Osama's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Osama's Farewell Party

Posted on Tue, 02/21/2017 - 21:19 by Joseph Carter

Last night we had Osama’s farewell party, and it was a sweet time of reminiscing on the good times and hard times. God showed Himself clearly through the love that the community has for Osama and his father.

We are rejoicing that Osama is well on his way to recovery and he is already reuniting with his family members back in Kurdistan.

Please pray that their time here will be more than just a sweet memory, but that it will also be a time that changed their lives. 

Even though Osama is only four years old he certainly has enough understanding to know the love that we have for him.

This morning I said goodbye to them as they drove to the airport. While they were leaving, I couldn’t help but hope that one day I will see them again, although I know that whatever happens now is in God's hands.


Green Light

Posted on Mon, 02/20/2017 - 22:01 by Alexa Bigl

Praise God, Osama's echo went how we had hoped and expected today. After a great report last Monday, Osama and father were a bit discouraged they could not go home as soon as the doctors would have allowed due to the flights being full. So instead of a final echo on Thursday, the final echo was today since their flights are tomorrow morning. 

Osama ran around us all the way up to the echo department and excitedly bounced around during his very short waiting time. Just a couple minutes after our arrival, Osama was in the echo exam room and up on the exam table. He excitedly clapped our hands and made up stories about the pictures on the walls as the technician pushed the wand around the see all the intricacies of Osama's heart. 
Dr. Tamir came in for a final look before giving us the green light that it really was Osama's final echo. And in no time Osama and dad were heading out to say goodbye to the friends they had made at Wolfson. Stay tuned for a farewell blog about tonight's big party later this week, and thank you for praying with us for Osama during this journey to a healed heart! 

Almost Done!

Posted on Mon, 02/13/2017 - 23:39 by Joseph Carter

Osama went to the hospital today for what we hoped would be his last echo. The news from the doctor was good! However, they would like him to return one final time on Thursday to receive another echo. He was allowed to discontinue one of his medications and by all reports is doing very well. Hopefully him and his father will be allowed to return home to Kurdistan on Thursday.

A close proximity to young children allows you to see their attitudes and personalities. While I’ve been around Osama I’ve noticed that he is truly a sweet kid who loves to have fun, and while yes, he does have his moments, he is usually very pleasant to be around. Please pray for Osama and his father as they prepare to return home.

Good News

Posted on Mon, 02/06/2017 - 22:57 by Joseph Carter

This morning we loaded up the van and headed to the hospital because Osama was due for another echo. I dropped the families off at the entrance and went in search of a parking spot. By the time Ruth and I made it back to the hospital, Osama was already laying on his back in the midst of the echo process. He was happily watching “Horton Hears a Who” on the tv. Sitting next to him, his dad affectionately watched Osama and kept an eye on the doctors who were working.

I met Osama and his father 3 days ago, and it has already filled me with joy to see the relationship that they have between them. It is incredible to see the love and affection that pours out of his dad’s face while his son is playing, eating, doing nothing, or having procedures done. They will often take long walks together and I can only imagine the kind of adventures they have together.

While we were waiting for his results in the lobby, Osama decided that he wanted to stack all of the small, colored chairs and sit on the top. It didn’t take long for him to start puffing up his chest and acting all regal on top of his “throne.” The wait for his results was very short, and on this day, it was good news. He is healthy and doing great! Praise the LORD who proves to us his faithfulness even through simple times and short hospital visits.

Breaking Through

Posted on Tue, 01/31/2017 - 06:43 by Sean Perez
Today I visited Osama in eager anticpation of obtaining a good report from the doctors because I knew that today he could potentially be discharged. So Osama, his father, and I marched from the ward to the echo department with all three of us holding hands together, like we were one big happy family. I'll tell you, the best part about serving at Shevet Achim, is that there is this unashamed love that develops, that is just built through our fellowship with one another (which is only coming out in public, because it is genuinely being built in our hearts at home). It was as if we were proud to be brothers and we wanted everyone in the hall that we passed by to know that we were family and completely knitted together as one. As strangers passed by smiling and making kind remarks towards us (although I am sure it was because of how cute Osama is), we were convinced that everyone was going to know that we really loved each other. The most mysterious part about these relationships that form, is that we were just strangers only 2.5 weeks ago. That is the power of love. It breaks through barriers and brings people together. 
I once heard somebody say that when we meet God, He isn't going to ask us about our ministry or the money we made, but the one thing He is going to be concerned with, is "did you learn to love?"  So with this motivation in mind we reached the echo department and when we arrived we sat with all the children and Osama played Uno with them all as he waited his turn. After about 20 minutes, we went in and there was the ultrasound tech and Dr. Alona greeting us with big smiles, saying "alright, let's do this last echo and send Osama home, if all goes well."  
So, there we were: two Jewish ladies, two Muslims, and one Christian man doing life together, all of us invested in the life of this little boy. It reminded me of Yeshua's words in John 13:34,  "I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another."
After acknowledging that this was a special moment, an even more special moment came forth as Dr. Alona whispered to Osama, "you are all ready to go home." This brought a huge smile to dad's face and we joyfully sprinted right out of the department the same way we entered in, only with Yaser, Sonya and their parents right by our sides as well.
Even though Osama was discharged back to our community today, I would like to ask everyone to please continue to pray for him. He is normally a very energetic and passionate young man and even though he's home with us now, I can't help but notice that he is still a little slower physically and perhaps a little tender in some areas.  Please pray that God would continue breaking through with healing in His wings and also a completely healthy recovery, so that his dad and his family would be blessed in knowing that it is completely well with their son's soul.  

Transfer to the Ward

Posted on Sun, 01/29/2017 - 22:41 by Suhail Dabbagh

Osama is doing very well, now in the children's ward! He seems to be happy, but isn't fully back to himself as he continues to adjust after the shock of surgery. He was playing in the play room in the children's ward with the staff there today, enjoying himself greatly. He enjoyed the sun for a time, also, as he played outside.  

His father was prepared to leave today, but the doctors and nurses said Osama was not quite ready. His father is very happy for his son and the successful surgery. Both father and son want to go to Jerusalem again as soon as possible. They want to be with me all the time, which is very sweet. We are looking forward to seeing more of the city and spending time together in the near future. 

Looking Good

Posted on Thu, 01/26/2017 - 20:37 by Eva Markewitz
As I came into the ICU, I first didn't find Osama's bed. I assumed he was transfered to the secondary ICU, but then the nurse told me that he is just in the little extra room on the left side of the ICU. Lucky one! I found Osama sitting on the chair and watching videos on the tablet.
He already looked very good, and that's just two days after surgery! Anyway, because of the tubes he wasn't allowed to eat, the nurse told me. Otherwise he would throw up. His last meal was three days ago and this poor little guy was so hungry, he told his dad every few seconds.
But after the visit of the doctors they fortunately brought some lunch for Osama and told us, that he can eat now. Osama's eyes lit up seeing the food and I had the privilege to feed him, as his dad went to get some lunch for himself.
Osama was very quiet and sleepy, which is understandable, so I just spend time with him sitting next to his bed holding his hand or playing with him with his little car. Also, it was fun to talk to Osama's Dad, who is a lively person indeed. For the most part we used google translater and it worked out well. It was touching to see how he cared for his beloved son and tried to make him feel as comfortable as possible.

Tomorrow, they will take out the chest tube and hopefully transfer him to the secondary ICU. I thank the Lord for all the good work he has already done in Osama's and his dad's life! Please keep them in your prayers.

Recovering and Peach Juice, Please!

Posted on Thu, 01/26/2017 - 04:03 by Mikkel Thuesen

Osama is a brave little boy - like a lion, his father says. And he also really likes peach juice.Today is the first day after his operation and Osama is exhausted. The operation went just fine, but Osama is still on medicine and he is tired. When we arrived to the hospital Osama was asleep, but while we looked at him he slowly woke up. He turned to us with narrow and tired eyes but still with a little smile on his lips. He reached out his hand and raised his thumb as telling us “I’m okay”.

His father was outside trying to catch some fresh air. He hasn’t slept all night, as he would stay ready to get to his son right away if needed. So we went outside to find him. As father as son he also met us with open arms and a heartwarming smile.

Together we went back in to Osama finding him still awake. Because of the medicine he still isn’t able to eat, but thirsty he is indeed. So Osama's father would go back and forth to buy peach juice at the soda machine.

And as it goes when you drink a lot of liquid some of it has to come out again. In this case the nurses have given Osama a diaper so he doesn’t have to move from his bed. But, Osama did not want to pee in a diaper; he wanted to go to the bathroom, just as he always does in these situations. The nurses told him kindly, that he couldn’t, he still has to stay in his bed. Then Osama asked his father if he could ask the nurses for a bucket. That helped.

Afterwards Osama slowly fell back into sleep. His father was all the time right next to his son, holding his hand and was aware of his sons needs. Thankful as he was, Osama's father called back home to the family in Kurdistan to share the good news about Osama's successful operation. They responded with humble gratitude.

Praise God that Osama made it well through the surgery and that even on the first day after the operation he keeps his lovely smile in both eyes and on his lips. We thank you that you will join us in praying for Osama that he will keep recovering and for his wellbeing. 

Tears of Joy and Thanksgiving

Posted on Tue, 01/24/2017 - 21:41 by Sean Perez

It was a quite a long day that Coert and I spent with Osama and his father at the hospital. His procedure was initially scheduled for 8:00 am, but there were a few delays that prolonged the start time of his surgery to 2:00 pm. Nonetheless, we had a great time and Osama was quite a hit with all the employees and volunteers, where we spent most our time waiting and playing in the playground.

We ended up playing bowling together with a ball and some pins that the employees from the play room invented. They enjoyed being around him so much that they asked if they could watch him most of the afternoon, before his procedure began!

So, that left Coert and I to spend some quality time with his father, which we actually really enjoyed, while we started bonding deeper together. Osama's father has a great personality and is quite funny, so we were all laughing and enjoying each others company, as there wasn't a moment that went by where we weren't entertained.

Finally when 2:00 came around, we all accompanied Osama to the O.R. It was certainly a little emotional for all of us, especially when we saw dad playing like a child, and inspirationally relating to his son in the waiting room.

I remember taking a photo of Osama playing doctor with one of the student doctor's in the play room earlier in the afternoon. He was dressed like a little doctor in a stethoscope and to see that the doctor's took care of Osama as well as he treated them, was such a blessing! So much so, that right after Osama was wheeled down from his procedure, there his father, Coert, and I just embraced one another as tears of joy and thanksgiving rolled across his father's countenance.

Osama and his father are a terrific team and it was such a pleasure to see them reunited in the ICU after Osama's surgery was successful.


Thank you, Lord, for such a beautiful surgery day! It was filled with love and support from beginning to end. We look forward to God's continued blessing in the life of Osama as he recovers. 

Exploring Jerusalem

Posted on Sun, 01/22/2017 - 21:42 by Coert van der Veen

Last week Osama and his father moved from Jaffa to our Jerusalem community. It is so good to have them here with us. From the first moment Osama started playing with his new toys and arranging stuffed animals above his bed. While playing with his cars and lego bricks in our bedroom, I often hear him softly singing. We are thankfull that this move over here is working out so well.

Both Osama and his dad have become close members of our Jerusalem community. Osama’s dad is a great help with everything that needs to be done when living together.  He’s always first to offer to wash the dishes and clean the kitchen! He seems happy to be able to be helpful while staying here with us.

Almost daily the two men get out to visit Jerusalem. They just love the things going around in the big city and seeing all the historical places.

Osama especially loves the candy shops and the guys selling plastic cars everywhere on the streets. And it seems he also made friends with the police in the old city!

Just before the Shabbat we received the news that Osama’s surgery is scheduled for Tuesday. So we expect he will be admitted at Wolfson hospital on Monday. That’s tomorrow already! This morning we prayed during our time of worship for peace in their hearts and for Osama’s heart to be healed. But also for his father that he will have a changed heart. We are thanking the Lord for the opportunities to not only talk to Osama’s father about the gospel but also showing the gospel in sharing love and compassion towards them. Please lift them up in your prayers, too!