Karim's Heart Surgery

Northern Iraq

Karim in Fairly Stable Condition

Posted on Tue, 03/11/2008 - 00:00 by Keleigh_Glisson

Today we were able to visit Karim and his mother at the hospital, accompanied by an interpreter. Karim remains in the ICU in a fairly stable condition. The doctors informed us that they were able to repair the hole in his heart and move a valve in order to help correct the enlarged upper right chamber of his heart.

Karim's mother wanted to know why many of the other children in the ICU were awake already. The doctors explained to her that Karims surgery was more complicated than most. His blood pressure remains very low so they are keeping him sedated, but they will continue to assess his situation in order to
determine the appropriate time to reduce the sedation.

Please pray that Karims blood pressure will grow stronger and for his overall recovery. Also pray for his mothers loneliness and isolation during this time.

Today's Surgery Long ButSuccessful

Posted on Mon, 03/10/2008 - 00:00 by Keleigh_Glisson

Karims surgery took place today and ended up taking longer than expected. He went into surgery at 8:30 a.m. and we didnt hear anything from the doctors until around 2:00 p.m. The doctors informed us that the operation was successful, but because Tel HaShomer Hospital isnt a hospital that Shevet Achim normally works with, the doctors were reluctant to give any details on the success of the surgery. In addition, cameras were not allowed in the ICU. Hopefully tomorrow we will have a better understanding of Karims circumstances and we will be able to take some photos.

Karims mother (pictured above on the left side of the photo) only speaks Kurdish, which was a bit of an obstacle. Today two other mothers who spoke both Kurdish and English were able to comfort her during the operation and do some translating once we were able to speak to the doctors.

Please pray for Karim to remain in stable condition throughout the night and for his overall recovery. Also pray for his mother, who feels isolated due to the language barrier and continues to be very worried about her son.

In Good Spirits on the Eve of Surgery

Posted on Sun, 03/09/2008 - 00:00 by Keleigh_Glisson

Karim is very excited about his surgery that is scheduled to take place tomorrow (Monday, March 10, 2008). Today he was transferred from Haifa to Tel HaShomer Hospital in Tel Aviv.

Today we spent time with him and his mother while awaiting one last echo before his surgery and his admittance into the hospital. Both he and his mother seemed in very good spirits, although the smile on his mother's face quickly turned to tears once she heard the sound of her son's heartbeat during the echocardiogram. His mother is very scared and the language barrier no doubt contributes to this. In addition, the doctors are unsure if his surgery will be done in one operation or a series of operations. His condition is very severe.

Please pray that the doctors would have wisdom in deciding how to handle Karims unique case, that his surgery will be successful. And pray for Karims mother who feels very alone during this scary time in a country where she is only able to communicate with one or two people.

Eager to Begin Treatment

Posted on Thu, 02/28/2008 - 00:00 by Simantov_Allalouf

Karim was glad to see us on Tuesday, and was quite talkative. Only problem is, I didn't understand what he was saying. Karim was glad to be able to sit and talk to another male figure as he has been in the apartment waiting for news on his surgery with all women and girls. Please pray for Karim and his mom who is anxious to see the healing process begin. We had an excellent opportunity to pray with Karim who said "yes" over and over as we prayed.

Today we took Karim to hospital because he was complaining about chest pains and difficulty breathing. After the doctors looked at him, they prescribed some medication and sent him back to the apartment as they continue to wait on the hospital to make the final arrangements concerning his surgery. Karim was in good spirits but is biting at the bit to begin his treatment so he can go back home.

First Echo Brings Laughs and a Challenge

Posted on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 00:00 by Alex_Pettett

Karim sat timidly this morning awaiting his first echo in Israel. The pediatric cardiologist who invited Karim to Israel, Dr. Avraham Lorber, introduced himself with a handshake and warm smile before bringing Karim into the examination room.

As soon as Dr. Lorber placed began trying to perform the echo Karim got a case of the giggles. Lorber continually told him to be still, that he was a big boy, and that this was not helping.

Unfortunately his laughter was contagious and spread to Lorber and the staff. This of course drew out the procedure but at least we were all laughing.

During the echo we discovered that Karim has a large hole in the upper ventricle of his heart. This prolonged condition has caused an additional problem. Karims upper right chamber of his heart has been enlarged over the years due to the unchecked hole. This ventricle now makes up for 70% of Karims heart. Karim will have a catheterization tomorrow to further explore the problem.

What originally was a simple repair is now complicated by the enlarged chamber and the strain it has put on the valves of the heart. Please pray that we all keep laughing and see the joy of the Lords work amidst difficulties to come.

Crossing the Jordan River

Posted on Mon, 02/11/2008 - 00:00 by Jean_Calvani


Today Karim and Kale started their journey to Israel. We were blessed with perfect weather and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the Jordan valley as we made our way down from Amman. Thankfully the one and a half hour drive went by quickly, and before we knew it we were at the border. After getting our exit stamp on the Jordan side, we sat on the benches waiting for the bus to carry us over to Israel. Kale's and Karim's mothers were very hopeful for their children's surgery, yet nervous about what lay ahead in the coming days and weeks. I continued to reassure them that God was with them and would carry them through a successful surgery and recovery. Pray that the Lord would fill them with his peace. Once we were in Israel, the time came for me to say good-bye and let Alex take them the rest of the way. Even though they were disappointed that I wouldn't be traveling the entire way with them, they were content to know that I'd be waiting for their return

Alex Pettett picks up the story:

Karim's mother sat quietly waiting for me to show. Today, Shevet's staff did a family swap. We said goodbye to two Iraqi families who successfully came through the heart program in Rambam hospital in Haifa and we brought two more Iraqi families into Israel for surgeries in Haifa. The transition happened at the Beit Shean border which stands between Israel and Jordan. Though I do not believe the border staffs read the blogs, I would like to especially give thanks to today's duty manager. I will omit his real name and call him Yosi (one of the most common names in Israel). Though you do not see him featured in any pictures, he is the artist who snapped the shot above of the new families and myself in this blog. So, a big thanks to Yosi who constantly helps us cut through the red tape and also offered soft words of assurance to these new families today, "It's ok, we'll take care of you in Israel."

Fourteen-year-old Karim was dressed ready for a wedding. Though he and his mother do not speak any Arabic (or English) they both have a soft, encouraging smile. Karim sat next to me as we ascended from the Jordan valley and made our way to the coastal city of Haifa. As we passed new sites, sounds, and smells Karim kept his face plastered to the window trying to take it all in. Though quieted by being in such a new place, you could still tell he felt he was on holiday.
We arrived in Haifa at 6:30 PM and began unloading their light belongings. Within minutes we were unpacked. Now they await the arrival of pizza to give them some strength for the long journey ahead. Initial tests begin tomorrow morning at 8AM.