Mohammed's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Every Face Tells A Story

Posted on Sun, 05/05/2013 - 12:48 by Jared Noble

I remember the first time I met Mohammed. It was his passion for life, personality, and playful attitude that caught my attention. These things instantly drew me into a gentle love for him. He smiled, laughed, and my favorite: made as many different facial expressions as he could at me.

We would have epic battles, lasting only a few minutes, of trying to come up with the most unusual expression. He would win some, I would win some. Our battles would become more extravagant as we started to use surrounding objects.  We would copy one another by putting spoons in our mouths as we tried to be a walrus or some other animal.

From the first moment I saw him, I began to pray for him; I was instantly attached and felt connected to him. Mohammed

A Beautiful Restoration

Posted on Fri, 05/03/2013 - 01:07 by Kristina Kayser

No one was more ready to go to the hospital this morning than Mohammed. He was the first one waiting in the courtyard, while everyone else made final preparations. When Mohammed thought we were taking too long, he poked his head in the door and yelled, "Yallah!" ("Let's go!") The reason for his excitement? This clever boy knew that today would most likely be his final echo; hence, the only hurdle that needed to be cleared before boarding a plane for Kurdistan. 

Upon arrival to Wolfson, we passed the waiting time with a tea party, picture-taking, and making silly faces. Mohammed is a professional at this last task.
When the doctor called him in, I watched in admiration as he bravely lay down on the exam table. It seemed that he had been given an extra dose of courage for today's test. In an attempt to help Mohammed maintain a stiff upper lip, Awa and I took it as our personal duty to be his jesters. Whimpers and frowns disappeared as we danced, joked, and made more silly faces in the background.
It worked a little too well, in that Mohammed's laughter began interrupting the doctor's steady hand. With a twinkle in his eye and a slight smile, Dr. Godfrey said, "We cannot tolerate polar extremes here. A child cannot be too sad or too happy during an echo."
After a very detailed exam, lasting over half an hour and several reviews, Dr. Alona announced that Mohammed and his mother could return to their beloved home! His heart continues to improve with stronger contractions each week. Over time, any remaining deficiencies will resolve, according to Dr. Alona. Mohammed's mother breathed a huge sigh of relief and said, "I was so afraid that it wouldn't go well today!" She then began lifting her hands in praise to God and overflowed in gratitude to all the doctors present. Mohammed, likewise, was jubilant and beamed in his photo with Dr. Alona. 
We praise God for His faithful love towards this sweet boy. How we shall all miss his charisma, affection, and humorous antics. But above all, we are thankful for the beautiful restoration that has taken place in Mohammed's brave heart.

Mohammed Nears the Finish Line

Posted on Mon, 04/29/2013 - 23:05 by Kristina Kayser

Not a day goes by without Mohammed saying or doing something to make me smile. His joy and enthusiasm for life are contagious, and in the weeks following his heart surgery, they have only increased. Medically, his body has also continued to heal per weekly follow up exams. Ruth and I had the pleasure of escorting Mohammed to another such appointment this morning with two other children. I could tell he had the hospital jitters and started giving him a pep talk outside the echo department. The prospect of going to the sea afterward brought a big smile to his face and helped him take courage.

When Mohammed's turn came, he started whimpering and clinging tightly to his mother's hand. With continued encouragement, he made it through the entire echo without a single tear shed. Dr. Hanita chimed in to say, "You are such a good boy today!"

The ultrasound revealed that Mohammed's heart is in satisfactory condition. It is not contracting quite as strong as doctors would like, but is functioning consistently nonetheless. Dr. Alona decided to reduce his medications and invite him back this Thursday for his final echo. She believes that Mohammed will be ready to return to Kurdistan by week's end! His mother rejoiced in this announcement and thanked Dr. Alona profusely with several kisses.

A quick trip to the Mediterranean before heading home was the perfect way to celebrate Mohammed's progress. He reveled in the lapping waves, beckoning me to take him deeper. At one point, he even assigned me the task of catching a fish for him with a sand strainer. When I came back empty handed, he frowned, obviously disappointed in my lack of hunting skills and asked, "No fish?!" Thankfully, the Kurdish mothers came to the rescue with a picnic lunch they had prepared.

These next days are sure to be full of joy with Mohammed. As his time in Israel draws to a close, a new season awaits this adventurous boy. I believe the vast horizon we gazed out at today is a fitting image of the limitless love and grace that God has prepared for him.

An Unexpected Hospital Visit

Posted on Fri, 04/26/2013 - 00:30 by Ruth Zellweger

In my recent daily assessments Mohammed has had an irregular heartbeat several times.  Out of concern, we called the cardiologists today and asked what they recommend we do; we were instructed to bring him in for a checkup.

Aad, Marilyn, and I took Mohammed and Mubin to the hospital. Mohammed did not display any irregular heartbeats during his Echo; although, to make sure that everything was ok, the cardiologist ordered an EKG and blood test to check his electrolyte levels.  This meant we would have to wait until 2 pm for the blood test, which was not what we had expected.

When it was time for the tests, Mohammed

There are Fears to Overcome

Posted on Mon, 04/22/2013 - 18:36 by Ruth Zellweger

My friend Mohammed is a courageous young man.

He is not afraid to climb the high stone walls outside our Shevet house, which makes me hold my breath with worry.  And most days, he is overflowing with energy and joy. Today, however, it became apparent that he also just a little boy - who feels most secure in his mother

Continued Healing

Posted on Wed, 04/17/2013 - 20:15 by Ruth Zellweger

It has been exactly one week since my little friend Mohammed came back to Jerusalem, and ever since then has cheered me up whenever I have seen him. He is mischievous on one side, and on the other he is perceptive and attentive - a little gentleman.

Today we went for his first follow-up echo, and his mother was eager to hear how his heart was healing. She was not disappointed by the result of the echo. The doctor confirmed that Mohammed is healing, although the contractions of his heart are still not as the doctors desire. So one of his medications was increased to improve this. After the echo was done, Mohammed

Joy From Our Father's Heart

Posted on Wed, 04/10/2013 - 22:54 by Karen

Sonia, Kristina and I drove off earlier today to the Wolfson Hospital with Jesse at the wheel--newly qualified with his Israeli driving license--to finally collect Mohammed and his Mum and bring them home to Prophets Street. We had a great journey there with worship music, blue skies, fabulous scenery, and a sense of the peace of G-d permeating the atmosphere in the minibus. 

As we arrived at Wolfson we saw Mohammed waiting for us with his mother. He was all smiles as we approached, and eagerly began chatting in Kurdish to Jesse and Kristina. He was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, taking everything in, and looking forward to coming back home to Shevet.

Jesse made the mistake of clicking onto a computer game with his mobile phone, and we found taht Mohammed was loathe to leave his newfound joy--he got so excited by the little computer car going up and down hills and along various roads as he controlled its route.

However Sonia and I did tempt him away for a moment, at the promise of posing for photos--which he does really well--and with such a beautiful smile!

Mohammed is fine and looks so incredibly happy. Our G-d is so good and so faithful!

Before we left Sonia, Jesse and I took Mohammed to the play area (whilst Kristina checked up on other children in the hospital).

We had a great time colouring with Mohammed, and making rows of paper boys and paper trees! It was a great day, and everything was positive and good. 

Our return journey was lovely again: clear roads, Kurdish praise music, happy faces, smiles all round. What else could we need? Joy from our Father's heart.

Mohammed on the Mend

Posted on Tue, 04/09/2013 - 22:40 by Kristina Kayser

Yesterday morning, I found Mohammed sitting straight up in bed with a big smile on his face. All of his IVs and chest tubes had disappeared as well. His mother was equally cheerful and no sooner had I sat down, that she began to express her gratitude for her son's good health. "If Mohammed is well, then that is all that matters," she said several times. I remembered how she once explained to me how neither she nor her husband have any living relatives and that Mohammed was the most precious thing in the world to them. There is no doubt that this woman deeply loves her little boy and that he loves her back.

After playing with Mohammed for a few minutes, his nurse came to announce that he was just about to be moved out secondary ICU to the pediatric ward. What progress! The day continued to provide good news for him when we headed across the hospital campus together to the echo department. On the way, I marveled at the fact that Mohammed was walking so steadily without tiring. It was only five days days prior that he had been in the operating room. Through his echo results, Dr. Alona confirmed that his heart was healing tremendously and had made dramatic improvements since his first post-op day. She even considered sending him home in the afternoon, but in the end, decided to keep him overnight.

Mohammed was even more himself during today's hospital visit. His playful, and sometimes mischievous personality has begun to resurface. Silly faces and antics were plentiful as he played and hung around his "big sisters," Eilin and Ruth. While we expected to welcome him back to Jerusalem this afternoon, doctors decided to postpone his discharge once again. His heart contractions were not quite strong enough during the most recent echo exam, although he's still making progress. While we wait and trust God for His perfect timing, we also praise Him for how far Mohammed has come. It won't be long before our community will receive him home once again.

Mohammed Healing Slowly

Posted on Sun, 04/07/2013 - 20:39 by Ruth Zellweger

Three days have gone by since I last saw my little friend Mohammed, and I was looking forward to spending some time with him today. On our way to the hospital Kristina called and told me that Mohammed had been moved from the Primary ICU to Secondary ICU. The doctors had kept him longer in Primary ICU because he had developed pneumothorax (collection of free air in the chest outside the lung that causes the lung to collapse), which needed to be treated with a chest tube. When we arrived at the hospital, we found Mohammed as expected in Secondary ICU, sitting in his bed, and looking a little bit miserable. I asked him if he had any pain. He had not, but was hungry instead. The nurses had earlier informed his mother that Mohammed would have to fast until the chest tube was removed this afternoon. This was good news for us, but not so much for hungry Mohammed. During our whole visit he rarely offered a smile. It is obvious that he is healing, but also that he is not his old self yet. I am looking forward to having him and his mother back at our house at Shevet, and I pray that he continues to heal well.

Room to Breathe: Mohammed One Day Post-Op

Posted on Thu, 04/04/2013 - 22:24 by Kristina Kayser

If you've never stepped foot inside an Intensive Care Unit, you must know that the general environment can be quite a shock to the senses. Everything about is unnatural, from the cacophony of machines beeping to any variety of tube and wire, spinning webs around each bed. Children who should be laughing and running about, lay confined to gurneys. Yet, there is also something sacred about this place, where life hangs in the balance for better or for worse. And while I have been a nurse for several years, the sight of a child I know and love newly recovering from heart surgery is no less than striking.

Today, this child was Mohammed. The last time I saw him, his eyes sparkled above a mischievous grin. Now one day post-op, his eyes fluttered open and closed again, moaning softly. A white gauze covered the fresh incision on his chest. His mother kept faithful vigil beside her only son, waiting for opportunities to care for him. Just a few short hours prior, Dr. Alona had performed an echo that showed wonderful results. None of the concerns from yesterday's report, including an aortic valve leak, were present today. In fact, Dr. Alona said Mohammed's heart looks perfect and that he doesn't need any further surgery. They also took him off of mechanical ventilation, requiring only minimal oxygen through a mask. His mother's face shone as I shared the good news with her. Tears of joy filled her eyes as she raised her hands in praise to God. It was beautiful to see her burden lifted.

Though Mohammed was still semi-sedated with analgesia, he woke up long enough to drink small sips of water from a syringe. He was so thirsty that at one point, he looked up at me a little perturbed and asked for a glass of water. He probably could have gulped several glasses in a minute if we had let him. But in order not to upset his stomach, I tried to explain that he needed to go slowly. Having his mother near quieted his anxieties, and he was soon at rest. I believe the Lord heard our prayers for Mohammed and is healing him as only He can. Amidst the keen sobriety of the ICU, the peace of God was profoundly felt. Looking from mother to son in light of this peace, I would say they both have room to breathe.