Mohammed's Heart Surgery


Mohammed's Second Surgery in One Week

Posted on Sun, 07/26/2009 - 01:00 by Justin_Strong
We arrived at Wolfson Hospital in Tel Aviv this morning bright and early at 7 am to see nine year old Mohammed off to his second open-heart surgery this week. When we first caught up to Mohammed in the pre-op room he was not his normal self. He was very stoic and seemed to be hiding a great deal of fear. However, after all the Shevet staff spent time with him, we all managed to comfort him and crack some good jokes and by the time he went into surgery he was the happy Mohammed we are used to.

Waiting with Abu (father of) Mohammed was a little easier going during this surgery, as he seemed slightly less anxious and nervous (as was I). During the wait we sat out in a courtyard prayed and enjoyed a pleasant day. I was able to talk him into eating lunch in the cafeteria after promising to let him know if I received word that the surgery was finished. Just after we finished lunch our short-term volunteer Maddison emerged from the operating room, letting us know that the surgery was completed and they would be wheeling Mohammed out shortly. At this Abu Mohammed let out a big sigh of relief, gave me a big hug and held back a few tears.

After we followed Mohammed into the ICU and were able to go in and see him, we were surprised to discover he was awake and responsive. Mohammed and his father made eye contact and Mohammed reached out his hand to his father and his father didn't let go until a doctor made him move to run more tests.

Over the next hour several Doctors came to check on Mohammed, his pulse, his vital signs, and an echocardiogram, to make sure the surgery was a complete success.

Pending Mohammed's recovery, the operation should give him a perfectly functioning heart.

Maddison was in the OR during the surgery, here is her report:
After recently establishing a relationship with Dr. Sasson I was invited to come into 9 year old Mohammed's final surgery at 8 am this morning. Emily also came into the surgery with me, and Justin was able to stay and comfort Abu Mohammed during the 5 hours it took to complete.

The doctor was excited to show Emily and I the pictures of Mohammed's heart before and after his previous surgery. We were able to see how small the aorta was, and what an amazing job they did in enlarging it. The results of the first surgery were so amazing and unexpected, and his recovery went so well, they decided to go ahead and do this second surgery and repair the hole in his heart.

The hole was in between the two ventricles and needed to be repaired with
Gore-tex so that blood could not mix and flow between them. During the surgery Mohammed was put on bypass, which is basically an artificial heart and lung machine that pumps oxygenated blood to the body during the surgery, completely bypassing Mohammed's heart so that they are able to stop it and work more effectively on it. Once the doctors were able to open the ventricle and get a better look, they saw that the hole was a lot bigger than they had originally thought. However, this didn't seem to slow them down, or worry them in the slightest and things continued right along.

We were able to walk with Abu Mohammed as they wheeled his son into the ICU, and we were all there as Mohammed slowly started to wake up. The surgery went extremely well, and this little boy who was turned away from multiple hospitals earlier in the year, should recover and be completely fine soon!

Mohammed Silent and Subdued

Posted on Thu, 07/23/2009 - 01:00 by Emily_Brooks

Today Mary and I walked quickly into the hospital excited to see Mohammed again. He was moved from the ICU into the ward yesterday because he has been recovering so well. He went in for a catheterization yesterday that reaffirmed that his body has been adjusting wonderfully to the changes in pressure that occurred as a result of his heart operation. Because he has responded so well to the surgery, if there are no complications, Mohammed will be going in for a second surgery at the beginning of next week! This is a huge unexpected blessings as initially doctors were saying it would probably be at least a year before Mohammed would be able to have his second heart surgery. Praise God for all that He has done in this little boy!

During my visit with him today he seemed rather scared and overwhelmed. He remained silent and subdued the majority of the time although he occasionally looked up at me and whispered something. At one point his big smile did come through as I started talking to him in funny voices that he likes to hear!

When I left at the end of the day Mohammed was getting drowsy and finally beginning to drift off to sleep. Please continue to pray for Mohammed as his small body is still in critical condition.

Mohammed's Beautiful Repair

Posted on Wed, 07/22/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel

I was able to walk alongside a very groggy Mohammed this morning, who was not at all sure where we were going or why. Once in the cath waiting room, Mohammed figured out what was going on and began to cry a little and try to talk his dad out of the procedure. Thankfully we didn't have to wait long before the staff was ready for Mohammed and took him in to the cath lab.

Since this catheterization was only to check the results of Sunday's surgery, we knew it wouldn't take very long. After visiting with Akram and his mom, I returned to the cath lab waiting room. Abu Mohammed greeted me with a big smile on his face saying they'd just come out to let him know they were nearly finished, and everything looked really good. Shortly thereafter Dr. Alona came out to say that she is amazed at how good Mohammed's heart repair looks. She said it is beautiful, and walked away shaking her head in wonder over the results. She told us they definitely plan to go forward with the second surgery next week which will repair holes in Mohammed's heart. We waited just a few more minutes and Mohammed was wheeled out to us in the hallway, which gave an extremely grateful Abu Mohammed a chance to say thank you to all the catheterization team.

Mohammed was wheeled into the ICU for only a short time, and then, because he's doing so well, he was moved to the ward! I couldn't help but think that if he was awake enough to realize what was happening he'd be upset, since he wanted to be in the ICU beside Akram so they could visit.

When we left the hospital late this afternoon Mohammed was still sleeping, and at last his father was able to get some much-needed rest too in the chair beside his son.

Mohammed Recovering; to Cath in the Morning

Posted on Tue, 07/21/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel

Today's visit to Mohammed brought more good news on his recovery. Doctors had allowed Mohammed to eat and drink by the time we were able to see him. He was glad to see us, but more sleepy than yesterday and under more sedation. His father is such an excellent caregiver for Mohammed, and has requested soup from the moms in Jerusalem for tomorrow so Mohammed will eat well and rebuild his strength quickly.

While we were visiting today, Abu Mohammed called me to his side and pulled out a paper which he explained was a letter of thanks he's written which he wanted on the Internet:

To all my friends around the world especially from Iraq, America, Israel, and Jerusalem:

I thank you alot for your goodness and your prayers for healing for my son Mohammed in his first operation (the artery between his heart and his body). It was causing pressure on the lungs and that is why he needed the surgery (a miracle from God). And his case was sent to different hospitals around the world but they couldn't do the surgery. I thank you once again for your prayers. Please pray for his next surgery which is closing the holes in his heart. Special thanks for the doctors in Wolfson Hospital in Israel.

At the same time, I presented him with some of the prayer letters those of you around the world have sent to encourage Mohammed and his dad. 

He enjoyed reading them, and responded with more thanks.

During the morning as the tending doctors came in to check on Mohammed they shared that the catheterization will go forward Wednesday morning. Later Abu Mohammed whispered this same information to me so that his son would not hear it and become agitated. He said Dr. Tamir had let him know about this plan, and clearly this made Abu Mohammed feel better about the second surgery planned so soon.

Although Mohammed was mostly sleeping through today's visit, every time he heard the name of his friend Akram he'd wake up and check to see if Akram was in the ICU beside him. He was comforted that he'd be there soon, and went back to sleep. Finally when Akram did arrive after surgery, and Mohammed realized they'd finished hooking up all of the post-op meds and equipment, he was insistent that Akram's bed be moved beside his. Needless to say, the nurses could not re-arrange the ICU for Mohammed, and this made him cry. We hope that eventually the two of them will be close enough together to feel each other's encouragement during their tandem recovery period.

Please pray for Mohammed and the doctors who'll perform tomorrow's catheterization, as well as his dad as he waits for the results.


Mohammed Awake and Thirsty

Posted on Mon, 07/20/2009 - 07:49 by Donna_Petrel

I couldn't wait to get into the ICU this morning to see Mohammed, after several phone calls to the ICU informed us that he'd done well through the night. He did wake up this morning from the anesthesia as hoped, praise to God! By the time I arrived, he was extubated, and drinking water as well as talking. He was very anxious to see his good friend Akram, but Akram was not allowed to enter the ICU, but stood at the door and waved and spoke to him very briefly. He asked if Akram could be in the ICU bed beside him after Akram's own surgery tomorrow, so they could see and talk to each other. When Dina was wheeled in, he was also concerned about the success of her surgery. In other words, he's still expressing that caring heart we'd seen before his surgery for the other children.

But once his mind was not so nobly occupied, he would turn to his dad and beg give him to give him some juice even though the doctor said he should only have water at that point.

To him it was such a big disappointment he would cry for a minute, then fall asleep again. But when he was awake, his eyes were clear and his mind was focused. He wanted to talk alot, but then got very thirsty and begged again for water...and was annoyed that his hands were tied down to keep him from removing his oxygen mask so he could better try to get his way -- it was actually comical. I left him sleeping soundly after some big sips of water soothed his agitation.

Abu Mohammed is quite overjoyed at his son's successful surgery. He said thank you over and over, and where in the past weeks he's worn a very heavy countenance, he now is wearing an encouraged smile. What a blessing for everyone to see the change! He is keeping a bedside vigil and carefully tending Mohammed. And Mohammed wanted his dad around today as he was waking up.

Dr. Sasson came by to see Mohammed while I was there, and said they are indeed hoping to be able to do the second surgery next week, and feel Mohammed will be ready. I continue to marvel at the way God is answering our prayers, and I know we can continue to trust Him to do so. Please join us in giving thanks, and continuing to pray for Mohammed, his father, and the medical team of Save A Child's Heart

Surgery Day At Last

Posted on Sun, 07/19/2009 - 07:49 by Alex_Pettett
Donning a blue surgical cap and matching scrubs I walked into Mohammeds pre-op room at Wolfson Medical Center. Where there was once a perky and playful nine-year old boy I found a child on the verge of tears shivering with fears and intermittently being overcome with waves of panic (pictured above with his father in green scrubs, and fellow heart patient Akram in blue). Mohammed's eyes darted around the room and he reached out for my hand. When he clasped his fingers around mine I could see his body visibly relax. For the next few minutes I gave petitions to the Lord for healing, calm, peace and grace. We told him that seven of us had come from the Shevet center in Jerusalem to be with him in these final moments before surgery. Each face he beheld sent new waves of calm through him.

Mohammed was asked to be a man this day as he fully realized the mortality set before him. For better or worse Mohammed had no illusions that this surgery wasn't very high-risk. He remembers well each of the four hospitals in four different countries that all said his heart was inoperable.

One of our volunteers, Emily, walked into the room and playfully began to mimic a doctor pretending to check vital signs. Akram joined in the sport and they imitated doing the actual surgery and tossing the heart about the pre-op room. Mohammed lit up with laughter.

Justin recounts that as they came to take Mohammed to the operating theater he began to cry fearfully. Akram hugged Mohammed, and the medical team graciously allowed Mohammeds dad to hold his hand until Mohammeds eyes closed under general anesthesia.

Thus began the wait.

We walked outside with the fragile father who was consistently blotting his eyes and trembling from time to time. The morning passed slowly with Abu (father of) Mohammed saying little, staring into the distance and answering calls from anxious relatives in Iraq.

Six hours after we last saw Mohammed we were told they were finishing up. One hour later the update came that he still had at least two more hours.

When they finally brought Mohammed up from the theater his father leapt from his chair and followed his bed into the ICU. Click this link and watch to the end to see the scene over the father's shoulder

Outside the ICU the surgeon Lior Sasson met us and explained the surgery:

The surgery was done in two stages. In the first stage they rebuilt part of his arch, which was extremely narrow (about a 10th the side of his other arch). Using a piece of cow vein the arch was enlarged.

Following this the surgeon put a band on the aortic arch to restrict blood flow since the body was now receiving more blood, systemically, than Mohammed had ever had in his life.

All in all the surgery went better than expected and Mohammeds pulmonary hypertension had an amazing reduction. This hypertension can often kill a young person receiving this type of surgery so late in childhood. Another remarkable development was that they feel they will be able to do the second surgery in just a few days if indeed his hypertension is as low as they suspect. The second surgery will be to close the large VSD.

Abu Mohammed kissed Dr. Sassons hand and wept with relief. We left Abu Mohammed wetting our shoulders with tears and giving thanks to God.

The Wait is Almost Over

Posted on Sun, 07/12/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel

A few days ago Mohammed's father met with the leaders of the Save A Child's Heart surgical team about Mohammed's surgery, currently scheduled for this Thursday morning. During the past few weeks he has been both discouraged and frustrated at the long wait, and continually anxious for his son to have the surgery he needs. Sometimes he says he feels it's better if he goes to wait in Iraq ... he left his family and work there months ago to find the help Mohammed needs. While it's certainly worth the wait in the big picture, it's very difficult on a day to day basis to wait for something so major for such a long time. The doctors are planning to go forward with the surgery because they believe it is the only chance Mohammed has at life. At the same time, they wanted his father to be aware of the seriousness of the surgery itself, and the possible outcomes. This will be the first of two surgeries Mohammed will need, and the most difficult of the two.

Mohammed himself has been frustrated that other children have had their turns ahead of him, as he understands he must have this surgery to live. There have been a few days he's succumbed to tears; sometimes because he misses his mother and his home, and sometimes because he wants to have his turn for surgery. Many days when we return from the hospital he asks us, "Mohammed's surgery tomorrow?" or "Mohammed goes to the hospital tomorrow?" Now that the date is set he checks with us to be sure it hasn't changed. Several of
us have noticed in the past few weeks that Mohammed seems to be getting more tired more quickly. Perhaps this can be attributed to the heat, but we're all aware that this active little boy is not as active as he was recently. He has continued to endear himself to us with his spunky sense of humor, his intelligence, his creative ways to get attention, and his concern for all the other children in the house and the hospital. He came to us several months ago with a lot of anger, and has responded to the love and care, and yes, the discipline he's received here by allowing us to know the special compassionate little boy that he is.

While he waits, he asks nearly daily if he can go to the park or the beach. We've made both of these outings possible in the past, as well as a visit to the Garden Tomb, but currently are staying close to home because the doctor has said Mohammed doesn't need so much activity.

He loves to spend time with his friend Akram, feeling he's like a big brother, along with our college- aged volunteers here at the house. And Akram carries the role well. The two of them have been most satisfied hanging out together lately while either listening to Kurdish music, working on arts and crafts, kicking a ball around the courtyard, or using the office computer.

Please keep Mohammed and his dad covered in your prayers this week. They will head to the hospital on Wednesday for admission, and the surgery will begin early Thursday morning Israel time. We're praying here for a supernaturally excellent outcome for Mohammed, and supernatural peace for his father. We hope you will maintain the vigil in prayer with us as we entrust them to the skills of the doctors, and God's loving care.

Fun in the Sun on Eve of Surgery

Posted on Mon, 06/29/2009 - 01:00 by Annessa_Mosier

After weeks and weeks of irresistible brown eyes pleading for a trip to the ocean, today Mohammed finally stepped foot in the long awaited salty water. As soon as the van stopped Mohammed bolted out and eagerly grabbed Justin's, hand and raced to the sandy shore. His first moments in the water were a hilarious sight to behold.

He was clearly shocked by the roughness of the waves and squealed as their force pushed him back onto the sand. After only a few moments in the water Mohammed got a mouth full of water as the waves were flung by the wind into his direction. He gagged and very seriously informed everyone that the experience of tasting the salty wave was, "no good, no good." Eventually, he resorted to simply laying on his belly in the shallowest part of the beach in order to let the water gently roll over his body.

All in all, Mohammed's first trip to the ocean was an exciting and fun experience for everyone involved. Even his father had some childhood fun as he and Mohammed played on the beach playground.

Praise God for fun times and hearts filled with joy, because as the word says a joyful heart is good medicine! Let's remember to pray for Mohammed during his surgery which is potentially scheduled for this coming Thursday.

One Tooth Pulled, One Capped In Dental Surgery

Posted on Sat, 05/23/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel

Yesterday on the way down to the hospital, Mohammed was better able to contain his fear and remain cordial until just before his dental surgery. The anxiety level rose as we entered the clinic, but still he was okay until they called him back for the procedure itself. He fought the effects of the initial sedative, and even the effects of the anesthesia, but at last he fell asleep and the dentist could begin her work.

While his father settled down after Mohammed's emotional display, the dentist pulled a tooth which was badly infected, and capped another which was becoming decayed. After the procedure Dr. Deeb explained that Mohammed was now ready for his heart surgery, as the amount of infection in the tooth would have been very dangerous had it gotten into Mohammed's bloodstream and gone to his heart. Even as the gum began to heal, his body would be in better health than it had been with the infected tooth in place, the doctor explained, saying it should not cause a delay in Mohammed's surgery date.

Mohammed was very agitated when he started to wake up about an hour later, crying off and on as he slept. After another hour the anesthesia wore off and Dr. Deeb convinced him to try walking around. He at first refused, saying he wanted to go home. But when it was explained to him that he couldn't go home until he was awake, he staggered around the waiting area a few times, and drank water enough to become revived. He was rewarded with a balloon and some stickers, and we were on our way.

The only challenge we had once we arrived at home was being sure Mohammed did not eat any solid food until today -- he was trying to sneak things to eat because he was so hungry!

We found out this evening that Mohammed's surgery will be delayed a few days due to a change in the surgery schedule after Hamza's several surgeries yesterday. Let's keep praying for him and his dad as we wait to find out the appointed time for Mohammed's heart to be repaired.

Broken Tooth Must Be Pulled

Posted on Thu, 05/21/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel

Mohammed's father came to us a few nights ago indicating that Mohammed had a problem with a broken tooth, so we began working out a solution for treatment the next morning. Because caution is necessary when dealing with teeth and the heart, and Mohammed's heart problem is so serious, cardiologist Dr. Tamir was able to help us find the best doctor for treating Mohammed. The Save A Child's Heart program refers patients to a clinic which has an anesthetist who works with their heart cases part time, as well as a dentist, and we were able to have an appointment this morning.

Mohammed is very fearful of pain, and began to fret when he thought the tooth would be pulled this morning. As it turned out, today's visit was only a preliminary exam by both the dentist and the anesthetist so that all would be in order for tomorrow when the tooth will be removed. Mohammed was very happy once he learned he would keep his broken tooth one more day.

A woman in the waiting area became friends with him by showing him that she had just had a tooth pulled and it was not difficult. She said she would try to return to drink tea with us in the morning and see how Mohammed does.

When we left the clinic we made a quick trip over to Wolfson to see how Hamza and Shadi are doing today. Mohammed has been asking about his friend, and wanted very much to enter the ICU to see him. Since this is forbidden, we told him we'd show him a picture after Justin and I visited while he stayed outside with his good friend Akram (pictured below). It was a beautiful day and we all enjoyed sitting outside for a brief visit.

Mohammed will take an antibiotic in preparation for his procedure and needs to fast after 7:00 a.m. tomorrow. Please pray that he is able to remain peaceful until and while the doctor sedates him. It is our hope that he will still be able to undergo his heart surgery which is tentatively scheduled for early next week. But if it needs to be delayed for the tooth to heal, it will be a blessing to have the problem solved so it won't cause complications for Mohammed after surgery.