Radhwan's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

God of Wonders

Posted on Sun, 09/20/2015 - 22:47 by Konrad Wiedmer

This afternoon, I received a message from Sarah, asking me if I would be interested in writing Radhwan’s farewell blog. The first thing I would like to say is that it's an honor to write about this inspiring little boy. He inspired not only me, but also others at Shevet. There are so many things that made the time we all had with this mother and son special!

Radhwan's story isn't one which can be told within a few sentences, as it was a long and difficult journey for him and his mother. I had the privilege of meeting Radhwan for the first time at his home in Kurdistan, northern Iraq, in May of this year. We were welcomed with open hearts, and it was scary how low Radhwan's oxygen level was at this time. His skin color was really blue, and he was crying a lot. But already there I could see the beautiful mother-son relationship, as well as the father-son relationship.

The plan for Radhwan and his mother was to fly into Israel via Turkey. Never before had a family come to Shevet Achim in Jerusalem via Turkey, so we were praying that the Lord would open doors to enable them to come to Israel as soon as possible. Thankfully, they arrived safely in Israel!

When we came back from Kurdistan, I was able to see Radhwan and his mother in our house at Prophets Street, which made my heart so happy. I already knew them, so I could totally picture were Radhwan came from and who he misses. During the first weeks, Radhwan needed to adjust in his new environment. But day after day, he got used to the other children, as well as to the volunteers, which was wonderful to witness.

It was not easy for Radhwan's mother to wait, as many other children received their surgery and her son had to wait for the right time. But she showed an amazing level of patience, and I was often touched by the way she was interacting with her son and was caring for him.

God definitely used this long time of waiting in many ways. Radhwan's mother blessed us with her excellent cooking skills, and we were able to spend time with Radhwan in the house. Also, the bond between mother and son was able to grow more and more, and when it was the right time, Radhwan was called in for surgery.

After the surgery, there were a lot of complications that Radhwan and the doctors had to fight through together. For a long time, sweet Radhwan had a fever, low oxygen levels, and fluid around his heart and lungs. But God didn’t leave him alone; he cared for him and brought him through all the difficulties. In this picture you can see how peacefully and beautifully Radhwan looked while sleeping in the Intensive Care Unit at Wolfson Medical Center:

Before Radhwan was allowed to leave the hospital in Tel Aviv for the last time, he also had to undergo a catheterization, and we praise God that the doctors could correct what needed to be done. What a story!

God was with Radhwan every single second and changed so many things! I am touched thinking about him and his time in Israel. For example, just how he was interacting with us in the hospital:

It was so beautiful to see how he got used to saying my nickname, Koko, every time he saw me. Radhwan is full of energy and laughter, and when I think about him, I am reminded how I miss him and miss being at Shevet with all the families.

I have realized that Shevet Achim does not end by my not being there anymore. Writing this blog from Germany means so much to me, and it definitely shows that the relationships we make with these precious families in Israel are forever in our hearts. All the children coming and receiving treatment are so wonderfully made by our Creator.

Please join us in prayer for travel mercies on Radhwan and his mother, as they have to go through a long layover at the airport in Istanbul right now. May God keep them safe and give them a wonderful reunion when they see their family again after waiting more than 3 ½ months.

The Lord is good, and he has done great things in Radhwan's life. To him be all the glory!

Finally, Radhwan

Posted on Thu, 09/17/2015 - 22:03 by Line Breinholt

Today little Radhwan, Yad and their mothers went to the hospital. Radhwan had his last echo and everything looked really good, which means that he is done. Radhwan and his mother can now go back home to Kurdistan. When Radhwan turns about 10 years old he will, most likely, have another operation.  This is typically a case with the heart defect Radhwan has, Transposition of the Great Arteries. With the good news we waited for his discharge papers and the final medication prescriptions. It was a long day at the hospital, but Radhwan was patient and we spent the waiting time at the playground.    

Everyone at Shevet Achim is very happy with the results and we thank God for His help in all that Radhwan and his mother have been through. We are also praying for the Lord to open doors as we look at the best and quickest way to send them home.

Proper Time

Posted on Thu, 09/10/2015 - 20:46 by Sophie H.

It was time for both Radhwan and Yad to have echos today, so we took them to the hospital. During the long time waiting, Radhwan entertained himself various ways.

I was so happy that Yad shared his iPad with me! We were playing games together.

I was a good photographer. I was taking photos of my mother.

Then it was my turn for an echo. I was not so happy to be put on the bed for a check-up, but the amazing doctor made things much easier.

Just a short time later, the echo was done. They told us that Radhwan's echo went very well and that next Thursday should be his last echo. Radwan's mother was very happy to hear that, and her heart's desire is to be home as soon as possible. On the way back, she asked me why Radhwan cannot have his final echo on Monday. I told her that it will be the Jewish new year, a holiday. The doctors have a day off!

The Lord bless you and keep you; The LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; The LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26

Radhwan's Catheterization

Posted on Wed, 09/09/2015 - 21:00 by Maureen Grimshaw

Today, Radhwan was taken down to the Catheterization Department with his mother at 7 a.m. in preparation for his procedure, which lasted from 8:30 to 12 noon. The doctors were able to successfully close the Ventricular Septal Defect (hole between his ventricles) without complications.  

After a few nervous hours in the waiting area outside, Radhwan's mother was jubilant to see Radhwan finally being wheeled out, fully conscious, on the way to recovery. With smiles and hugs for him and mum, we all returned to the ward.

Soon he was crying for water, as you see in the photograph. He was very thirsty. 

We hope for a restful, peaceful night for both of them and wait for the echocardiogram tomorrow, which will show a profile of the work done since he arrived in Shevet three months ago. 

Again, we praise God for these outcomes from his long stay at Shevet and continue to pray for the Lord to bless and keep Radhwan safe and well.  

Radhwan Admitted for Catheterization

Posted on Tue, 09/08/2015 - 21:21 by Maureen Grimshaw

After several weeks since Radhwan's initial sugery, he is showing signs of significant improvement. He was admitted to the hospital today and will hopefully have a follow-up cardiac catheterization tomorrow.

Oh, It's My Turn!

Posted on Mon, 08/31/2015 - 22:53 by Rebekah Yang
Little cute Radhwan has a very strong personality. He likes to play hide-and-seek while he waits for his echocardiogram.
Today, however, he discovered a new game with the other kids. He was sitting inside a plastic house with Barin and Yad as he was pretending to be either the guest or host. He was quite busy arranging all of the small plastic chairs. 
A few minutes later, Dr. Alona called Radhwan’s name to go into the echo-room. The echo result again confirmed that Radhwan will need a catheterization to complete his healing due to a residual hole which needs to be closed from his pervious heart surgery. Also, his left pulmonary artery with needs dilating as well.
Dr. Alona stopped one medicine and decreased dosage of another. In the meantime, she told us, next Tuesday Radhwan will need to be hospitalized for Wednesday’s catheterization.
Thank God for this news coming today; Radhwan's mother was very happy to hear it after waiting for so long already. Please continue to pray for Radhwan’s coming catheterization next Wednesday.

Wave after Wave

Posted on Mon, 08/24/2015 - 21:57 by Kees-Jan Koster

Today we went to the hospital with Radhwan for another echo. For Radhwan, this was just one of the many times he’s gone this way. For me, it was my first time driving one of Shevet’s vans to the hospital. Thankfully, we arrived in time without any trouble. We arrived at the hospital a little bit after nine o’clock and started waiting. Radhwan didn’t seem to mind at all, there were balloons to play with and simple things like curtains which provided great hideouts to play hide and seek. Playing together with Yad and Barin, the three of them had lots of fun! Radhwan is such a happy boy, sharing his crisps with everyone. He made me his friend straightaway.

After a little over two hours waiting, it was Radhwan’s turn for the echo. Of course, at first, he didn’t like to lie still for the echo, but soon he calmed down and Dr. Tamir was able to confirm what he diagnosed last week. Radhwan will need a catheterization to complete his healing. A residual hole from his larger prior VSD hole has to be closed and his left pulmonary artery with a stent needs dilating. No surprise for Radhwan’s mother and she was quite relaxed with today’s results. Now we have to wait until a catheterization can be scheduled for Radhwan. At the moment, three of our children are waiting for catheterizations.

After the echos, we had lunch in the play area where Radhwan and the other children had fun again. Radhwan especially liked climbing on the slide and sliding down again, even more when Yad joined him. After lunch, we drove to the nearby beach to see the sea, along with Yousif and Baran’s mothers. It was wonderful to see how much they enjoyed looking at the sea, walking on the beach and standing in the waves! For some of them it was their first time at the beach.

Unfortunately, Radhwan doesn’t like water and the sea and the waves made him a bit scared. So at first we played a little bit on the beach throwing stones and shells in the sea. But soon he joined his mother standing in the waves. After much fun and joy, and with a van full of wet and sandy mothers and children, we drove back to Jerusalem.

Radhwan Fighting Through

Posted on Mon, 08/17/2015 - 20:42 by Jesse Tilman

Getting to the hospital with our dear, strong-willed, Radhwan we were excited to see the results of his echo this week. He's doing well and is active in getting around by himself quickly, so I was hoping for a good showing. His mother handles him roughly and he has learned to respond in kind when facing unpleasant nurses or doctors wanting to perform tests or medical procedures. He's become known in the hospital as the baby that hasn't stopped screaming since he came whenever they hold him for the smallest work. Today, he had a good time playing in the echo department for a while with friends before going in for his turn.

True to form, he fought through the echo. Dr. Tamir has some experience with such work and was able to make a thorough examination still. He explained to us that Radhwan will need a catheterization to complete his healing. It will focus on closing a residual hole from his larger prior VSD hole and then dilating his left pulmonary artery where a stent is now. Also, they didn't find excessive amounts of chest fluid and his lung is functioning well.

Afterward, we hooked up with his friend Ahmed in the children's ward and they watched some cartoons together. Radhwan kept us busy chasing him around the hall later as he enjoyed some walking and near running! Thank God for his good health!

Radhwan's Echo Day

Posted on Mon, 08/10/2015 - 22:37 by Rebekah Yang

It's already been one week since our little adorable Radhwan came back to our Shevet community. He’s doing pretty well at the moment. Today was his big day to return to Wolfson for a follow-up echo after heart surgery.

Poor Radhwan was so scared at his echo examination, shouting and crying for the whole entire echo.

However despite his fighting and battling with us, eventually the cardiology doctor was able to finish the echo with him. Praise the Lord!! Radhwan’s echo shows both his heart and lungs are healing well; however, inside of his abdomen there is some unknown cause of fluid which will require close observation. So far he is keeping the same medicine and will wait for the coming Monday's echo to see how his recovery is progressing.

Please continue to pray for Radhwan and his mother. After his mother heard this echo result, she became very worried. May God strengthen her and remove all of her fear and anxiety.   

A Happy Update

Posted on Sun, 08/02/2015 - 21:39 by Anna Ivanova

Little Radhwan greeted us with a big smile when we met him today in the children’s ward. He looks a lot stronger today, and it’s as if the change of color in his body has made him look more mature. After a while, we received very important and exciting news: Radhwan’s echo went very well. There was no excess fluid around his lungs anymore, and his fever is now below any critical point. We thought he would need a catheterization this week, but by God’s grace Radhwan only needs to come in for an echo next week. Since this is the case, he was safely discharged and returned back home to Jerusalem with us! We are so thankful to the Lord for His great provision in this little boy’s life. Please pray for him as he goes through a week of rest and healing.