Mohammed 's Heart Surgery


Mohammed returns to Iraq

Posted on Thu, 10/29/2009 - 22:47 by Donna_Petrel

From the time we returned home after Mohammed B's final echo, his mother was full of thanks and excitement knowing that Mohammed was free to go home. The day we planned to leave, we had car trouble, so we  met together with all three of our departing patients' parents in a joint decision about the travel plans for their long-awaited return to Iraq. The new plan was to leave one day later, so Tuesday evening we had a big farewell dinner with all of our families and staff, and very early Wednesday morning embarked on the beginnings of their mega-travel day. We left Jerusalem a little after six in the morning, and by day's end, Bilal, Mohammed B, and Noor were all home with their families in Iraq! Our trip to the border went well, and due to our early arrival in the morning there was no wait to get through passport control on the Israel side. We walked out of the terminal directly onto the bus as the driver was kind enough to wait for these little ones once he understood we were on a tight schedule headed straight to the airport in Jordan. Watch the video here.

While the timing for their travel was wonderful, it meant our goodbyes were very brief since we had to hurry to load our precious cargo into their seat. Mohammed embraced each of us with a big hug while the officials checked the passports, then he excitedly waved until they rolled out of sight. He was full of joy knowing that he was returning home to his family, but never stopped treating us as if we were family too; in fact we discussed this very topic around the table the previous evening.

All of us develop unique bonds of relationship during our time together, and Mohammed and his mother were especially open to give and to receive in our relationships. Even through the delight of going home the difficulty of parting was evident, and the hope that we might be able to visit one another in Iraq was one of Mohammed's mother's final comments as she looked deep into my eyes with tears of gratitude. Please join us in thanking God for His touch to this precious boy and his family. May He receive all the praise for Mohammed's new life ahead!

Mohammed Heading Home!

Posted on Mon, 10/26/2009 - 22:46 by Donna_Petrel
Mohammed went for his final echocardiogram today and was given the good news that he is released to go home! He and his mother were very excited and called home immediately to let their family know the wonderful report. Ever since we got this good news, this affectionate boy has been giving even more affection to all of us, his eyes twinkling, and often adding thank you to his gestures of gratitude and joy. His mother too is full of thanks, and has been thinking ahead how to best care for her son when back home in a matter of days.

She amazes us with her detailed questions and careful attention to the practical matters of Mohammed's recovery. This evening as we sat and talked about their dismissal report and travel plans, she listened intently to everyone's conversation, and then brought up the specifics that a school-age boy would face when he returns. The doctor even commented today about what a wonderful mother she is; all of us have noticed it, and I believe this is why Mohammed has such confidence in his mother's words and actions on his behalf. It is beautiful to observe their relationship, and we're happy for them to be leaving with their prayers answered for Mohammed's healthy heart. Please pray for them as they go that the hope and future God created for Mohammed will be realized to the fullest extent, for He deserves all the thanks and credit for the life Mohammed has been given.

Mohammed Doing Well After Check Up!

Posted on Tue, 10/20/2009 - 22:46 by Donna_Petrel
This Monday Mohammed returned to Wolfson for a follow-up echocardiogram. Dr. Alona found that his heart is healing well, and plans for him to be dismissed next week after one more echo. Both Mohammed and his mother were so excited with this news! Like the other parents, Mohammed's mother wanted a round of photos showing scenes they would like to remember about their experiences at the hospital. It was fun to share in this request with her as she loves having her picture made, and is always coming up with creative photo opportunities. Mohammed was content to hang out with his friends, or occupy his time in the playroom. His strength is rebuilding day by day as is his concern and care for others. Let's keep praying for his healing to be completed, and the hope of returning home soon to be realized next week.

Mohammed Released From the Hospital

Posted on Tue, 10/06/2009 - 22:47 by

This morning we arrived early at Wolfson Medical Center in Tel Aviv. As I entered Mohammed B's room, his mother broke out into a beautiful smile even as she was waking up! She was so glad to see us, even though we had only recently met. Mohammed woke up slowly without the realization that this was to be a celebration day for him.

When Dr. Tamir made his rounds this morning, he said, "He can have an echo and then be discharged!" His mother and I rejoiced at this news. As we were waiting for his echo and the release papers to be signed, Mohammed was so glad to be coming back to the house at Shevet Achim to be with his playmates. To pass the time, I played soccer foosball with him. and we had a great time!

Mohammed was very good and patient on the ride back to Jerusalem with his ever-smiling mom. We could here whisperings and laughing on the way, and when we came home the other children were very excited to see him. It was a grand welcome 'home' for him! His love of life and gentle spirit win over everyone who meets him. I am blessed to know him and his sweet mom. They are treasures!

Mohammed Well Enough to Play Foosball

Posted on Mon, 10/05/2009 - 06:48 by Justin_Strong

Mohammed was doing great today. When I entered his room this morning he had a new toy sitting on his lap, a miniature foosball table. I think I was more excited about it than he was, since he didn't seem quite sure how to work it, but after a few minutes of playing with him, he got the hang of it. We played for a good twenty minutes before I had to leave. Once I left short-term volunteer Connie took over and played with him another hour more.

Mohammed and his mother both seem to be doing very well and are in very good spirits, they were both all smiles while we were there.

Mohammed Leaves the ICU

Posted on Sun, 10/04/2009 - 22:47 by

Mohammed was strong enough to be transferred from the ICU to the ward this morning, where our short-term coworker Kathy found him and his mother in good spirits. The drainage tubes were removed today as well, another sure sign of progress.

Mohammed Blue No Longer

Posted on Thu, 10/01/2009 - 06:48 by Donna_Petrel

Mohammed was sleeping when Justin and I arrived at the hospital this morning, but his mother was sitting in a chair near his bed. She was thankful to see us, and we sat quietly together while Mohammed slept. Soon the nurses came to make rounds, and he woke up; Mohammed first glanced around for his mother, then noticed Justin and gave him a big grin. While we waited for the OR staff to come to take him to surgery, we played silly games with Mohammed, who never complained or cried or seemed anything but glad for his surgery day to have arrived. Once it was time to go, he rode happily down the hall - yes, happily, with a look of near delight on his face which I tried to capture on film.

His mother was slightly nervous and emotional, but managed her emotions well for the sake of her son. I also believe the thanks in her heart for what was happening was greater than the fear she might have been feeling about this surgery.

Once downstairs Mohammed exhibited the most joyful behavior I've seen from any child before surgery, as he sang while he played on his bed during the wait to go back to the operating room. His mother stood by watching him adoringly, or joining in on the games which we mostly made up as we passed the time, and all the while praying silently. At the appointed time she helped Mohammed onto the gurney, kissed him goodbye, and watched as he was wheeled out of sight. She took a few minutes to settle herself after a few tears, and we headed upstairs to wait. She wanted to sit outside for most of the hours while Mohammed was downstairs, and the other mothers joined her for encouragement. Around eleven-thirty she became a little restless and wanted to go sit at "the corner" where we can see patients passing between the operating room and the ICU. Our wait there was about two hours, but almost exactly five hours after Mohammed was taken into surgery we saw the operating room staff bringing him towards us. Mohammed's mother literally ran down the hall to see her son, grasping the gurney to keep in step with the medical team rolling him quickly to the ICU.

After gazing at him intently, she asked if the surgery was good. One of the surgery team was walking beside me so I passed the question to her, and she replied that it was a good surgery. When I reported this news to Mohammed's mother she began to laugh with joy. She paused to give hugs to me and Noor's and Mohammed's mothers, then hurried again to catch up with the gurney. Her smile grew bigger along the way, and when we reached the door of the ICU where she had to stop, she realized she was shaking with excitement. We sat her down in the waiting area so she could talk with the other mothers who came to greet her and thank God with her.

When all the monitors and medications were in place Mohammed's mother was allowed to go into the ICU to see her son again. His left hand was out from under the sheet, and she immediately drew my attention to it as she compared her own fingernails to his.

Instead of the blue pallor they'd always had because of lack of oxygen, Mohammed's fingernails were now the same healthy pink as his mother's and mine. She was so thrilled she asked for a picture immediately. Then she noticed his lips, also no longer blue, but pink. I pointed out the 98% blood oxygenation reading on the monitor. We spoke with an attending doctor who assured us that Mohammed's heart repair was completed in this one surgery, praise to God! Mohammed's mother hardly knew how to express her joyful thanks as she stood beside her son.

After she had looked him over completely she excused herself to go pray and thank God for everything. Doctors expect to be able to extubate Mohammed tomorrow and see him recover quickly. Join us in thanking God for Mohammed's excellent surgery. Let us pray for his healing to be completed quickly, so we can watch this special little boy experience new life from energy his body has never known before.

One More Day Until Surgery

Posted on Wed, 09/30/2009 - 06:48 by Donna_Petrel
30 September 2009
Mohammed was sleeping until after his little friend Noor went down for surgery. When he woke up and found out Noor was downstairs he had the computer/play room on his mind. His mother is careful to help him realize that he must eat, take his medicine, and submit to the doctor's examinations even though he would prefer to be in that playroom. Today he had one big hurdle to clear before he could spend time at the computer: the dreaded blood test and IV placement before his surgery in the morning. I must say he did better than I would have done, as he had to undergo six tries before the best doctor could locate a viable vein. He was very brave through his tears and tried hard not to cry very, but as you can imagine, he had a very hard time enduring so much discomfort. Once it was over he gladly headed to the playroom, looking sadly at the places he had to be stuck without success. Thankfully he forgot about it by the time he joined Noor's mother and the other moms in the hallway waiting for Noor's return from surgery. He saw his little friend go past, and was excited about knowing his surgery was done. Later back in the playroom he spontaneously looked up from his craft project, and asked if he was still having his surgery in the morning.

I wondered if he was beginning to feel fearful, but when I answered that he would still have his surgery tomorrow, the same happy smile filled his face that I saw yesterday. Likewise, as Justin and I were leaving this afternoon, Mohammed's mother asked to be sure his surgery was still on schedule for the morning, and was filled with thanks when I said yes. Such joy from this mother and son over the gift of heart surgery compels me to love them even more than I already do, and causes me to think of our heavenly Father as He lovingly receives our responses for all the good gifts He gives to us. May we follow their example of looking for the blessings even in the midst of difficulties, and receiving them with joy and thanks to God! Please keep Mohammed and his mother, as well as their family in your prayers tomorrow as he undergoes open heart surgery. Remember to lift up the heart of this sweet mother as she will surely recall the loss of her other son at this time; may God grant her the desire of her heart for Mohammed.

Two Days Until Surgery

Posted on Tue, 09/29/2009 - 06:48 by Donna_Petrel
This morning while visiting Mohammed and his mother the doctors came through for their morning rounds. After examining Mohammed's chart Dr. Tamir confirmed the tentative surgery date for Mohammed: the day after tomorrow (Thursday). We were all relieved, but what I saw happen before me between Mohammed and his mother goes far beyond relief; it was the precious response to the news they've waited for all Mohammed's life.

As the doctor's orders were translated to Arabic and then Kurdish, I was watching the face of Mohammed's mother. She received the news with a broad smile and lifted her hands in thanks to God, and simultaneously turned to look at her son. He wanted to be sure he heard right "doo bayanii"? - the second morning from now? When his mother affirmed his words, he began to clap and laugh and crawled across the bed to give his mother a big hug. As I leaned over to give them a hug I heard him say joyfully "doo bayanii!" with a very satisfied tone of voice. It was clear this seven-year-old had just been granted the desire of his heart - in every sense of the phrase - his little boy's dreams were coming true, the chance to have a healthy heart. Of course it was impossible to capture such a moment on film, and my words can hardly convey the near-sacredness of it, for clearly God was at work. But I hope in a small way I'm able to give you a window into the reality of the gift these surgeries are to these families. Not only to the parents and adult relatives, but also to the children themselves, who sometimes are tender enough to allow us the blessing of seeing how precious they deem the opportunity given them. Let us remember to pray for Mohammed and his mother through tomorrow as they await the reality of the answer to their prayers and ours. May God heal this tenderhearted boy so he will live to let others know about the gift of life he is about to receive.

Battling With Pain, and Mother's Fear

Posted on Sun, 09/27/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel

This morning as we were about to leave for the hospital with Hamza, Mohammed's mother wanted to speak with me about a problem he was having. I climbed the stairs to where Mohammed stood looking at me through the fence, and realized he had big tears running down his cheeks. I thought at first he was discouraged because he had not yet been called in for his heart surgery, for he is a sensitive boy who notices everything about the people around him. He is aware that his little friend Noor is scheduled for surgery in the coming week, and that only he and Ikram are left after this. But his mother began to explain that his head was hurting very badly, and his heart beating very fast. I called Elan, our Kurdish friend, to translate clearly for me, and then called the hospital. Because in a matter of a few hours we'll begin Yom Kippur here, neither we nor the hospital wanted to take any chances on any problems with Mohammed occurring on the highest holy day in Israel, when there are NO cars on the roads.

When we arrived, everything appeared normal as nurses checked Mohammed's blood pressure, oxygen level (given his heart condition 84% was not bad), and the EKG (pictured above). They spoke with the doctor and decided to give him some pain medication and observe him for a few hours. Mohammed only wanted to lie down and rest, and was very quiet and somber, which is uncharacteristic for him. He is typically a happy, fun-loving little boy who is a 'people person', wanting to help the children around him. I was able to coax a few smiles from him for the camera, but apart from enjoying seeing his little friend Noor, he had few smiles today.

During the bulk of the two hours Mohammed rested in a bed in the ward, but then came to Noor's room to share a meal the hospital was willing to give him since he had to stay through lunch, and there was no other food service in preparation for Yom Kippur. When the nurses examined Mohammed again, they still found all his vital signs ok, but Mohammed's headache had not abated, so the decision was made to keep him for observation. A stronger pain med will be given, and if necessary, a blood test will be done to look for infection in the body. Also in the interim, he was heading for an eye exam when we headed back to Jerusalem.

As I ask you to pray for this sweet little boy and his mother, I want to share something to help you know their reality. We learned on Friday afternoon that Mohammed had an older brother who had the same heart condition as he does, but this brother died when he was 9 months old because in Iraq the doctors could not help him. His mother seems to be more and more vulnerable to the pain of this loss as she knows her son is waiting for and approaching the date of his surgery. To me it seems she is battling both the fear of waiting too long for the needed surgery, along with the anxiety that she will lose another son if the operation does not go well. Will you please pray for healing for the pain in her heart? She is such a vibrant woman otherwise, clearly fun-loving, and has taught her son to have a giving and gentle heart. It is our hope to come alongside her as a comfort the best we can as she walks through these painful memories from the past while dealing with the anxiety every parent feels when their child goes through something so major. Thank you for your prayers for these precious ones.