Mohammed's Heart Surgery


Difficult CT Scan Requires Overnight in Hospital

Posted on Mon, 05/11/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel
Early yesterday morning we took Mohammed down to Wolfson Hospital for a CT scan ordered by the doctors to help them "map" the vessels of his heart before his surgery. Mohammed asked me repeatedly if he would have to stay there or return to the house, and I repeatedly told him he would be back home later that day. This seemed in his mind to make the trip acceptable to him, so that he agreed to go amiably. Little did I know what a difficult day it would prove to be for Mohammed and his father.

Mohammed, like most of us, hates needles, but he shows how much he hates them quite vocally while the nurses and doctors work to do what's needed. I didn't realize that in order to have a CT he would need to have a port in his arm, but such was the case. I believe he began to doubt my word to him about coming back home at the moment he saw what was happening. Although he was not quite as violently upset yesterday as he was on Tuesday while being prepped for his Wednesday catheterization, he was still very unhappy and wanted everyone to know it. I talked to the doctor and made sure I'd understood correctly about him returning to the house after the test, and she said yes. I reassured Mohammed and his father, and we waited for our turn to go get the test. Mohammed had to fast from food and liquids from 4 AM, so we were hoping his test would be early, and he kept a good attitude about it most of the morning, occasionally peeking into his pack at the cookies he'd have later. He politely refused the many offers of food from the hospitable Palestinian patients visiting Akram's room where we waited. There was a computer problem keeping the ID labels from printing, and we had to wait till around 11 AM before we were told to go over for the test. All of us were relieved, and Dr. Ruth even walked with Mohammed to help comfort him because of his fear that this test would hurt. I waited outside for their return, expecting happy faces when all was done, but instead father, son and doctor walked out with very serious looks on their faces. A small sized needle had been inserted in Mohammed's arm for the test, and when the iodine used in the injection was released, his vein couldn't stand the pressure, and the test could not be done. This meant he would have to have another port put in place, and another trip for a CT scan. But the worst news was that they couldn't do it in the same day because enough iodine had gone into his system that he'd have to wait overnight for another test. No wonder they looked so disappointed! At least they knew the exact reason they were having to stay, and once the initial port was removed, Mohammed found some pajamas and headed to the playroom. Later he had to go through the procedure of having a new needle inserted, but seemed to fare a little better with that one. I decided not to accompany him for this round, and was thankful when he came back to the room with a smile on his face.

This morning when I called to find out the timing of the CT scan, he had already been called for the test, so Justin and I headed down to bring them home. Moh
ammed was roaming the halls checking on everyone and saying hello, then going to the playroom for awhile. He is full of both curiosity and concern for the other patients on the children's ward, and we have to keep an eye on him to be sure he stays put! He was happy to know we'd come to take him home, and as soon as the doctor removed the needle from his arm, he made his way to his hospital room, closed the curtain around the bed, and put on his 'street clothes' so he could leave. He was willing to wait patiently while we visited with Akram and Mohammad Hamdan, and checked on the plans for Shadi's surgery. When we were ready to go, he made the rounds saying goodbye to the nurses and doctors, and thanking them. On the way home he got a call from his mother which gave him great pleasure. Shortly after we arrived a TV crew came over to find out about the work going on at Shevet Achim, and Mohammed was not camera shy when asked to participate in the interview.

Please keep praying for God's touch to Mohammed's body. He is such a lively and bright little boy!! Keep his father in your prayers as well; he has not felt well the last two days, and we took him for an examination to find out the problem. He may have a kidney stone, and will have a follow up visit to a doctor tomorrow. Yet he is patiently and thankfully persevering while waiting for the call to say it's Mohammed's turn for surgery. We're thankful to have the chance to wait with them and offer all the encouragement we can.

Complicated, Two-Part Surgery Expected

Posted on Thu, 05/07/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel

Mohammed was not wasting any time in his hospital room waiting for us to come today, but instead was hanging out at the computer in the playroom. When we greeted Hamza and Akram in their shared room, Abu ("father of") Mohammed told us where Mohammed was, but before we could get down the hall, Hamza had let him know we were there. He came in full of smiles and hugs telling us he was ready to go. It was nice to hear that he did not require any medication as he waits for his surgery date to be scheduled.

The doctor on duty told me that Mohammed will need to return on Sunday for a CT scan, and the standard procedure of reading the PPD (tuberculosis) test. After that, we will wait together for the call about Mohammed's turn for surgery. Today the doctors spoke with Abu Mohammed about the complicated heart repair which lies ahead for his son. It will be necessary to do the surgery in two parts which will be planned one year apart. By God's grace, the first operation should be in the coming few weeks. Abu Mohammed seems understandably more relaxed now that he knows this, and is thankful for the possibility for a full life offered to his son.

Mohammed was excited to learn at dinner that his dad would take him to church with us this evening. He enjoyed the music very much, and went with the children's teacher during the service. We have been thanking God for the good report from the doctors after Mohammed's catheterization, and look forward to all the ways God will bless him and his father while they're here with us. Let's pray for miraculous intervention in this complicated case.

Wolfson Accepts Mohammed For Catheterization

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

Mohammed got a birthday surprise this morning when Wolfson Hospital called saying that he was to come down for a catheterization tomorrow. After Schneider Children's Hospital refused Mohammed's case due to its complications and diagnosis of possible worsening with surgery, Mohammed was received for an echocardiogram at Wolfson last week. As the doctors discussed the results for how best to treat Mohammed, his father waited for word about what was his last hope for his son's life. We noted how discouraged and quiet Abu ("father of") Mohammed has been the last couple of days while he waited. Today's news brought a fresh smile to his face.

Mohammed was quiet on the journey to the hospital, but entered with a congenial attitude. He was very interested in watching his friend Hamza have his blood drawn, even peeking through the door hinge when the nurses sent him out while they cared for Hamza. Even though Hamza was very brave and didn't even whimper, when it was Mohammed's turn, the tears came immediately. We had to convince him about every part of the examination that it wouldn't bring pain, until, of course, it was time for the bloodwork to be done. I was concerned that Mohammed would kick and scream, as there have been a number of children who reacted that way. But although Mohammed did cry and yell a little at his father about stopping this test, after the initial needle was stuck in, Mohammed quit crying for a while, and told his father he is not a baby, he is big. However when it was evident that it would require a half-dozen tube-fulls to complete the work-up, Mohammed shed a few more tears until it was done. He seemed to be noting to his father that Hamza had only one tube drawn, and he was subjected to so many more that he couldn't help but cry.

Once the blood test was done, Mohammed needed a chest x-ray. Afterwards he was able to relax and simply find something to do, so he became curious and wanted to roam the halls. Instead, Victor directed him to the playroom where he enjoyed both games and crafts for several hours.

He and Hamza were assigned beds in the room with Akram, which made nice companionship and assistance for the new arrivals.

Let us intercede for the life of Mohammed as he undergoes the catheterization tomorrow which will determine operability for this sweet and lively boy. Perhaps God will reveal a way for surgery to be done which cannot be seen without this procedure; perhaps God will choose to heal Mohammed another way. I'm infinitely grateful to know God loves Mohammed so much, and He knows the plans He has for Mohammed's life. Pray for his gentle father, who must at this hour be confronting many conflicting thoughts of anxiety and hope, and perhaps fear as well. May he know the comforting presence of the Lord as he waits through the night and until he hears from the doctors tomorrow.

Mohammed Celebrates 9th Birthday

Posted on Mon, 05/04/2009 - 01:00 by Justin_Strong
Mohammed celebrated his ninth birthday today with us in Jerusalem. After a pleasant dinner with all the Shevet Achim staff and Hamza, we decided to walk down the street to the local gelato ice cream shop. As we approached, he shouted in English, Ice cream! Once inside his face was nearly pressed against the glass trying to see all the flavors; he decided on a chocolate cone.
By the time everyone was collected to sing Happy Birthday to him, he had nearly consumed his entire ice cream. Mohammed climbed a stool as tall as he was, and all the Shevet staff and our Iraqi guests sang Happy Birthday to him. (Follow this link to watch a short video.)
While we were eating we heard some music playing across the street and noticed several people dancing, so we all decided to go over to see what the commotion was about. It turned out to be a number of Orthodox Jewish men dancing to some Hebrew music, a sight the Iraqis had certainly not seen before. After a few minutes of watching and some encouragement, Mohammed, defying any appearances of a heart difficulty, ran in and began to dance with them. In a few moments' time he took the hands of one of the Jewish men and they began dancing together. (Follow this link for another video clip.)

It is not every day you hear about Israeli Orthodox Jews and Iraqi Muslims dancing together in the streets. But this child, when spinning in circles with this man was not weighed down with any of the thoughts that perhaps enter our minds. Instead, Mohammed took flight in the arms of a supposed enemy and thought to do nothing but smile and laugh.

After all the excitement Mohammeds Dad had to carry his winded son on his shoulders, up the hill to the Shevet center. Happy birthday, Mohammed! one of us called out. Thank you very much, he replied in perfect English, without missing a beat.

Last Hope for Mohammed

Posted on Mon, 04/27/2009 - 01:00 by Justin_Strong

Justin writes:

We brought Mohammed across the Jordan border into Israel yesterday. Mohammed is full of energy, running and playing, singing and yelling, just loving
life; you would never know that his life is hanging in the balance due to his heart problem. The journey from the Shevet house in Jordan to the one in Jerusalem took about 10 hours, but Mohammed and Abu ("father of") Mohammed were very happy and respectful throughout the journey, albeit very tired by the time we arrived in Jerusalem.

Alex adds:

Mohammed and I arrived at the Schneider Children's Hospital today at about 10:30 AM. After the normal check-in procedure we ascended to the sixth floor waiting room. About 20 minutes into the wait I realized I did not even know what type of heart defect Mohammed had. I turned to Abu Mohammed to ask if he knew what was wrong with Mohammed's heart. His father began to make signs with his hand showing large and small holes over his own chest. I was probably the 50th person with whom he had performed this charades routine. Not satisfied I asked for the reports which he happily dug out. One after another he handed me medical reports from Iraq, Iran, and Turkey. Each report contained the phrase "high risk" in it. This risk referred to the possibility of a successful heart operation for Mohammed. Each country had turned down Mohammed for cardiac intervention. His father turned to me and said, "Turkey mish zain (not good), Iran, mish zain (not good), Israel zain (good!)" His father clearly saw Israel as the last hope for Mohammed.

After extensive echocardiograms and discussion among three cardiologists, the head physician turned to me with a heavy heart and explained that it was most likely that Mohammed was inoperable. The pulmonary hypertension that had set in could possibly kill him if any sort of cardiac intervention occurred. Still, they held out a small piece of hope saying that another catheterization could show that his hypertension is not so severe. Even as they said this they shook their heads, re-emphasizing again and again that there was almost no chance of good news from the catheterization.

We have explained to the father the situation and he is pondering what to do next.

Dear friends, we serve a God of miracles who loves to work with only fragments of hope to show that He is the God of hope. Where man cannot see a way through a mountain, we find a loving God moving mountains. Please pray God would turn this shard of a hope into glory for His name with healing for Mohammed.

Waiting With Mohammed

Posted on Wed, 01/07/2009 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel
After learning that an emergency surgery for a Gaza child had taken Mohammed's slot, we found out at the end of May that Mohammed would have to wait through the month of June for his heart surgery because Dr. Sasson, the surgeon, will be out of the country for several weeks. This was disappointing to Mohammed's dad, but I believe Mohammed was relieved since he's (understandably) apprehensive about what's ahead, and has a strong fear of needles. We've tried to help him pass the time here at the house with a few activities, along with visits to the hospital to see his buddy Hamza. In the past few weeks we've been to the park, the zoo, played games and enjoyed meals, along with just hanging out here at the house. Here are a few pictures to give you a glimpse of our time together.

We even used our courtyard as a bowling alley... Follow the link to watch!

During Mohammed and his father's stay here so far, we've seen Mohammed changing from a rather angry little boy to a much sweeter and calmer one. He now generously gives hugs and offers to help with chores around the house. Abu Mohammed has not felt well and will return to the doctor for a follow-up visit tomorrow. Please keep praying for father and son as they spend time with us. Pray that they will know that the love of God is continually extended toward them in this difficult situation.