Rawa's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Sending Rawa Off With Prayer and Blessing

Posted on Fri, 02/25/2011 - 06:50 by Jonathan Miles

This morning it was time for Rawa and his mother to head off from Jerusalem by land for Jordan, and a flight home in the evening from the Amman airport. The whole Shevet community gathered in the courtyard to send them off with prayer and blessing led by our coworker Gadi. Rawa's joy was contagious and our staff, both old and new, joined in the happiness of the occasion.

As we set off the road to Jordan was ablaze with blossoming almond trees, seeming to celebrate this new season beginning in Rawa's life:

By the time we said our last farewell at the Amman airport it was nearly midnight, but Rawa's smile and excitement to be going home had not faded.

A Special Farewell for a Special Boy

Posted on Thu, 02/24/2011 - 06:50 by Donna_Petrel

Tonight we had a special farewell party for this special boy. Rawa was excited all day about his party, and it was a joy to see his great enthusiasm throughout the evening. He asked during the day if we could sing one of his favorite songs Kurdish songs to God, so that he could sing along with us, which he did (click the play arrow below to have a listen).

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Next each of us shared what we love about him, and he responded with a mature sincerity, telling us over and over that he loves all of us and we are like brothers and sisters to him. On his face as he spoke was a look of perceptive awareness of his feelings and ours, which we've noted during his stay with us. He's such a creative and sensitive child, very bright, with a good sense of humor, and a beautiful heart towards God, and as we told him these things, he was drinking them in.

Like all nine-year-olds, he was excited to open his gifts, laughing with pleasure when he unwrapped a Spiderman coloring book, and especially when he received a deck of beloved Uno cards.

We will truly miss this loving and happy boy, and hope that we can accept the invitation to visit his home on our next trip to Kurdistan. Meanwhile, as we shared with Rawa tonight, we will continue to keep him in our hearts. We all agree that he has a good future designed for his life by God's loving plan, and we thank God for this as we send Rawa and his mother on their way.

Rawa Grins at His Last Echo in Israel

Posted on Mon, 02/21/2011 - 06:50 by Michelle_Bradburn

Rawa received encouraging news today! After his echo was complete, Dr. Alona happily announced that his heart is good, and he's able to go home now. Rawa's eyes shone when he heard this, and he and his mother just smiled with quiet thankfulness. He grinned over at me from the bed where they were finishing up the echo, and smiling back I looked up and said, "spas bo xua!", which means "thanks to God" in Kurdish.

And I am so thankful! I'm thankful for the beautiful work that God has done and is continuing to do in Rawa's life, and I pray that each day the love and grace that has brought such healing would find its way deeper into his heart. I also pray that these remaining days would be overflowing with encouragement for this precious boy, days full of love and shining with the hope that God has for him.

A Trip to the Sea Restores the Soul

Posted on Mon, 02/14/2011 - 06:50 by Donna_West

Today was the best of times and the worst of times. Rawa's echo was excellent but there is still another one scheduled for next week, much to his disappointment. As a person searches for comfort wherever they can find it, Rawa seemed to decide a foil helium inflated balloon would make the wait a little easier. When his mother was not in agreement with that solution for comfort, we saw the worst of times. Although small in stature, his tantrum was not to be out done by any I have ever seen. When he was convinced that neither his mother nor I was too moved by the display, we left the hospital in search of the sea.

When we reached the sea, Rawa was still pouting but the best of times took over once again and he could not contain his excitement as you will see in the video below.

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We expect this will be Rawa's last week here in Jerusalem and we hope he will enjoy it and take many wonderful memories home with him when he returns to his family. Thank you for all your prayers for this small and special boy.

Happy With His Hands

Posted on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 06:50 by Donna_West

The best news of the day for Rawa was there will be no surgery (for now) to remove one finger from each hand. He proudly presented his twelve fingers to the Save a Child's Heart photographer this morning for a picture. She said he didn't even seem like the same boy she saw three weeks ago - and he is not. The talk and plans for a hand surgery he profoundly did not want had kept Rawa in a state of fear, sadness and helplessness. Every time it was discussed he cried.

Today Rawa was full of confidence and joy. With full awareness that we are more than just flesh and blood, Rawa's feelings were considered and the family has now decided to postpone the removal of his extra fingers. There is a time for all things. We are so grateful to the medical staff at Wolfson Hospital for their care and compassion for Rawa and their willingness to perform this surgery while he is in Israel, but for Rawa it is just not the right time. Rawa's parents have decided to give him time and see how he feels as he gets a little older. But for now little Rawa has been given the right to be heard and just have some fun without too many big decisions that may change the way he views his life (see the video below).

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Meanwhile Rawa's heart function was also evaluated today. Seven medical people gathered around the echo machine, straining to understand what had been done to the valve in Rawa's heart. As Rawa's mother stood with one hand on her son, she looked at me. In a sea of many different expressions and strange languages she didn't understand, I was the only one looking back at her. With a wink, a smile and a nod, the tension began to disappear from her face. When the echo was finished and the paperwork was being completed I said, "The mother has two questions. 1.) Is the repair you made to Rawa's heart working as you had intended? and 2.) Did it leave any residual problems that she should know about?"

The answers were, "1.) The valve repair is functioning beautifully! and 2.) There is a small residual hole (VSD) that may or may not close on its own. We do not expect it will be cause for another surgery in the future even if it does not close on its own." Stitches and wires were removed and another echo scheduled for next week. I am thankful for the success of the surgery and that we have the privilege of asking the "Great Physician" to complete the repair on Rawa's heart.

The Next Step for Rawa

Posted on Mon, 01/31/2011 - 06:50 by Michelle_Bradburn

It was a blessing to see Rawa today, smiling happily and strolling around the children's ward with his mother. Every time I've seen him I'm struck by the beauty in his eyes, such a striking contentment and maturity for his small body and nine years of boyhood. Towards the end of the day the doctors performed a follow up echo, and with results displaying a healthy heart they sent him back with us to Jerusalem. We're so thankful for the healing God is doing in this special boy.

However, a challenging part of the day came when a specialized doctor came to discuss with Rawa's mother the possibility of surgery on his hands, a cosmetic surgery to remove the sixth finger he has on each hand. With simple discussion and small demonstrations it's evident that the fingers are not an obstruction to Rawa's actions at all, and do not seem to disable the functioning of his hands in any way. The doctor explained that the surgery would be for the sole purpose of making Rawa's hands more like those of a normal child, hoping to protect him from the social, emotional, and physiological challenges that would face a boy growing up with such a situation as this. As the doctor discussed these heavy decisions with Rawa's mother through translators, I watched Rawa sitting alone on the bed, silently beginning to weep as he timidly tried to hide the tears. It's clear he himself is dreading such a surgery (understandably), but as the mother weighed the consequences and called the father for instruction, the decision was made to go through with the surgery within the coming month, which was the doctor's recommendation.

This is a tough decision to make for a child, and we pray that God will give clear guidance to this family, and deep, unspeakable peace to this little boy as he faces such painful difficulties most children never dream of. Please pray with us that God's will be done in this sweet boy's life, and above all he would know how precious and loved he is, no matter how different he may be.

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

Psalm 139:15-18

A Cheerful Visit with Rawa

Posted on Fri, 01/28/2011 - 06:50 by Mary_Dailey

We want to thank everyone of you who has helped us pray for Rawa. I'm writing this to show you how God does answer your prayers. After we prayed for Rawa at our morning meeting we all felt that some of us needed to go to Wolfson to check on him today. We also felt like we should take Bilal's mother (pictured above left) with us. We took what we thought was a silly stuffed toy parrot and a bag of candy and were on our way. When we got there I went straight to I.C.U. because we knew that's where he would be. Guess what? He wasn't there, they said they had moved him back to the ward because he was doing well now. We all (Michelle, Suhail, Bilal's mother and I) went to the ward and there he was sitting in his bed all smiles. It seemed there had been some misunderstandings yesterday that had caused his mother and him to have much fear. Some time before we got there this morning it had gotten all cleared up and his mother and he were fine. Doctor Bennie said that they were keeping a close eye on him because of his heart arrhythmia (irregularity). They are going to watch him till Sunday and then maybe a equip him with a halter to monitor his heartbeat. Rawa fell in love with what we thought was a silly parrot. He laughed so hard when he saw it and kept stroking it and playing with it. Bilal's mother was really a great help and we all had some quality time together. They walked down to the play room for a while and then we went outside for awhile. It was a beautiful day and the air was crisp, not too cold and pleasant. We all had a great time and Rawa was doing better then he was the day before. As I said at the beginning of this report, thank you for your prayers and God bless you. He does hear our prayers.

Rawa Afraid and Needs Our Prayers

Posted on Thu, 01/27/2011 - 06:50 by Donna_West

Although Rawa seemed to be doing quite well yesterday, something has changed and he has an irregular heart beat now. He is being returned to ICU (from the ward) for constant monitoring.

Rawa is in great need of our prayers. He is fearful and very distraught. He continues to cry and cannot seem to be comforted. As near as I can tell through translation he has fear of unlikely abandonment, instead of crying about pain. He continually wants to remove the electrodes attached to monitor his heart rate, even though there is no pain associated with them being on his chest. His mother appears to be exasperated and desperate to resolve his fears.

Rawa Walks Out of the ICU

Posted on Wed, 01/26/2011 - 06:50 by Mary_Dailey

When I stopped into the I.C.U. this morning to see Rawa, he looked good but not happy. He was crying and uncomfortable and didn't want his mother to get out of his sight. The nurses were busy around him so I didn't stay long, but I went back later and brought him some of our bubbles thinking they might amuse him for a little while. I had a feeling that they were getting him ready for the ward because they were removing all the things that are needed in I.C.U.

We had to go check on Akar and Ronyal. While we were there Rawa came walking down the hall toward the ward with his mother and a nurse!

He had walked from I.C.U. to the ward and was having no trouble at all walking. His mother looked relieved, earlier she had been really worried. It seemed that after he had gotten a bed in the ward that his whole countenance changed. He was sitting up in the bed blowing bubbles and also was eating.

Isn't it amazing what a change from I.C.U. to a room in the ward can do? We certainly do appreciate your prayers and your support. Keep praying that God will continue the healing process and that He will also take care of all the genetic concerns.

Rawa Recovering in the ICU, Mom Worried

Posted on Tue, 01/25/2011 - 06:50 by Jonathan Miles

Tonight we found Rawa alert and breathing on his own in the ICU, communicating with a frail whisper and still sensitive to being moved. His mother has found it difficult being alone in the ICU without another Kurdish speaker, and has allowed some anxiety to creep into her thoughts.

Our coworker Michelle (just back from Kurdistan, and speaking Kurdish) was able to reassure Rawa's mother, and also let her now that two other Kurdish mothers were admitted today as well. Our prayers too will help, for mother's peace and son's continued healing.