Sarur's Heart Surgery



Posted on Thu, 01/29/2015 - 22:07 by Brian Mace

Ruth, Julia and I visited Wolfson hospital this afternoon to visit Marwan from Gaza, who is continuing to receive physio, and to bring back to Shevet Arwa and Sarur, who were both discharged today. On our way back we stopped at the beach for a few minutes.

While Arweh's mother and Sarur's father were posing for photos on the beach with the sea behind them, a huge wave rose up the beach very quickly indeed, and despite my frantic warnings in English [which neither could understand] their feet became wet before they jumped away! But it was a fun time for them all.

Surur is returning post-op and will need periodic feedings slowly through a stomach tube of heavily fortified milk, in a continuing effort to increase his body weight and reverse the serious malnutrition that he suffered. He is a lovely sweet baby who seems content wherever he is

Hope Grows

Posted on Mon, 01/26/2015 - 20:58 by Kristina Kayser

Darling Sarur and his ever-devoted father become more dear to our hearts with each passing week. It has now been five weeks since this father and son arrived in Israel, and every night except the first has been spent in Wolfson Hospital. We watched and cheered as Sarur painstakingly gained the necessary 500 grams prior to heart surgery. And we praised God when his surgery was beautifully completed one week ago today.

As is common for children following open-heart surgery, Sarur has lost weight, but because he was frail to begin with, the regression has greater impact. He is now almost back to the same weight with which he came, near 3.5kg. The uphill battle for Sarur continues, but not without hope. He may be small, yet his strength and courage astound me. Truly, the grace of God is on this boy's life.

Dr. Alona told me today that his heart is healing well and that they are increasing his caloric intake this week. The pediatrician in the children's ward further explained that beginning tomorrow, Sarur will be introduced to a new meal regiment with six scheduled feedings per day. If he shows enough progress in the next few days, Sarur and his father could rejoin us in Jerusalem by week's end or soon thereafter! His father was, of course, delighted with this news. His joyful disposition and generous spirit have continued unabated, despite an extended and arduous hospital stay. This too reflects the grace of God.

So, it is with growing hope in our hearts that we look ahead to Sarur's further recovery and return to the Shevet home. Join with us in praising God for His faithfulness towards Sarur and trusting Him for all that lies ahead! 

Sarur Returns To The Children's Ward

Posted on Fri, 01/23/2015 - 12:06 by Brian Mace

Marilyn and I were blessed to visit Sarur this afternoon, and were delighted to find him and his loving father in the normal ward. They were released from secondary ICU on Tuesday. We had a lovely time with him and his father, and were thrilled to see that Sarur has colour and life in his face. He is still receiving milk via a stomach tube, but he is retaining all the food and looking healthier. 

Sarur Is Extubated

Posted on Tue, 01/20/2015 - 22:49 by Ruth Zellweger

A happy looking father met me today in the hallways at the children's ward. He told me that Sarur had been extubated and was breathing on his own. I went into the ICU a little bit later and found Sarur lying peacefully in his big bed, his eyes watching what was going on around him. I held his little hand for a while, praising God for the wonderful work that He is doing in Sarur's heart and life. What a privilege to watch this precious little boy come to life more and more, and to see his loving father ceaselessly caring for him.

Successful Surgery

Posted on Mon, 01/19/2015 - 22:20 by Kyle Carlson

Today around 3:30 pm, we received an unexpected phone call from Sarur's father in which he told us that Sarur was already in surgery! This was much to our surprise, as we had not anticipated his surgery to be this soon. After he received his new feeding tube last week, it took him a few days to acclimate, but he then started to gain weight more rapidly and was now at an acceptable level for open heart surgery. Ruth and I left Jerusalem as quickly as possible to support Sarur's father during the waiting time. Upon our arrival at the hospital, we found Sarur's father patiently waiting in the ICU-waiting room. Despite the difficult circumstances, he was excited to see us and greeted us with a warm smile. We then sat and talked with him while waiting for Sarur's surgery to finish.

Sarur was born with a hole between the two upper chambers of his heart and the purpose of today's surgery was to fix this defect. Even though the surgery was not as complicated as others, it was finished remarkably fast. We were able to briefly greet Sarur as he was wheeled into the ICU for recovery. The medical staff needed to check Sarur for a while, which gave us the opportunity to get some dinner with Sarur's father.

He was emotional when he first saw Sarur on his way to the ICU, but once he heard a positive report from the doctor, he began to relax and enjoy the meal. After 45 minutes, we were able to see Sarur in the ICU. It was tough to see him in such a condition. He had just gone through a life altering surgery and looked as though he was in a very fragile state. However, this surgery will make him stronger and give him a better life! It is remarkable what God can do through the talented staff at Wolfson Hospital. It was equally difficult to see the anguish on his father's face; his love and compassion for Sarur were obvious. However, it was very encouraging to see Sarur's father love and care for him so much. It was a privilege to witness this moment. We are so thankful that Sarur was able to have his surgery today and that is was successful. Sarur will continue along the road of recovery with a mended heart and improved nutrition. With the help of his loving family both at home and in Jerusalem, and through the many prayers covering him, I am sure he will continue to progress one day at a time.

Patients and Encouragement

Posted on Wed, 01/14/2015 - 21:18 by Kyle Carlson

It is always great to see Sarur and his father during our hospital visits. Not only to see the progress Sarur has made, but also do encourage and spend time with his father. The two of them have been in the hospital for many weeks now, however is father is still just as joyful now as he was the day they arrived. He is an example of patients and thankfulness. He is always ready to give you his seat or pour you a glass of soda to make you feel more welcomed. He is a blessing to anyone who visits, and to the medical staff at Wolfson Hospital. Today he let his neighbors watch a short movie on his phone, and then he let Sarur watch some. He is a blessing to Sarur and a very loving father who wants to see his son grow to be a strong man.


Sarur has been making slow, but steady progress. Today his father and I discussed, through many hand motions, how Sarur has his good and bad days, but he is still consistently gaining weight. Sarur’s current weight is 3.89 kilograms, which is getting quite close to the desired 4 kilogram bench mark. The doctors want to see his weight increase more and at a faster rate, so they are going to perform a procedure called a “Skin Gastrostomy.” They will insert a feeding line directly into Sarur’s abdomen in order to get more nutrients in him than they currently are. This should greatly assist with his weight gain and get him to a place where they can operate on his heart. There is much to be encouraged by from today, however we pray that this procedure will speed up the process.

Gaining Weight

Posted on Tue, 01/13/2015 - 23:30 by Ruth Zellweger

Today was a special day for Sarur as he underwent surgery. It was not to repair his heart, but to help him gain weight more quickly. To do this, the doctors inserted a feeding tube directly through the abdominal wall into his stomach.

When Agnes and I arrived at the hospital, Sarur had already been in the operating room for almost two hours. I found his father in the front waiting room. He was emotional, and it was obvious to everyone that he loves his son so very much. Soon after, one of the doctors came out and told us that the surgery was over and that everything had gone well. Sarur's father was relieved. He was allowed to again join his son in the recovery room. Two hours later, Sarur was brought back to the ward. Tomorrow the nurses will start giving him nutrition through this feeding tube.

Sarur has already made so much progress. With each gram of weight that he is gaining, he is looking better and healthier, even though he still has a long way to go. Please continue to pray for our precious Sarur and his amazing father.

Joyful Sight

Posted on Sun, 01/04/2015 - 22:11 by Kristina Kayser

What a joyful sight it was to see Sarur and his father today at Wolfson. Sarur was lying quietly in his bed, with his hands folded softly. While he is still small and fragile, there was a new glimmer of life in him that I had not seen before. Sarur was soaking in his surroundings with wide, bright eyes. And when Julia and I sang him a couple of songs, he calmly gazed at us and listened from start to finish.

His father was cheerful and eager to speak with Julia, Kyle, and I. He has been faithfully caring for his son in the hospital for the past two weeks and still maintains a happy countenance. He truly delights in his son and does not seem swayed by a difficult past and a challenging future! Rather, this father is fully present and thankful for today and all that God is providing. Despite having very few worldly goods to speak of, he shares generously from the little he has. This was demonstrated when he opened a bottle of orange soda and poured a glass for the three of us plus two Gazan mothers in the room as well as Sarur's nurse, Olga. And this was all done with a beautiful smile on his face. He is an amazing example to me of the Scripture that says, "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Messiah Jesus for you" -1 Thessalonians 5:18.

Certainly, we have much to give thanks for what the Lord is doing in Sarur's life. I was able to get an update from Dr. Alona this afternoon that holds much promise. When Sarur first arrived in Israel, he was about 3.5kg (7.7lb). By receiving continuous nutrition through a feeding tube, he is now up to roughly 3.7kg (8.14lb). This is a slow and steady process, but important nonetheless. The cardiology team is hoping Sarur will be ready for heart surgery once he reaches a minimum of 4 kilograms. Would you please pray with us for this sweet baby's further growth and progress? It is a privilege to stand beside this father and son and watch God's love being poured out on them. May our joy and thankfulness increase day by day in His faithfulness!

Devoted Father

Posted on Sun, 12/28/2014 - 20:24 by Brian Mace

It was such a privilege and a joy to be able to drive to Wolfson hospital this afternoon to spend time with precious little Surur and his devoted and kind father. Surur's noisy and difficult breathing has much improved, although he has not yet begun to put on any weight. The hospital has been increasing his feeding by tube, and will be introducing even more supplements, as they continue in reversing his rather severe malnutrition.

I asked his dad how Surur fed at home, and he said that he refused milk, only accepting juice. But as neither of us spoke the other's language, apart from using little dictionaries, there may have been a little misunderstanding between us! But, with our dictionaries, we did enjoy some lengthy conversations, and I certainly will be looking forward to visiting them again.

UPDATE 12/30/2014: Brian writes: "I dropped in to see Sarur twice today in between staying with the Gaza children who were visiting Wolfson Hospital with the Gaza Clinic, and his dad was delighted to tell us that he has been putting on weight for 2 days: about 100 to 150 grammes in total! What a wonderful blesssing, praise God!"

A Season of Miracles

Posted on Tue, 12/23/2014 - 00:28 by Kristina Kayser

It is the season of miracles--the time of year when our Jewish neighbors remember God's powerful deliverance and divine provision during Hanukkah. It is also the time when the body of Messiah celebrates the miracle of the Lord's birth, when God's Word became flesh and dwelt among us. So then, how fitting it is for us to witness yet another miracle now with the timely arrival of baby Sarur. 

Accompanied by his resolutely calm father, Sarur came to Israel in frail form. In addition to having a congenital heart defect, this precious boy also has Down Syndrome. And never have I cared for a child so severely malnourished. I truly believe it is by God's grace alone that Sarur has been sustained until now. Surely, He has great plans for this boy's life. "But what will the doctors at the hospital think tomorrow?" I wondered. We would soon find out. Our team's early arrival to Wolfson Hospital this morning allowed the doctors to begin his initial exams almost right away. I could see concern written on the nurse's face as she carefully checked his vital signs and attached the probes for an electrocardiogram. Sarur handled each test with such courage, despite the discomfort he was feeling. His father, likewise, was ever at Sarur's side. He knows his son so well and speaks to him with delight and deep affection.

While Kyle and Sarur's father went to get some lunch for us, I had some very precious minutes alone with Sarur. Holding him close, I began to pray for God's grace and healing. I also prayed that the doctors would see the value of his life and receive him with compassion. This prayer was answered when Dr. Tamir and Dr. Alona first approached him in the echo department. Dr. Tamir laid his hand gently on Sarur's head and murmured sweet baby talk to him. Then, as Dr. Alona examined his heart via ultrasound, she also spoke softly to him and used very light movements on his chest. 

The results of the exam confirmed that Sarur has a large hole between the upper chambers of his heart, known as an Atrial Septal Defect. This defect is not urgent at the moment, and Sarur's oxygen level sits at around 95%. Nor is this defect the cause of his malnutrition. Dr. Alona explained that the real issue now is finding the source of Sarur's "failure to thrive" and providing the right treatment for proper nutrition. "I haven't seen a child like this in a long time," she remarked. "But I'm not giving up on him. I want to find a way to help him!" I could not have imagined a more beautiful reception for Sarur. 

Before any cardiac treatment can begin, Sarur's nutrition must be managed. Meanwhile, the medical team at Wolfson will continue their search for any further medical issues that may be preventing weight gain. The first step of progress was made by early evening when the nurse inserted a feeding tube through Sarur's nose to his stomach. Through this tube, he will receive continuous feedings and hopefully respond well. 

Sarur's father was so thankful for the care his son received today. He told us, "Sarur cries much less here then he does at home. It's because Israel is so wonderful." I am amazed when I stop to think about what he and his family have been through in the last year or so. This man led his wife and eight children out of war-torn Syria to a refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan where they live in a crowded tent city. He and his wife have waited patiently for almost a year for his son to come to Israel. Now his son is here, desperately weak, but fighting for life. And his face bears the lines of struggle, but also an incomprehensible expression of contentment. This too is a gift from God.

Will you join us in praising God for the miracle of Sarur's life? And will you also intercede on behalf of Sarur as his journey towards healing takes an important step forward. May your own hearts be filled with hope as we look to Messiah, "the King of all our trials born to be our friend."