Honya's Heart Surgery


Visiting Honya in Iraq

Posted on Tue, 09/10/2013 - 13:59 by John and Miriam

On September 2nd, John and Miriam visited Honya’s family in Kurdistan, Iraq.  Honya had surgery in Israel in May and traveled back to Kurdistan with John and Miriam in June.     

When Miriam called Honya’s mother to ask if we could visit, Honya grabbed the phone and asked Miriam how our daughter Ashty was doing.  After arriving at their home, Ashty was tired but she got woken up by all of Honya’s attention (later on, Honya allowed Ashty to take a nap with her head resting on her big red teddy).  We also brought a dress for Honya as a small gift, which she put on immediately and wore the time while we were there.

Due to some medical issues, Honya’s two-year old brother has not been able to start walking on his own yet.  Honya and her cousin helped the boy keep his balance while he practiced strolling around hand-in-hand and laughing at the same time .

Honya and her cousin continued their walking around the room, but that wasn’t exciting enough.  Honya, being so full of energy, spontaneously burst into a run that swirled around the room like a whirlwind.

Honya’s mother prepared traditional sweet "cha" (tea) for her guests.  Although Honya shone with health and spirit, her family reported to us that she has a minor problem that they are following up with the local doctors.  Honya’s mother said the forty days she spent in Israel were “hxosha”, which is a Kurdish word to describe something that is delightful.  It is the word they also use to express thanksgiving for food or something nice (like a blessing) they have received. 

Honya’s parents showed their appreciation in words and deeds, and part of that was a Kurdish “keefta” meal which her mother prepared.

After lunch, we took this family photo.

Kurds often take their pictures with a somber expression, but we easily caught some warm smiles on display. Honya’s grandmother (far right), an aunt (second to the right) and a cousin (the girl next to Honya’s father) also came to visit with us and show their appreciation.  If this family had a chance to invite everyone who has helped Honya, the parents and relatives would make a great big Kurdish feast to show their hospitality and thanks to all of you!

A Will of Iron, a Winning Smile

Posted on Wed, 06/19/2013 - 23:25 by Awapuhi Dancil

I have never before seen so much stubborn sass packed into such a tiny, adorable package; but that was our Honya. She had a will of iron and a smile that would melt your heart, and she laughed like she knew it. In complete honesty, there were days in which her stubbornness bested my patience. You know you’re in for a challenge when a kid’s favorite word is “no.” Luckily, I love the ones with fire, for they are the ones who have the kind of passion that could change the world. 

We celebrated our little fireball last night with a going away party. She was all cuteness and charm in her blue floral print dress, reveling in the attention we were all too willing to give. I was a little nervous about playing music for the party, but was encouraged by Honya’s enthusiasm. She joined in vigorously when we sang her favorite song “pirozee,” strumming her air guitar and shaking her head like a rock star.

Honya sat with a polite, and totally uninterested, expression on her face while we shared our favorite memories about her time with us here at Shevet. I was just impressed she sat still. Her mother graciously received our words of praise and thanks, and returned them in kind. Honya’s mother was always warm and playful, trying to teach me Kurdish words and laughing at my clumsy attempts. She has the same mischievous twinkle in her eye as her daughter – I’m thankful Honya has a mother who is as strong as she is.

After a pause in conversation, Honya’s face lit up instantly when she realized it was time for presents. She received a play doctor’s set, a beautiful handmade quilt, and other gifts that made her smile and laugh.

Toward the end of the party Honya began to act out. She started tugging on clothes, hitting, and trying to take my guitar out of my hands. I couldn’t understand why until I grabbed her up into a forced hug and she yelled, “na sho shawd!!” which means, “no good night!!” She put her hands on either side of my face, and dramatically kissed both of my cheeks five times each. Goodbyes are hard. I mean, if I didn’t have 24 years of social conditioning I would throw a fit as well.

We sent Honya and her mother off to Kurdistan, along with other dear friends. This morning was a tough one. Honya’s mother had tears in her eyes, as did a few others in the Shevet community. It is difficult to part with those you’ve invested time, love, and energy in. I am thankful, however, that our God is good, and that He will take much better care of these two then I ever could.

Results In: Honya Cleared to Head Home

Posted on Tue, 06/18/2013 - 00:43 by Kelsey Cannon

Late this morning, Honya and her mother took off from Jerusalem and headed towards the Wolfson Medical Center for what was hoped to be Honya’s final echocardiogram. Spirits were high, and Honya charmed us all, as usual, with her sassy antics. For instance, while waiting for her appointment in the hallway outside of the echo clinic, it wasn’t long after I took out my bubbles that Honya asked for them so she could demonstrate and delight us with her skills.

Things took on a slightly more serious mood once Honya was lying on the table during her echo. I watched the etched marks of worry make their way across Honya’s mother’s face as she alternated her gaze from the doctor to the probe sliding along her daughter’s chest - trying to discern the results before they were divulged. Honya would lighten things up a little every few minutes or so by stopping and sticking her tongue out at me. But before we knew it, the test was over and the results were in: Honya was cleared to return home. Her heart had healed well - although she still had a small residual leak in her mitral valve. But the leak did not seem to concern her doctors, and after a delicious meal of Kurdish dolma that the mothers had especially prepared for the day, we headed back to Jerusalem.

Honya Nearing the Finish

Posted on Mon, 06/10/2013 - 23:33 by Jesse Tilman

Honya played intensely as she waited for her echocardiogram.  We arrived at Wolfson this morning to find the waiting room full of families waiting for their echo appointments. Getting in before lunch time seemed like less and less of a possibility as time passed. The children we brought didn

Honya's First Follow-up Echo

Posted on Tue, 06/04/2013 - 10:23 by Philip Rasmussen

We have been blessed to have many children in the post-surgery phase of their journey in our home in Jerusalem. Yesterday was especially busy, as five of our Kurdish families traveled to the Wolfson Medical Center for follow-up echocardiograms. Honya, amazingly, was among those traveling, even though she only had her open heart surgery roughly over a week ago.

These past few weeks have seen a lot of young girls around the same age in the house. They all have a lot of fun together, whether it is on the Shevet base or in the hospital. And yesterday, the small multicolored chairs for children near the echo department provided the entertainment for all of them while they waited for their turns.

Honya did not seem to be scared by the big monster of an echo machine managed by a

A Face You Remember

Posted on Thu, 05/30/2013 - 19:43 by Liliane Gasser

Today I had the opportunity to go with a small group to Wolfson hospital. This was a great chance for me, and I am so thankful for it.

I was amazed by the size of Wolfson

Honya in the Children's Ward

Posted on Tue, 05/28/2013 - 21:31 by Jesse Tilman

Arriving at the hospital today, we found Honya in the children

Honya: Recovering as Expected

Posted on Tue, 05/28/2013 - 03:45 by Jesse Tilman

Honya is doing well and wide awake as she recovers in ICU. When I went in to see her today she was spread out and relaxed as she watched the nurses go about their business. She would fend off her mother

A Smooth Surgery Day

Posted on Sun, 05/26/2013 - 22:16 by Ruth Zellweger

This day was a little different from what I had expected. When we admitted Honya to Wolfson Hospital last night, the doctor informed us that Honya probably would not have surgery today. She was on the schedule as the second surgery, and it was thought that the doctors would only perform one surgery. But they prepared her anyway as if it would happen. Just in case...

After our morning meeting I called the hospital to find out how our children were doing, and was told that Honya had just been taken down to the Operation Room. This was great news on the one hand. But on the other I was sad because this meant I would not be there in time to comfort Honya

Honya Admitted for Surgery

Posted on Sat, 05/25/2013 - 21:58 by Awapuhi Dancil

Hearing an inordinate amount of barking outside, I emerged from our dining room with my curiosity piqued. Once I entered the courtyard, the strange barking turned into a furious fit of giggles. I looked up to find Kawyar and Honya at the top of the stairs, bent over with laughter and sticking their tongues out at me.

Honya has enough character to fill a movie screen; all of life is her stage and her antics never seem to stop. It was hard to say goodbye. She and her mother left for Wolfson Hospital this evening, where she will be admitted and prepped for surgery. As we circled around to pray for their safety, I was touched to see her show a rare moment of solemnity.

We hope that her surgery will happen tomorrow, but there is a chance it may be pushed to another day. Please pray for patience, peace, and a successful surgery on behalf of Honya and her mother.