Lamo's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

A Tale of Two Surgeries

Posted on Tue, 09/27/2011 - 00:00 by Donna_West

Three Shevet team members arrived at Wolfson Hospital by 7:30 AM this morning to be a presence of faith, hope and love for the mothers of Lamo and Rebin during their children's surgeries today. The Hebrew phrase "kol  b'seder" refers to all things being in order. By 8:45 AM it was evident things were distinctly OUT of order!  The usual order of a child being taken to surgery would have been for the child and mother to have been escorted to the surgical floor (in the basement) by 8 AM at the latest.

The children were awake and each one was struggling with the hunger of fasting, the IV drip attached to their body and the anticipation of the unknown.  Now, they were also wondering why this was day was not progressing as they had been told. So let's go back to what they were told, beginning with the change of plans yesterday.
When we were surprised with the sudden opportunity for one of them to have an operation yesterday and then it changed, we assured all the mothers in the house that even though we did not know what changed, we could trust the doctors were making a decision based on the best interest of the child. We explained that most of the time it is best for the children to come the day before to have all the blood tests done and make sure their body was not fighting any bacteria or virus that would complicate their recovery.  Assuring them their child's best interest was the basis for rethinking the plan built a foundation of trust for the next decision that was made.  Then a couple hours later, the call came for them both of them to come in to have surgery the next day (which would have been today).

Who could have known the only pediatric heart surgeon would have spent the entire night (until 4  AM this morning) struggling to save the life of another child? As result, neither Lamo nor Rebin would be able to have surgery today. This medical team was once again, willing to put the well-being of these two Iraqi children ahead of everything else; only willing to give their best, when their best is not compromised with fatigue. 


It is always difficult for us at the Shevet house to offer comfort to the mothers when their emotions are scattered all over the place--one minute you're preparing for your child to undergo major heart surgery, and the next it's been cancelled. But I want to recognize the truth in this difficult reality: that our doctors sacrifice so much of their time and energy for these kids. Today we choose to be the voice of faith, hope and love to the doctors and nurses at Wolfson Hospital.  We choose to say thank you for how you care for us and these children. We choose to tell you we see the sacrifice you make and KNOW what you do is about YOUR heart for us--not about your pocketbook. And we choose to continue to ask God's favor on you in your home, your family, your land, and your own health.  Thank You!


Below is a video of Lamo playing a balloon game with her mother and fellow staff member, Stephanie, to help pass the time while they waited at the hospital.


A Daunting Thought & A Hopeful Moment

Posted on Mon, 09/26/2011 - 21:57 by Jeff Sheehan

Going in for open heart surgery is a daunting thought. Lamo is one and a half years old, and though her thought processes are far from developed, just going into hospital triggers her little brain to feel uncomfortable and wary. 

She has already had her initial workup. Doctors in white coats, nurses in blue uniforms, the prick of a needle, a blood pressure cuff tightening around her little leg: these all tell her that something's happening and that she'd rather be back at home. 
Lamo has come to Jerusalem with her mum, for life saving heart surgery. She was born with a congenital problem called Tetralogy of Fallot, in which anatomical structures of the heart have been malformed, causing circulatory problems, and giving us a picture of peripheral cyanosis (a blue tone to the skin), and poor exercise tolerance. 
Today young Lamo was called up for surgical correction of this problem at the Wolfson hospital. Her surgery is scheduled for tomorrow. The admission is not pleasant for a little child, but basic observations, blood work, an intravenous cannula, and a chest x-ray must be done. At the time of leaving, both mother and daughter were settled happily in their bed.

Shy Smiles and Big Eyes

Posted on Mon, 09/12/2011 - 22:11 by Donna_West

Lamo invites you into her presence with shy smiles and big eyes. For a child of only 18 months she certainly tries to be cooperative.

Today was her first visit to the hospital in Israel and her first encounter with the medical staff. There was no fuss about being in the car seat and she was quite pleasant during the many times of waiting.  When the time came to take her medicine, even though there were tears, she didn't fight it.

Lamo's diagnosis is Tetralogy of Fallot. You can read about this heart defect by clicking on the link at the side of this page. As lovely as this child is now, it will be amazing to see her when she turns the lovely shade of healthy pink.  She very well may walk out of Shevet Achim when it's time for her to return to Iraq. But for now most of her strength is being used to preserve her life.

Lamo will return to the hospital for follow-up exams in a few days. Dr. Alona, a pediatric cardiologist at the Wolfson Medical Center, indicated today that one or two of the new children could go to surgery as soon as next week.

Building Trust Across Worlds

Posted on Sun, 09/11/2011 - 16:06 by jonathan

1.5 year old Lamo and her mother reached Jordan by air from Iraq on Wednesday night, and we traveled together with two other Kurdish children across the Jordan River to Israel on Thursday. Little Lamo was a bit jittery at first, but soon I became a trusted traveling companion in the midst of an unfamiliar world and was rewarded with shy but spreading smiles.

Lamo's mother is a government clerk back in her hometown, and also a fluent Arabic speaker, which is a godsend as she'll be able to translate between us and other mothers who speak only Kurdish.

Monday we'll take all the new families for their first examinations at the Wolfson Medical Center in Tel Aviv, and will keep this page updated on Lamo's progress toward heart surgery.