Rayan's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Sensory Stimulation

Posted on Tue, 11/20/2007 - 22:46 by Lee_Liang_Chian

When I visited Rayan in the children's ward this afternoon, I found SACH volunteer Estee patiently exercising Rayan. A small rattle toy was in Rayan's right hand, which Estee gently shook so that it made some sounds as she moved Rayan's hand up and down. Tara's mother was also present to lend a helping hand to exercise Rayan's feet. 

All this is part of the physiotherapist's recommended treatment for Rayan -- to provide the child with as much sensory stimulation and movement as possible without tiring him. Rayan's hearing is good, although his vision remains unfocused. 

Physiotherapist Tali has also encouraged Rayan's mother to bring the boy out in the stroller to the garden or open space whenever he is not hooked up to some tubes or monitoring equipment. As such, the nurses have arranged for Rayan to have his nasal feed for one hour and rest for two hours, instead of having a continuous nasal feed attached to him. This would allow more flexibility for Rayan's mother to take him outside for some fresh air and a change of environment. Unfortunately, it rained rather heavily today and so Rayan's stroll had to be postponed.

Later in the evening, while Hank and I were waiting in the carpark for Autumn and our Gazan patients, we saw a rainbow stretching across the sky and one end of it 'touched' the Wolfson sign atop the hospital building. We were really excited to see this wonderful sight after the rain. Not only did we manage to capture the rainbow on our digital camera before it started to fade, but we also raised up our prayers to our Heavenly Father for His wondrous promise of healing and restoration for Rayan, Soz, Hedi, Tara, Ahmad, Nadia. And for many other children by name.

Out of the ICU and Into Therapy

Posted on Mon, 11/19/2007 - 22:46 by Donna_Petrel
It was a big surprise to realize that Rayan had been moved from the ICU to the children's ward today. He was in the same room as Soz as she awaited her surgery, so I found out about the change when I went in to see Soz. After only a few moments' visit, the physical therapist came into the room to begin showing Rayan's mother how to work with him. While I went with Soz and mother to her surgery, a new friend in the Tel Aviv area spent time with Rayan and his mother, and assured her of the many prayers which are being offered for Rayan. I did make sure to speak with the nurse this evening before I left, and was able to have a short visit with Rayan as well.
The nurse said it appears there is some brain damage which was likely from a clot, though the tests have not been conclusive. She told me that he is not blind, but there seems to be some neurological damage affecting his eyes. Before we could have more detailed discussion, a patient's parent came with an emergency, and although I waited for a little while, the nurse had to attend to another very sick child further down the hall. Hopefully we can get more details tomorrow.
When I went into Rayan's room, his mother was sitting on the bed with him doing the exercises the therapist had shown her this morning. She worked patiently with him while we visited and the other mothers in the room encouraged her and Rayan in their efforts. I learned that Rayan had been holding a balloon in his right arm earlier today, even though the right side is where there has been some paralysis. This evening he was practicing gripping a small ball with both hands with his mother's help.
Those of us who have been involved with this precious family will continue to pray for Rayan to be totally healed to the glory of God. We invite you to join us in praying fervently for Rayan's total recovery.

Trusting God For Restoration of Brain Function

Posted on Sun, 11/18/2007 - 22:46 by Lee_Liang_Chian

Today's report on Rayan is pretty serious, and we ask you to stand with us in prayer for him. The recent CT scan results show that Rayan suffered a minor stroke which has affected some of his brain functions. The doctor explained that it is not a matter of the extent of the stroke but of the location in the parts of brain affected. The right part of Rayan's body has been weakened by the stroke.

When Rayan's mother showed me Rayan's right hand, I noticed that his little fist was clenched. However, as I stroked his hand and rubbed his little fingers while his mother spoke tenderly into his ear, Rayan's right fist relaxed and there seemed to be some movement. I encouraged his mother to talk to Rayan whenever he is awake.

When I first saw Rayan today, he had a dazed look and was constantly turning his head to the left and then to the right. Every now and then, he would stop turning his head in order to make deep yawns, as if he were trying to take in more oxygen.

This seems very worrying to us, but the doctor told us that Rayan is still on sedatives, which have the effect of slowing down brain functions. Yet the sedatives are necessary to reduce activities in the brain, to prevent Rayan from having more seizures during this critical phase.

As Rayan's mother has been mostly in either the ICU or the cubicle where she rests in between her 'watches' over her son, I took her to the computer room where she could take a look at Rayan's blog. I also took the opportunity to show her Karwan's blog, pointing to the date when Karwan was re-admitted into the ICU when he became bloated up as fluids accumulated around his lungs, and the date when Karwan was discharged from the hospital to rest at the Save a Child's Heart children's home, to the most recent blogs when Karwan and his mother visited Jerusalem before taking their flights home from Amman... all within a matter of weeks. In simple English and gestures, I communicated to her that the worst will also be a thing of the past for Rayan. She signed her response, "Inshallah" (GOD willing!).

When we got back to the ICU after lunch, Rayan seemed more alert. His eyes appeared to focus better and he even reached out to pinch his mother's nose with his left hand! Both his mother and I savoured the moments when Rayan was reaching out to touch and grasp with his little hand.

Later, when my friend from Singapore came over to visit at the hospital, we prayed over Rayan and his mother, and his dear mother bent over to kiss him over and over. As we left the hospital, we encouraged her to take good care of herself, to rest while Rayan is asleep, so as not to over-extend herself as she is advanced in her pregnancy. Thankfully, tonight she will have the company of two other Iraqi mothers at the hospital, as Soz and Hedi were warded in the late afternoon to prepare them for their operations, taking place Monday.

Please keep Rayan and his family in prayer during this critical phase, and may the LORD our Healer touch Rayan in the critical 'problem areas' in the parts of his body where neither the doctors nor technological equipment could detect.

Rayan Opens His Eyes

Posted on Thu, 11/15/2007 - 22:46 by Lee_Liang_Chian

When I arrived at Wolfson today, Rayan's mother was sitting in the waiting lounge with a friend and she looked relaxed. This was a good indication for me that Rayan is much better today, even though he is still in the ICU.

I offered Rayan's mom some coffee but she declined, saying, "No coffee. No good (for) baby" and pointed to her big tummy. To which I responded, "Ah, Mama Rayan good mummy!" and we laughed together and shared some chocolates instead.

When we went to the ICU to see Rayan, he was asleep. As we chatted by his bedside, the boy started to stir and soon after, he opened his lovely big eyes. Rayan's mother lost no time in whipping out a fluffy blue and yellow chick which Autumn had given him yesterday, and dangled before him a little angel from me.

As Rayan is slowly coming out from the sedation medicine he was given two days ago, he did not react to his mother's attempts to make him smile. But the little boy gazed at his mother, who later held his hands and stroked him tenderly.

Dr. Houri told me that the CT scan on Rayan was alright and that it showed up nothing unusual. As such, the cause of Rayan's seizure remains a mystery and he is still under observation. 

Nevertheless, Rayan's mother is more at peace now that Rayan is coming out of his "induced coma" state. When I showed her pictures and video clips taken of Karwan's trip to Jerusalem before leaving for home, Rayan's mother was able to believe that just as Karwan had quickly recovered from a sudden negative turn of events (when he was all puffed up because of fluid build-up), so too would Rayan make it through the present uncertainty.

When I left the hospital, Rayan's mom was reading the Koran and praying by Rayan's bedside, and she promised to have sufficient rest. She has chosen to remain in the hospital this weekend, to be with her son when he awakes.

Induced Coma

Posted on Tue, 11/13/2007 - 22:46 by Donna_Petrel

Today was a heart-rending day at the hospital. Rayan's mother is heartbroken over the condition of her son, even while she, along with everyone else, rejoices over the news of Karwan's dismissal to go home. When we arrived, she was sitting in the ICU waiting room, clearly distraught and exhausted. We went in together to visit Rayan, and I saw how extreme the change was from our pleasant evening just Sunday night. That evening he was happy, playful, and had a great appetite. Today he is lying in the ICU in an induced coma. His mother was in high spirits on Sunday night, anticipating going home very soon. Today she is pale and anguished beyond words.

What I understand is that after we left on Sunday night, he complained of a headache, as he had done a few times in the previous days. Later in the night, he was unresponsive to his mother's voice when she checked on him, was checked by the doctor at the house, and taken to the ICU. He had not had fever, but when he arrived was found to have high fever. He had a seizure at the hospital, and a test was done to determine the cause of these symptoms. The test results did not show the cause. He has been sedated to keep him in an induced coma until a diagnosis can be made. Both Dr. Houri and Dr. Alona said he is somewhat better today, praise God.

Rayan's mother needs our prayers for strength and perseverance. Because she is 5 1/2 months pregnant, we need to pray that she does not go into early labor due to the physical and emotional stress of this situation. She spent the time when I was with her in the ICU kissing Rayan, speaking quietly to him, crying, praying, and reading the Koran.

She allowed me to pray for Rayan, and it was a special time of the Lord's presence.

We took her back to the Save A Child's Heart house so she could get some rest. All of the mothers surrounded her with their love and compassion when she walked in, and encouraged her to rest so she could be strong when Rayan wakes up. It seems at the moment she is fearful that this may not happen... let us cover her in prayer as we lift this precious boy up to the God who heals. Please pray fervently for Rayan's healing, his sweet mother, the doctors and nurses treating him, his family back home, and those who will be ministering to him. May God show Himself mighty in this family's lives.

Rayan in ICU; Prayer Needed

Posted on Mon, 11/12/2007 - 22:46 by Donna_Petrel
We've just learned that Rayan was admitted to the ICU in the middle of the night when he became sick. He is currently intubated to help him breathe, and sedated. Dr. Houri, the head of the ICU, said he does not know what is wrong but they will know in the morning after waiting 24 hours for results from tests done this morning. He said he does not believe it is from the fluid buildup he had last week. Please pray for his mother as well. She is resting at the Save a Child's Heart house at the moment after being at the hospital with Rayan. She is pregnant, and although she didn't want to leave Rayan, was convinced to get some rest while he is sedated.

Good Manners

Posted on Sun, 11/11/2007 - 06:50 by Donna_Petrel

Rayan was at Wolfson today for another echocardiogram, and Dr. Tamir determined that he should have another one on Thursday to see if Rayan is ready to return home. When we visited him at the Save A Child's Heart house this afternoon, he was sleeping, but awakened in time to share a delicious meal among all six of the Iraqi mothers and children now at the house. Rayan was in a very lively mood after he ate, and enjoyed playing with the other children. He continues to amaze me with his good manners for such a little boy, rarely becoming upset at the things which other children cry about. He was quite affectionate, and we had lots of fun being together as we visited all the children.
Please keep praying for Rayan and his mom as they wait these few more days to be sure Rayan is fully ready to be released to go home. They are looking forward to it with great anticipation, and so are we!

Dismissed from Hospital

Posted on Sun, 11/04/2007 - 06:50 by Lee_Liang_Chian

Rayan's surgery wound is healing beautifully, and today he is dismissed from Wolfson to rest at the Save A Child's Heart house before his next echo and check-up to confirm that he is fit to return home. Rayan's mother, who is five months pregnant, is happy to see her son's speedy recovery and excited over the prospect of going home very soon.

Before leaving the hospital, the mothers of Rayan and Soz went on a shopping spree at the canyon to stock up on candies and snacks for their children. These two ladies have become close buddies, and Soz's mom will truly miss her new-found friend when Rayan's mom returns to Iraq with her son.

"Picture Good!"

Posted on Thu, 11/01/2007 - 22:46 by Lee_Liang_Chian

Rayan continues to run a fever today. Since he had his operation just 10 days ago, the doctors wanted to monitor his condition more closely. So today, Rayan had his echocardiogram done and x-ray taken. The most traumatic part for this little boy was when he had to get his blood sample taken. He started to cry when the nurses tied his arm with a rubber glove and started looking for a suitable vein to draw blood. When he felt the prick of the needle, he bawled and wailed till Rayan's mother almost cried too.

Once the tests were over, Rayan readily reverted back to his cheerful self. 

Soz's mother accompanied Rayan into the x-ray room as Rayan's mother is pregnant and has to avoid any exposure to x-rays. Along the way, a funny episode took place. I had been taking photos of them and showing them what was shot. Then Soz's mother said to me, "Picture no good. Mama Rayan no good. No good baby" (pointing to Rayan's mom's tummy). I did not quite understand what Soz's mother meant until we got to the x-ray department. That's when Rayan's mother pointed to a notice and read out in Arabic the warning for pregnant mothers, and Soz's mother repeated what she had been saying to me in English! And all along, I thought Soz's mother was saying that Rayan's did not want her picture to be taken showing her in her pregnant state!! Confusion finally clarified.

On the way back to the ward, we passed by a little garden and the mothers were glad to be out in the open for a breather. The children especially enjoyed being able to watch the aeroplanes flying high overhead, while the mothers took out their cameras and asked for their shots to be taken. This time, it's "Picture good!"

Sweet and Contented

Posted on Wed, 10/31/2007 - 06:50 by Lee_Liang_Chian

Rayan greeted me with a wide grin today when I came into the room he shares with Soz and one other patient. His cheerful countenance belies the fact that he started having a fever today, while his room-mate Soz's fever began yesterday. Both mothers said, with some humour, that a virus is in the air in the room!

Then I asked if the two mothers wanted to see Soz and Rayan on the internet, and very excitedly both of them picked up their children and away we trooped into the computer room. Both the children and their mothers were happy to see their pictures posted on the blogs.

Then the mothers asked to see the pictures of the other Iraqi children who had come before. They recognised Sakar's father, who was present at the recent screening exercise in Amman and saw how well Sakar looked, compared to her pre-operation photos. The mothers were greatly encouraged when they saw pictures of the process of before, during and after the operations of the various Iraqi children on Shevet Achim's website. When I told them that after their children have had their operations, have sufficient rest and nutrition, they will also have a healthy glow and will soon be running about. Both mothers replied, "Inshallah" (GOD willing!).

While going through the archived blogs, Rayan's mother recognised Younis who had his operation at the Rambam Hospital in Haifa. She told me that Rayan's dad and Younis's dad are close friends. As we scrolled through Younis' blog, we came across a picture of Younis with Zhino and Omar, with all three of them showing off their surgery scars. Younis, who had been a picky eater and would only have cakes and bread dipped in "chai" (tea), had the most obvious scar and his surgery wound took the longest to heal. That gave me the opportunity to share how important it was for the children to eat well and receive good nutrition in order for them to heal well. Then all the three Iraqi mothers (of Rayan, Soz and Karwan) nodded their heads in agreement.

Rayan is such a sweet boy, playing contentedly by himself while his mother chatted with me. In spite of his fever, he hardly fussed except for his milk, which must get to him real quick the moment he feels his hunger pangs coming. If he eats well, that's a good sign. Praise the LORD!