Rozhgar's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Just One More Day

Posted on Mon, 03/31/2014 - 22:11 by Kristina Kayser

Kelsey, Shirel, and I entered Wolfson Hospital early this morning. The hospital corridors were quiet as we made our way to the children's ward where our Kurdish friends had spent the night. Sweet Rozhgar was the first to greet us, a little bleary eyed but still beaming and ready with kisses for all.

We soon learned she and Sara had exchanged sleep for a night of exploring the hospital and enjoying last moments together before their upcoming surgeries. The two girls had bid each other farewell just before we arrived. 

Throughout the day, Rozhgar waited faithfully for Sara during her friend's surgery. She watched eagerly and a bit anxiously as the hours ticked by. In the meantime, we received some important news affecting Rozhgar’s surgery schedule. Due to an unexpectedly urgent case, Rozhgar's surgery has been postponed from Tuesday morning to Wednesday. Tears of disappointment welled up in Rozhgar’s eyes after hearing this disappointing news, and she immediately turned to us for comfort in our arms. She regained her composure after a few minutes, however, and was waving us goodbye full of smiles once again when we left. 

Please pray for Rozhgar and her mother as they wait just a little longer for her big surgery day. I trust God's grace will be sufficient for her and His timing is perfect!

On the Edge of Surgery

Posted on Sun, 03/30/2014 - 23:11 by Philip Rasmussen

After nearly one month of waiting for surgery, Rozhgar is finally heading into her operation. Today she said goodbye to Jerusalem and headed out on a journey built on trust in the midst of uncertainty and anxiety. She is a grown-up girl and knows well what a surgery of this caliber implies, especially since she has had prior experience with a surgery a little more than a year ago.

With this in mind, she and her fellow Kurd Sara (who is having her surgery tomorrow) wanted to take advantage of their last opportunity to be active and outside before their surgery leaves them in a more fragile state for a while. As a result, before being waved off at Prophet’s Street, they spent some time in a nearby park in the heart of spring-filled Jerusalem.

Then an enthusiastic group of volunteers sent Rozhgar off.

Though Rozhgar is scheduled to have her surgery Tuesday, she was invited for her admission today, which ended up being a pleasant invitation as she got to follow and support her good friend Sara. Because her operation is two days out, however, there weren’t many procedures for Rozhgar to go through today. She only had an x-ray, where we snapped this picture of the two families waiting in the imaging-area.

We have been blessed by her sweet presence here at the base, and now with faithful hearts and prayers we ask for her protection and healing.

Lasting Joy

Posted on Thu, 03/13/2014 - 21:52 by Rahel Eschler

It was a short and efficient trip to the hospital today. We rushed through the life-giving rain which has been besieging Israel lately towards Tel Aviv, where Rozhgar and her mum had been waiting since the early morning to be picked up.

As soon as we appeared in the door frame of their room in the children ward, little smiles flitted over their faces. Although Rozhgar still looked a little tired, she has recovered well from her successful catheterization yesterday. There was nothing to hold her back anymore from coming home to our base in Jerusalem.

It was apparent soon after we arrived that Rozhgar had been having fun at the hospital recently.

She brought a lot of gifts back to Shevet with her, mostly sweets and carnival items. She received them from volunteering students, who were sharing out items to celebrate the feast of Purim. This Jewish holiday remembers the story in the book of Esther in which the Jewish people living in the ancient Persian Empire were delivered from a plot formed to destroy them. It’s also a celebration of lasting joy. We hope and pray for Rozghar’s story to be one of abundant joy and life too.      

A Successful Day

Posted on Wed, 03/12/2014 - 21:51 by Jemina Ahola

This morning Ruth and I headed for Wolfson Hospital to be with Rozhgar and her mother during Rozhgar’s catheterization. Since her catheterization was cancelled last week, we were praying especially today for a successful procedure to take place. We took fellow patient Sara, who has grown fond of her similarly-aged friend, along for the trip. The car ride went smoothly, and we even managed to play Uno on the way.

Upon our arrival, we found out Rozhgar's procedure had already started. We soon spotted Rozhgar’s mom with tears in her eyes, satisfied that this time her daughter was actually being examined but also anxious concerning her safety. We were apologetic about being late, but thankful for the progression of Rozhgar’s care.

While waiting for the procedure to be finished, Sara colored some beautiful paper-doll dresses, and we played with some hand-tricks. Rozhgar’s mother was anxious to see her daughter this whole time, and she kept family members up-to-date with multiple phone calls.

After the wait, we were all happy to see Rozhgar moved to the ward with a tired smile on her face. The doctors announced everything had gone well without problems. Now they have the data they need for planning Rozhgar’s surgery.

At the ward it was beautiful to see two friends united, as Sara whispered in Rozhgar’s ear and Rozhgar gently smacked Sara on the face.

We hope tomorrow Rozhgar will be discharged and back with Sara in Jerusalem. Please pray for Rozhgar’s surgery preparations and for God to give both her and Sara the right time slots for their surgeries in His good timing.

Admitted for Catheterization

Posted on Tue, 03/11/2014 - 20:10 by Jesse Tilman

Rozhgar was again admitted for a catheterization this evening. We hope to see the process through tomorrow at an unknown time as of yet.

While at the hospital, we met many students and clowns starting to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim. Rozhgar got in on the fun too.

Loaded up with presents, we settled mother and daughter in their room and met the neighbors in the bed next to them. Rozhgar’s mother was soon ready to get outside, and we went to a small playground area with a big tree in the middle of it. We could hear the birds singing and see the indicators that spring is on its way. At the end of our visit, we wished them the best and let them know a group will be coming to see them tomorrow.

Boundless Love

Posted on Wed, 03/05/2014 - 21:40 by Jasmine Hopkins

Today Rozhgar was scheduled to receive her catheterization. It is a stressful, scary experience for anybody, and it was touching to see Sara and her mother come with us to give Rozhgar support and companionship. From the moment we arrived, Sara and Rozhgar were inseparable! Their friendship is absolutely amazing, their dedication touching.

Our visit (my first) was strange for me, as I didn't understand the language spoken by the families, but they were patient with me and included me in the day’s events. Even with the language barrier, I felt their love toward us, and I believe they felt our love for them.

The catheterization was scheduled to start at 8 am, the first operation on the list, and Rozghar had been fasting since midnight prior. But then her spot was delayed, and she was moved to third on the list. She was getting a bit tired and hungry, so to distract her we played outside for a bit and had some good interactions with both her and Sara. Sometimes Rozhgar would pull me along when she saw me looking lost and confused, and it was touching to have her be so patient with me and my lack of understanding of her. She is a beautiful child.

Then when the arts and crafts center opened, we went inside to exercise our creative skills. While the girls were coloring, I decided to make something for them. I asked Christina to procure the names of the girls’ favorite animals. Sara's was a horse, and Rozhgar's was a dove. Armed with this information, I began sketching the animals. Sara started coloring the horse I made for her, and was partially finished with Rozhgar's dove when one of the art center aids came over, saw the drawings I had finished, and asked me to do more so they could have templates for other kids!

Afterwards came mask making. Rozhgar kept asking me to do it for her, but I simply repeated “hoshnya!” (“not good”). We were both stubborn, but she was more stubborn than me, so I did part of the mask at her direction. Eventually Rozhgar took over, and we rushed through the creation process, as she was worried she would get called for the catheterization before the mask was done.

The end results were beautiful.

Around 12:30 in the afternoon, we were called back to the room only to find out Rozhgar’s catheterization was canceled. She and her mother were heartbroken, and Rozhgar was moved to tears while Sara held her hand and comforted her. I didn't know what to say, so I tried to cheer her up by conveying that she could now eat. Christina had the same idea about food and said that after the catheter material was removed from Rozhgar’s arm, we would go get ice cream at McDonalds and then head back to the hospital. We had the catheter removed, experienced fun times with a hospital nurse clown, and sat down to eat lunch and finish art projects. 

Then it was off for ice cream.

I was surprised, as we headed to McDonalds, when Sara's mother slipped her arm around mine! I had been walking alone towards the back of the group, looking a little uncomfortable. My only verbal communications during the day were limited to "hoshnya" (“not good”), "bashi" (“good”), "spas" (“thank you”), "j'wana" (“beautiful”), and "shaia nineia" (“you're welcome”), and I definitely wasn’t in my comfort zone at the time. I don’t know how, but soon all of us were arm-in-arm with at least one other person.

These mothers and children are such great people, and it was absolutely wonderful spending time with them today. Thank God for this wonderful time interacting with people so different than myself and exchanging love with them. I hope to continue having good times with them and interacting and learning from them, their culture, and their love. I pray God continues to act in their lives, as He does in ours, as is according to His Will.

Stepping Forward

Posted on Tue, 03/04/2014 - 20:41 by Shannon Kelley

We set out to Tel Aviv this afternoon to admit Rozhgar into the hospital in preparation for her catheterization early tomorrow morning, which will provide vital information for Rozhgar's surgery.

When the doctor arrived to insert the IV, Rozhgar lay down on the hospital bed and rolled up her sleeve. Her mother stood by silently, resting an encouraging hand on her daughter's side. Rozhgar winced as the doctor tried to find her vein and bravely offered her other arm in case it was needed. By the time the IV was set, both Rozhgar and her mother were misty-eyed. Perhaps this beginning of a second surgical journey also began to stir memories of the first and all the struggles that accompanied it. 

To lighten the mood, we ventured to the food court after Rozhgar’s admittance to obtain McDonald's ice cream cones for the Kurdish families.

Although this is just one of the many hospital visits to come for Rozhgar, we are encouraged by her and her mother's strength, as well as by how the Lord's hand is guiding their journey. Please pray with us for the doctors to obtain all the information they need as Rozhgar undergoes her catheterization in the morning.

First Day Back at the Hospital

Posted on Mon, 03/03/2014 - 21:38 by SV

Today was Rozhgar’s first visit back to the hospital after her surgery in Israel about a year ago. We drove this morning to Tel Aviv with a full schedule ahead of us in preparation for her second heart surgery.

One thing worth mentioning is the calm maturity Rozhgar possesses, as evidenced by how she behaved during today’s hospital tests. She acted calmly and appeared knowledgeable of everything happening around and to her, asking questions and showing interest in what was happening as the doctors carried out the examinations.

For a 14-year-old girl, the maturity she has developed is impressive.

After a full day, the doctors told us her oxygen has increased since the last surgery, which is a good sign. They believe she is ready for the next stage of treatment, which involves surgery to close a hole between the two lower chambers of her heart. Before this operation, however, she needs to go through a process of preparation. This coming Wednesday she will be admitted into the hospital for at least two days in order to undergo a catheterization. After this procedure, the doctors will determine when she will have her second heart surgery.

Would you please pray for Rozhgar as she prepares for the road ahead of her? She is a brave, young woman, and I have no doubt she will be victorious.

Rozhgar Returns to Israel

Posted on Sun, 03/02/2014 - 20:40 by Kristina Kayser

A little over a year has passed since our community bid lovely Rozhgar farewell. Stage one of a two-part heart repair had been completed, and doctors at Wolfson recommended she finish her heart treatment in Israel in the imminent future. Time went by, and then suddenly we found ourselves preparing to welcome Rozghar and her mother back. When I first contacted Rozhgar's family a few weeks ago, I discovered fears concerning the second surgery were making them hesitant to return. Thankfully after much prayer and encouragement, their travel to Jordan was confirmed for last Wednesday. 

Friday morning found a van full of Shevet volunteers and Kurdish families heading north to the Beit She'an border. Two children on their way back to Iraq were crossing into Jordan, while Rozhgar and another child, Aram, were crossing into Israel. The exchange went smoothly, and it was wonderful to round a corner and see Rozhgar's beautiful smile again. She hugged me tight, repeating exuberantly in English, "I love you! I love you!" I couldn't help but notice what a graceful and kind young woman she is becoming. Rozhgar is also now able to look me directly in the eye and may soon pass me in height! 

There was a warm greeting waiting for us at the Shevet house, especially from Sara and her mother.

Sara's and Rozhgar's time in Jerusalem had overlapped during their first stay, and the two had become good friends. What a joyous reunion it was to witness.

Tomorrow, Rozhgar will be at Wolfson for her first follow-up echo and assessments in country. Both she and her mother have voiced their hopes for a successful surgery and a smoother recovery than the first time. In the meantime, we are happy to have this duo among us and are looking forward to building even stronger friendships with them. 

Second Coming

Posted on Sun, 12/29/2013 - 16:50 by Kelsey Cannon

Prior to her first surgery in Israel last November, doctors wondered aloud how Rozhgar ever lived to be twelve years of age considering the severity of her heart defects, Tetralogy of Fallot. While we may never know exactly how she survived, we are thankful for God’s grace in her life, and that one year later this brave girl is primed to return to Wolfson Hospital for a final repair of her heart. We hope to have Rozhgar back with us to begin her journey to full health in the next month or so.