiting and Trusting Together

Posted on Tue, 05/24/2011 - 01:00 by Donna_West

Several phone calls back and forth to different departments in the hospital this morning revealed that Hezhan's surgery will be first thing tomorrow, Wednesday. But today was filled with many visitors who remember Hezhan and his mother with fondness from the last time they were in Israel.

Hezhan's father is not only adding to the feeling of peace and security for his son and wife by being here with them, he is a warm and friendly face to everyone he meets. As he sat with us this morning, waiting until it was time to leave for the hospital, he shared with us his view on mothers. He told us how we should honor our mothers because a mother gives mercy to her children and God multiples mercy back to her. You would have thought he had been reading the scripture that we recognize as the 'Beatitudes' - Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

It is so clear that our Father writes his word on the hearts of mankind and it is our choice whether or not to abide in it. At lunch, sitting across from Hezhan's mother, I saw this mother he described. After lunch, former Shevet volunteer, Robin Miller, arrived to spend some time with Hezhan and his family.

What a happy reunion of friends today in preparation and belief that we can trust our Father's love.

Quenching Fear With Faith

Posted on Mon, 05/23/2011 - 01:00 by Kristina Kayser

Before arriving in Israel, Hezhan's reputation preceded him. Shevet volunteers, who knew him from his previous visit in 2009, described him as a gentle-natured young man, shy and polite with a sweet spirit. After knowing Hezhan for only a couple weeks, I can affirm that he is all of these things and more. Moreover, his accompanying mother and father are equally warm and endearing.

Being twenty-two years old has not deterred Hezhan from building relationships with the younger members of the Shevet house. It wasn't long before he assumed the role of "big brother," playing with the other children, letting them sit on his lap, or keeping a steady supply of bubble gum to hand out. Although he has never been strong enough to attend school for even a day in his life, Hezhan is bright, inquisitive, and full of potential. He and his parents have been waiting and praying for a new chance at life, for a surgery that would give his heart a rebirth.

Today's admission to Wolfson's adult cardiothoracic department is the advent of dreams fulfilled for this loving Kurdish family. As with most great dreams, there are also great risks. Hezhan's diagnosis, Tetralogy of Fallot, is a complicated one, not only because it requires the repair of four different cardiac malfunctions but also because delinquent intervention has made his heart considerably weak over time. While auscultating his heart the other day, I couldn't help but think how tired it sounded, like an engine running out of steam.

Hezhan and his parents are well aware of the severity of his condition, as evidenced by the fear mingled with tears in their eyes this morning before leaving Shevet. Silent contemplation in the van further intensified the fear, making it almost tangible. Once Hezhan was settled in his new room, and the nurse had completed checking his vital signs, we were informed that his surgery is not confirmed for tomorrow, as originally believed. The latest report is that Hezhan's operation is scheduled for Wednesday; however, there is a chance that he will get bumped to Tuesday's roster, pending the status of another patient. Unfortunately, nothing can be confirmed until the morning. Although their faces did not mask deep disappointment upon hearing this news, tension was somehow broken and anxiety subsided.

My affinity for Hezhan and his parents grew as I observed their deep-seated love for one another throughout the afternoon: a simple glance of the eyes, a knowing look, an affirming head nod, a gentle smile all communicated more affection than perhaps could be expressed through words. We spoke of things familiar and dear to them- of the rivers and beauty of Kurdistan, of cherished family back home, of the strength God gives every day. I then listened to a mother with renewed faith ask Loni (fellow Shevet co-worker) and I to keep praying for her son and to please ask others to do the same. When we shared that people all over the world are interceding for Hezhan, her eyes gleamed with hope. Likewise, Hezhan's shy smile turned into a wide grin, full of confidence as we said goodbye.

Once again, I have witnessed God's extraordinary ability to quench fear with faith, and I stand in awe. Truly "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

Hezhan And His Parents Return To The Hospital

Posted on Wed, 05/11/2011 - 01:00 by Donna_West

We hoped for the best, believed the best, and waited many hours for the best news of the day to be confirmed.

When Hezhan and his mother returned to Iraq 15 months ago, they held on to hope by a thread for Hezhans surgery. The doctors felt the risk outweighed the benefit for surgery at that time. When he was last in Israel he had a therapeutic heart catheterization resulting in his blood oxygen levels increasing from about 72% to 93%.

It made a world of difference for him, but did not correct other malfunctions that only invasive surgery could correct. He returned to Iraq with a medication plan, increased oxygen levels and a hope that God would grant him the improved strength and health to be a good candidate for surgery the following year.

When Hezhan was here last year with many younger children having a similar diagnosis, I became keenly aware that he was already a walking miracle. All medical information I read about the condition Hezhan has (TOF) say the results are best when corrective surgery is done before the age of two. Hezhan, now 22 years old, defies the odds. Even if he could have had surgery 20 years ago, can you even imagine how much less technology the medical community had at that time to handle these sorts of problems?

Today Hezhan and both his parents were greeted numerous times by doctors and nurses as though they were happy to see a long lost friend. Although the hospital was very busy, every effort was made today to make a full assessment of Hezhans condition and to discern his readiness to be a good surgical candidate. And finally, the favor of God manifested itself again: surgery for Hezhan will be scheduled in the very near future.

The Return of Hezhan

Posted on Sun, 05/08/2011 - 01:00 by Jonathan Miles

Fifteen months after he left Jerusalem, Hezhan returned across the Jordan River today for the open-heart surgery which holds the promise of saving and transforming his life. A difference this time: he is accompanied by both his mother and father.

We are looking forward to our time together with this family, which has grown even more precious to us over several visits to their home in Kurdistan during the last year.

It was late by the time we reached Jerusalem tonight, and Hezhan said he was tired and headed straight off to sleep after a light meal. He'll be able to rest the next two days, which are Memorial and Independence days in Israel, before reporting to the hospital on Wednesday for his first examinations.

Pages