Lawk 's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Lawk Leaves Israel

Posted on Wed, 12/03/2008 - 00:00 by Keleigh_Glisson
When I walked in to the Shevet house in Jerusalem this afternoon, it was immediately evident that the families there were ready to go home. There were suitcases strewn about the courtyard while Lawk's mother came out dressed up and looking beautiful. She was excited for the journey home to begin, and to be reunited with her husband.

We had a much later start than what we originally scheduled. We made it to the border in the early evening and ended up waiting for various things to fall into place before they were able to board the bus to cross the border. As we waited, Lawk's mother told me about their family farm back in Iraq. It was difficult for me to picture this very nicely put together woman out on the farm milking cows.




Lawk's father called several times to confirm that she was crossing into Jordan and that she would be on the plane to Iraq tomorrow. Numerous times over the last few weeks Lawk's mother has told me that she is in love with her husband and it has been very difficult to be away from him for so long. I was thankful that Lawk's surgery took place right away so that they wouldn't be apart for long. Lawk's father asked to speak to me just to confirm that I had their contact information in case I came to Iraq. I told them some day I would see them there.


Lawk's Final Echo

Posted on Thu, 11/27/2008 - 00:00 by Hank_Dannecker

Today was Lawk's final trip to Schneider's Children's Hospital, for his final echocardiogram with his affectionate cardiologist Dr. Birk. After only three weeks in Israel Lawk and his mother heard the words that his heart looks great after surgery and they can return to Iraq with no restrictions on Lawk's activities. Immediately after hearing the good news Um. Lawk made some important phone calls to family and friends back in Iraq. Lawks father talked to me for a few minutes thanking me and all of the Shevet team for taking such great care of his wife and child while in Israel.

I am once again reminded of the profound impact that this work has on people the world over. The next step for Lawk and his healed heart will be to head for home as a living testimony of Jesus mercy and grace. An elevator ride, pictured below, was the first stage of his long journey home.

Lawk Returns to Jerusalem

Posted on Fri, 11/21/2008 - 06:48 by Matt_Engle

It is hard to imagine that God would allow me the blessing of working with Shevet. As a student at Jerusalem University College, there are many opportunities to volunteer with different organizations around the city. I have only been volunteering with Shevet for two months, but during this time I have been blessed with numerous experiences. Friday was no exception. I drove with Donna and Mary to bring Lawk and his mother back to Jerusalem after Lawk's successful surgery.

There were a couple of moments throughout the day that greatly stood out. First, as I was standing in the hall, someone on staff at the hospital stopped and chatted with us about Lawk and the work that Shevet is doing. Because she has an incredible influence working first-hand with children, she was able to quickly share her thoughts about the organization. She was very grateful for the work that Shevet does and for the many lives that it affects.

Hearing this reminds me of Matthew 5:16 "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven." I am very proud to serve alongside an organization that actively lives this out.

Secondly, it was a joy for me watching Lawk and his mother interact. As someone who has a close relationship with his mother, it brings me great joy to know that they will have the opportunity to enjoy a lasting mother-son relationship. As I look into the future and my remaining year here in Jerusalem, I am anxiously awaiting for more opportunities like this to see how the LORD uses Shevet to share His love with the world by healing children's hearts.


Eating and Resting After Yesterday's Surgery

Posted on Tue, 11/18/2008 - 00:00 by Keleigh_Glisson

I found Lawk and his mother in one of the rooms outside of the ICU this evening. Lawk had just woken up from a nap. His mother was trying to get him to sit up and eat something. He slowly turned his legs off of the bed and sat up, and I could tell the process was a little painful.

Lawk took a couple of bites of his dinner and then asked for the two new trucks his mom had purchased for him in the hospital gift shop. With the trucks by his side and a couple of balloons wrapped around his arm, Lawk slowly ate a few more bites of food.

While I was there Lawks family called from Iraq. His mother spent the next several minutes explaining the details of Lawks successful operation. I was able to speak with Lawks father in English and told him about the pictures of Lawk that are available for him to see online. He thanked me over and over again and told me to say thank you to everyone who has made Lawks successful surgery possible. Lawks parents have lived the last four years of their lives with a sick son and in fear that no treatment was available for him. Today, the day after his operation, they are overcome with joy with the reality that they will no longer be haunted by this fear!

As I was getting ready to leave, Lawk sat back in his bed and closed his eyes. A few seconds later he opened them again and told his mom that he was only going to sleep for a very short time. Within a few minutes he was sound asleep.

Please continue to pray for Lawk and his mother.

Lawk's Feet Now Warm and Pink!

Posted on Mon, 11/17/2008 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

Much to our disappointment, our best efforts to be at the hospital with Lawk and his mother before he left for the operating room were unsuccessful, due to heavy traffic. After a 2 1/2 hour trip, we arrived after Lawk went to surgery. Mary and I found his sweet mother sitting on the bed in Lawk's room crying, and immediately did our best to offer comfort to her aching heart. As she settled down, and throughout the morning, the nursing staff came to check on her and reassure her that today was a good day for her and Lawk, the one she had been waiting for. We too were able to remind her of what she has to be thankful for when her conversation turned to the possibilities the doctors had mentioned that Lawk might need another surgery in future years. She also received a call from her sister who seemed to be the final voice in shifting her thoughts away from possible problems and towards a hopeful future for her son. When this shift in thinking occurred, she laid down on the bed and took a nap. Praise God for bringing His peace into the situation.

We'd been told that Lawk would be out of surgery around noon, so that was the initial target in our expectant waiting time together. We chatted about family, the situation in Iraq, and shared some snacks after Lawk's mom awoke from her nap. She was beginning to pace the hallway floor just before noon, but right after she returned to the room, Dr. Birk came in to let us know that Lawk's surgery was over and everything was very good. I called our translator, Mazal, to help Lawk's mother understand this initial report, and Lawk's mom was guardedly happy after speaking with her. We were told that it would be about an hour before Lawk would be brought up to the ICU, and at that time she could see him. She called her husband and shared with him everything the doctor had said, and when she got off the phone said he was crying tears of joy, as well as missing being with his son at this time because they love each other so much.

When it was time to enter the ICU, Lawk's mother was again overcome with tears at seeing her son. Mazal's help was appreciated again as the ICU nurse explained everything to Lawk's mom.

After looking at the incision and all the tubes and medicines, she began to carefully examine his fingers and toes. No longer were they blue or black, she noted. Instead, they looked beautifully pink. This moment seemed to be the convincing detail she was looking for which filled her with thanksgiving and joy. She stood and held one of Lawk's feet for a long time. She massaged his feet while telling me how warm Lawk's foot was now, and how much he's always loved her rubbing his feet.

Indeed Lawk's complexion already had a different shade - a shade of health and life! The nurse recommended to us that Lawk's mother get some rest, because if Lawk continued to do well they planned to extubate him in the late afternoon, and as he awoke, she would need to be by his side.

Much to my surprise, again this dear mother laid down and took a good nap. She slept until we had the pleasure of a visit from Keleigh bringing Tarza and Rezhin and their moms after the girls finished their echocardiogram appointment at Wolfson. The mothers all talked about how Lawk was doing and shared about the recuperation from surgeries of the girls.

At the end of the visit Keleigh went in to see Lawk with his mom just at the time he was beginning to awaken. During their brief visit, the doctors were able to see that Lawk was able to breathe on his own, and were planning to extubate him within a few hours. It was time for us to go, but we departed thanking God for His care for Lawk, and look forward to seeing him tomorrow off the ventilator. We're anticipating that this little boy will be full of energy again in the coming week. Keep praying for Lawk and and his mother as the healing process proceeds.

Lawk Admitted for Surgery Tomorrow

Posted on Sun, 11/16/2008 - 06:48 by Donna_Petrel

Last night, we planned with Lawk and his mother, to go to the hospital this morning in order for Lawk to be admitted for surgery. Before leaving we called the hospital to be sure there were no changes to their schedule, and then headed for Schneider Children's Hospital. Lawk was very happy about the trip until we insisted he sit in his seatbelt. He then became fretful. His mother was able to settle him down enough that he fell asleep in her lap. She also took a nap as we made the drive.

Upon arrival I contacted a woman who has helped us before with translation in instances when our families speak no Arabic or English; she is a Jewish Kurd who has lived near Tel Aviv much of her life. She has been a wonderful blessing to all, especially the families, as she loves on them and helps with translation between the Hebrew-speaking medical staff and the Kurdish speaking parents. We were told it was necessary for her to come and translate for the surgeon so Lawk's mother could understand the surgery, the doctor's instructions before surgery, and sign the consent forms. Arrangements were made for her to come in the afternoon at a time after the surgeon was out of surgery.

We spent the bulk of the afternoon entertaining Lawk - a very active boy - as we waited for Mazal, the translator, and then waited for the doctor to come out of surgery. The day faded into early evening, and everyone was becoming anxious for the meeting to take place, but of course until the doctor was available we could do nothing but wait. When he finally came from surgery to meet with us, I felt all was worth the wait. He spent as much time as needed to help Lawk's mother understand, ask all her questions, and get the answers she needed to hear. He drew several diagrams for her showing exactly where the problems are in Lawk's heart and how the repairs will be correcting them. She understood, signed the forms, and returned to the room to settle in for the night. Lawk's surgery is scheduled for 7 AM tomorrow.

We left her this evening feeling emotionally charged with thoughts of tomorrow's surgery. I was torn about leaving, but was not able to stay the night. We will return and be with her in the morning during Lawk's surgery to help her through the long wait. The stress she is under is causing her to feel tension in her muscles. We discussed taking her to the ER before we left. The consensus was that after the surgery this will likely be alleviated as the stress lifts. Meanwhile Mazal and I massaged her shoulders and back to help relieve some of the tension, which gave me an opportunity to pray for her at the same time.

Please pray for this sweet mother and her beloved little boy. She, like the other families we come to know and love, is in that place of reality where the love for her child overcomes the fear of what might happen during surgery The challenge of waiting during the final hours is overcome by the hope for him to have a normal life. Pray that Lawk will rest tonight and be able to endure the pre-surgery fast, which will be required. Pray for peace for his mother as she waits with him, looking forward to the new life which will begin for him in the morning with God's grace.

Unexpected Trip to the Hospital

Posted on Fri, 11/14/2008 - 06:48 by Mary_Dailey

Thursday morning Schneider Hospital called and told Alex that we needed to bring Lawk up to the hospital to see the doctor, and to come prepared in case they had to spend the night there. Keleigh took Lawk, his mother and I to Schneider Children's Hospital on her way to Wolfson Hospital. The plan for Keleigh to come back and pick us up after she was finished at Wolfson. When we got there the nurse at the desk was surprised to see us. She checked and told us that they had made a mistake. That we needed to bring him back Sunday. So we had a long afternoon to wait. We took him outside to play for awhile and bought him some snacks. Lawk was a little upset, but I can understand why. It is hard for a little boy with a lot of energy to have to wait for two or three hours.

On Friday back at Shevet he was entertained by a volunteer group of young college students who were working in our courtyard. Because of the screening in Jordan and also because Rezhin and Tarza were in the hospital last week, his mom and I were the only ones staying at the Shevet house.

Be praying that there will be no more delays for this little boy and his mom. It seems like all they've been doing is waiting. The Bible says, "there's a time and a reason for everything" and also, "that patience is a virtue." Pray that God will help this mom understand and give her peace. Also that his surgery will go well when the time does come.

First Day At The Hospital

Posted on Thu, 11/06/2008 - 00:00 by Keleigh_Glisson

Our trip to the hospital started early this morning. We planned on leaving Jerusalem around 6:30 AM, but when I arrived Lawk was still sound asleep. It took awhile to wake him and once we did, he wasnt happy about it. He was upset the entire morning until we walked into the hospital and he saw the fish tank.

Upon our arrival, the lady at reception greeted us with patience and a smile. Lawk's mother speaks very little Arabic and no English so it was difficult to get information from her that is necessary for admittance.

Once we were checked in we headed to the fifth floor, the childrens ward, where we were given a bed and a small space for Lawks things. It seemed that the entire staff was aware that Lawk and his mother were coming and they were very excited about it. At one point two nurses stood in the door while one of the nurses whispered, Thats him, the boy from Iraq! Schneider Childrens Hospital doesnt seem to be used to having Iraqis like some of the other hospitals we work out of.

After settling into their room and eating lunch, Lawk and his mother curled up in Lawks bed and took a nap. Lawk was scheduled for an echocardiogram and a chest x-ray, but we didnt know when that would take place. Three hours later, Lawk and his mother woke up from their nap and still the doctors hadnt come looking for them. I asked the reception the reason for this and they simply said, It is a busy day.

Two hours later, we were still waiting. Lawk found a mini-car to ride up and down the halls. This mini-car and the fish kept this little boy entertained during our long hours of waiting. Finally, I suggested to one of the doctors that I take them back to Jerusalem and return on Sunday, but the hospital wanted to have a clear idea of Lawks condition before releasing him to go back to Jerusalem.

Around 5:30 PM we made our way down to the second floor for Lawks chest x-ray. After we returned to the childrens ward we were told that the doctor was going to try and see them today, but possibly it wouldnt be until tomorrow morning. I decided it was time for me to say good-bye for the day. Lawks mother was a little apprehensive about staying alone, but I assured her that someone from the Shevet staff would be with her tomorrow.

Pray for her today as she sits alone with her son in the hospital. The beginning of this journey is scary for every mother, but it is even more difficult for those mothers who are alone without other Kurdish speakers around. Please begin to pray for Lawks surgery, which will hopefully take place some time next week.

Lawk Arrives In Israel

Posted on Wed, 11/05/2008 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

Lawk and his mother arrived in Israel tonight after an exhausting day. Weeks have passed since we thought Lawk would be able to enter Israel, and at last, late yesterday the Israeli embassy called to inform Dirk that Lawk's visa was approved and could be picked up today. So this morning they left Dirk's home for the one-and-a-half-hour drive to Amman for the visa, and then left for the border, another one-and-a-half to two-hour drive. Once at the Jordan - Israel border, a very big problem became evident when the authorities checked Lawk's mother's passport. Somehow when they arrived from Iraq at the Amman airport, the authorities there did not stamp the passport! That meant there was no proof in the passport of when they entered Jordan, which led to hours of extra work and waiting for Lawk and his mother, along with our staff who were advocating for them. Thankfully a solution was found to allow them to enter Israel late this evening.

Marty, Shirley and I had arrived on the Israel side of the border to welcome our new patient, and when a long time passed with no Lawk, and no communication, I contacted my co-workers to find out what was happening. Once we found out the problem we spent some time praying through the evening that the passport problems would be solved so this little one could enter for the help he needs. About four hours later, Brenda called saying they were on the bus. The duty manager at the terminal, who is well familiar with helping us help these families, would tell me occasionally through the evening, "He's not here yet." Even after I knew he was on the bus, a very long time went by as two bus loads of tourists came through the terminal. We peered through the door each time it opened, hoping to catch a glimpse of Lawk or his mother. At last the duty manager came and got me to go inside and assist Lawk's mother as her visa was processed. She told me immediately that Lawk had a fever and sore throat, and I could see that his glands were swollen in his throat. Thankfully it did not take long at all on the Israeli side for the passport process to be done so we could be on our way. I called Alex about calling the doctor to see Lawk tonight due to his condition, and the doctor said it sounded like it could wait until morning if we could give him some over the counter pain killer/fever reducer, which I knew I had at the house. We were all ready to get to Jerusalem.

There was only one more glitch for the night when the van would not start! We tried all we knew to make it start, and then set out to get some help to try to jump start the battery - the only explanation we could find for what was happening. After consulting the duty manager and being directed to the taxi drivers, a driver was deciding whether he might help us when I heard the sound of our engine running! We can only attribute the engine starting to the help of God, for which we were very thankful. Then we were on our way. Lawk was crying during most of this time, and even something to eat did not settle him long because of his sore throat. As we rode up to Jerusalem he slept fitfully in his mother's lap, with periods of crying along the way. It is clear he does not feel well, and I will be surprised if he is not admitted tomorrow when he goes for his initial examination at the hospital.

In spite of her fatigue and certain anxiety over the events she was experiencing, Lawk's mom was very patient and kind to her son throughout the time we spent together this evening. I gave her the medicine for Lawk as soon as we arrived at the house, and explained to her that they would go to the hospital early in the morning. I left them preparing for bed, after our arrival awakened the other families, thereby allowing her the chance to see the mothers of Rezhin and Tarza again. They became acquainted a few days ago at Dirk's home.

Please pray fervently for Lawk's body to begin to be healed tonight as he rests. Pray that his mother can also get some rest for the impactful days ahead, during which their lives will be changed forever. We will give you an update tomorrow after Lawk's visit to Schneider Children's Hospital.