Niyaz's Heart Surgery


Unexpected Visitors

Posted on Wed, 10/29/2014 - 20:27 by Sophie

Two weeks ago, Sophie, Ruth, Kristina, and Jonathan had the opportunity to visit Kurdistan, northern Iraq. We had plans, but God had better plans. We had not planned to see Niyaz and her family, but God put everything together to allow it to happen. On the way back from Hazhar's house, we started talking about Niyaz. Dawod's father (who was our taxi driver), knew Niyaz's family and knew where they lived. So as we talked about it, we decided we wanted to see them because they lived on the way to where we were going. When Jonathan asked whether we should call Niyaz's mother before we went to her house, Dawod's father said that we should just go and surprise them.

When we arrived at their house and knocked on the door, my heart was beating so fast because I could not wait to see how Niyaz's mother would react when she saw us. When she opened the door, she was so shocked and shouted out our names. She immediately invited us into her home. Before, they lived in a tent in a refugee camp. However, now they have a small apartment that they share with her sister's family because her husband got a job, winter is coming soon, and she will be delivering a baby next month.

In the beginning, Niyaz was sleeping, and we had some time to talk with her mother.

It was a very sweet time as we talked and tried to shoo the flies away from Niyaz as she slept. After a little while, Niyaz awoke, and I think she was afraid at first because there were so many people around her, and she started crying. But when we brought her to her mother, she calmed down and maybe even began to remember us. Niyaz looked very healthy, and we were happy to see all of them.

We were only able to stay for a very short time, but before we left, we were able to pray with their family. We especially prayed that when Niyaz's mother delivers her third child next month in the refugee clinic everything would go well. We would be grateful if you would join us in continuing to pray for Niyaz's family that their situation would improve and that God would continue working in their lives through other people. 

The Beauty of Renewed Life

Posted on Mon, 07/21/2014 - 21:27 by Jesse Tilman

Niyaz had been with us for only a few months before she had to return home. During her time here, she had been filmed and interviewed and had shaken hands with an Israeli mayor. She had gone through the ups and downs of an open-heart surgery in a foreign land. She had found recovery in the midst of the busy community at Shevet Achim. My strongest memories of her and her mother start with us traveling together from Kurdistan into Jordan and then on to Israel. My memories continue with us weathering through the storms of life-and-death surgery and finish with memories of the times of rest and fun that we carved out from it all.

In Kurdistan, I met with them at the Kurdistan Save the Children building in Sulymania where we received their medical documents and travel papers. They said goodbye to family and committed their trust to me as I began to guide them through the airport processes. We were early to the airport and had some extra time for last minute thoughts, goodbyes, and worries as this mother and daughter took their first steps toward heart surgery in Israel. Traveling in company with another mother and daughter who were also coming helped, as they were able to discus issues together as well.

Arriving in Jordan, we slept over with Jonathan’s family. From there, we headed on with Jonathan toward the Israeli border. Because they are Syrian refugees, Niyaz and her mother’s documents took a bit more working over, but, eventually, we were able to press through to Jerusalem where we found a warm welcome from the Shevet Achim team at the main building.

The days of medical work in Israel included many regular echocardiograms and much sitting down for meals on the grass outside the hospital where we could watch the trees slowly flowering and raining down yellow petals. There, Niyaz learned to feed the stray cats that came begging. There, she had fun pushing her own stroller. There, at Wolfson hospital, we endured the blood tests together as well. Tears and blood would stain the hospital sheets together. There we also met and befriended other children and their parents from around the world. In the Ward are visitors from Africa, Europe, around the Middle East, and elsewhere.

Surgery day came, and everyone was anxious. There was a hurried parting as the hospital staff wheeled away Niyaz in her bed and then hours of thoughtful separation, as we trusted everything was going okay. Then there was a burst of excitement as Niyaz was brought out of surgery and into the ICU room. At which point, we again had to wait until she was stabilized. Soon enough, we were able to enter and watch as Niyaz laboriously breathed under intubation. The next few days, as she recovered, were trying times. Step by step, she came to full consciousness and had her medications lowered. Then she could move out to intermediate ICU. Then a day later, she moved out to the regular children’s ward. Finally, after more days, she was cleared to leave the hospital, thereafter only to return for check-ups and tests.

Outings to the park, going for walks, or just going to the corner store for ice-cream proved to be enjoyable ways to pass the time as Niyaz continued to heal. Niyaz has a joy of life that is endearing, and her giggles are a bright spot in any day. Her mother has a graceful trusting spirit that lends itself to good experiences, whether those experiences are media interviews or evening discussions as the children play on the balcony. We thank God for the time Niyaz had here and pray that her future life in Kurdistan will be full. May she find the beauty that she brought to our community in each day of her renewed life.

Ambassador for Peace

Posted on Thu, 07/17/2014 - 20:13 by Ruth Zellweger

Today, Niyaz and her mother were asked to come to Wolfson Hospital one more time. One of the television teams that had followed her surgery wanted to also film her discharge and interview her mother one last time. When Sophie arrived at the hospital with Niyaz and Brievan, who had also come for her final echo, we headed to the echo department where we were soon joined by the reporters. Also, the mayor of Holon, where Wolfson Hospital is located, came to meet with the doctors and the patients who are treated from all over the world. He followed us into the examination room, where Dr. Alona performed Niyaz's final echo.

Niyaz was finally discharged with the good news that the function of her heart had even improved over the last three days. Niyaz's mother was then interviewed by the reporters, and after we had visited with Rozheen and her mother, we went back to Jerusalem. And this evening, we will celebrate Niyaz's healed heart. Rejoice with us and her mother over what God has done in Niyaz's life.

A Day Well Spent

Posted on Mon, 07/14/2014 - 22:33 by Kirsten Perow

Sometimes days can pass so quickly that you barely have time to reflect and appreciate them. I find that, more often than not, I think back on my day and wonder if I used my day well. Did I slow down to notice some beautiful, God-given sight? In the speed of the day, did I take the time to be grateful, to thank Him for His goodness and love?

Today was a day God’s goodness could not go unnoticed, in my opinion. Lovely little Niyaz had her final echo this afternoon, and the news was nothing but good. After one more quick trip to the hospital this week, Niyaz and her mother will finally be traveling back to their loved ones.

To celebrate the joyous news of both Niyaz and Brievan having wonderfully healing hearts, Ruth and I took the families for a brief beach excursion. It was the first time for both families (and myself) to experience one of Israel’s stunning beaches. I cannot adequately describe how beautiful it all was—the billowing clouds, the turquoise waves, the toasty sand, and best of all, the happiness that radiated out of Niyaz.

She constantly giggled as she wiggled her toes in the sand, and she was not shy about her desire for the waves to drench her completely.

After sand and water permeated every bit of her, we decided, much to the dismay of Niyaz, to head home. I am so thankful we have a Creator who delights in us and in our joys. Thank you for praying for Niyaz and her mother, and feel free to share in the joy of God’s healing!

One Step Closer to Returning Home

Posted on Thu, 07/10/2014 - 20:47 by Ruth Zellweger

After another week of recovering on Prophets Street in Jerusalem, Leanne and I took Niyaz, alongside Brievan and Rozheen, for another echocardiogram at Wolfson Hospital. Her mother is longing to return to Kurdistan to be with her family and hopes that it will be very soon. It was not Niyaz's final echo today though, mainly because of the medication changes last week. Niyaz cried very hard while the echo was performed and could not be calmed down.

When Dr. Alona afterwards evaluated the pictures from the echo, she scheduled the final echo for the following Monday. However, to be sure that Niyaz's heart has healed, she will need to sleep during that final echo, so that the cardiologists are able to examine her heart without interruptions. Even though it was not their last trip to the hospital today, Niyaz's mother was encouraged by the thought that the end of their time in Israel is in sight. We are starting now to prepare the papers for their departure. Please give thanks with us for Niyaz's healing heart and ask with us that there will not be any complications regarding their return to Kurdistan.

From Tears to Joy

Posted on Thu, 07/03/2014 - 20:23 by Leanne Rogerson

Niyaz had her second echocardiogram this morning. The echo went well and she mostly behaved. She was still not a big fan of the cold gel used for the ultrasound, and she was happy to let the sonographer know. Not even the distraction of her mom sitting beside her, or the Image of Dora on the TV screen could settle her.

After a few pictures and measurements of the blood flow through the heart she was done, she was soon back to her happy self. It was not long before she was off exploring the little cubby house down the hallway. The doctor made a slight change to her medication plan, adding one extra medication. Niyaz will have another echo in about a week to see if this new medication has made a difference. Please pray for her healing to continue.

A Promising Echo

Posted on Thu, 06/26/2014 - 19:04 by Ruth Zellweger

Today, we took Niyaz for her first follow-up echocardiogram at Wolfson Hospital since her discharge this past Sunday. Niyaz cried in between the echo several times, but was fine as soon as it was finished.

The results were very encouraging and promising. The cardiologists are pleased with her healing progress and want to see her again in the following week. 

And the week after could already be her final week in Israel. We praise God for her smooth recovery. 

Niyaz Back on Prophets Street

Posted on Sun, 06/22/2014 - 20:38 by Ruth Zellweger

Only one week after her open heart surgery, we welcomed little Niyaz and her mother back at our house in Jerusalem. Niyaz's recovery is very smooth and the doctors felt comfortable to discharge her from the hospital. On Thursday this week they want to see her for a follow-up echocardiogram of her heart. As soon as the doctors had made it official that Niyaz would leave the hospital today, her mother exchanged the hospital payamas for a beautiful dress. And then both of them posed for some pictures in the playground area of the children's ward.

Niyaz's mother was very relieved that they could leave the hospital. After our arrival in Jerusalem she went to the supermarket close to our house, where she bought a box of chocolate which she happily shared with everyone. We praise God for what He has done in Niyaz's life; may she some day come to understand that only by His grace and mercy does she have a healed heart!

Breath of Fresh Air

Posted on Thu, 06/19/2014 - 22:51 by Jesse Tilman

Seeing Niyaz was like a breath of fresh air. I first saw her across the hall from the nurses’ station in the ward as she sat up in bed and smiled at me when I waved. Yes, she has moved out of secondary ICU and is on the regular ward! Later on they went outside to the playground with the two Kurdish families who came and the two that were at the hospital.

They chatted for a while as Kirsten received the medications for our house children. The hospital staff said that she is doing well and on the road to healthiness. Later, we joined them outside and sat down to enjoy a late lunch. With chicken, schnitzel, rice, tomatoes, cucumbers, and bread, we feasted. I’m glad that Niyaz’s mother had another mum in the hospital to keep each other company. Niyaz demonstrated how quickly she was recovering my pushing her own stroller!

Finally, when we said goodbye, she gave us another adorable chubby baby-arm wave!

Step by Step

Posted on Tue, 06/17/2014 - 20:10 by Liliane Gasser

At Wolfon hospital today, it was really joyful to meet little Niyaz after she had her operation on Monday. I wondered how my time with her would be. When we arrived, it was so nice to see how her mother seated Niyaz for a little meal. And contrary to what I expected, Niyaz opened her mouth as if she was very hungry.

At one point, her mother expressed the wish to make a phone call and stepped out of the secondary ICU (where Niyaz was transferred to today). While her mother was out, I was able to feed Niyaz, and this was such a lovely moment of returning back to normality. Niyaz was not shy at all and ate like a little bird.

When we left, we could leave Niyaz with a content mother, since the doctor let us know that Niyaz is healing well. I have such a deep feeling of thankfulness to our God in my heart tonight and a hope that, before I leave Shevet for Switzerland, I will get to see this charming girl return to our Shevet home again.