Seraj's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

A Much-Anticipated Day

Posted on Wed, 03/08/2017 - 23:09 by Paul Gerstmann

Today Alexa and I made our way to Wolfson for the much-anticipated surgery of Seraj. Seraj and his father both seemed to be glowing upon our arrival, and for good reason. Seraj's operation has been delayed multiple times due to various circumstances, but his father has been very patient and amiable throughout the wait. By faith we accept God does all things in his time for only loving reasons.

Our time in the waiting room was spent with many distractions aimed at Seraj, for he had not eaten since two that morning and was obviously hungry. Wonderfully, Seraj was all smiles during the wait and barely let out a cry.

The nurses thought it necessary to bring Seraj and his father into the opreating room, though I think his father would have had it no other way (what a Dad). He was very emotional during the operation, and it seemed to be all the anticipation mixed with love coming to a head.

My time with Seraj's father contained the inevitable nervous pacing, but also many earnest prayers. I always feel such admiration when beholding such love and concern. I really felt a kinship with Seraj's father in those moments. After much nail biting, Alexa was given the thumbs up on Seraj's release from surgery. The doctors said everything went according to plan and he is in stable condition.

They are hopeful for extubation tomorrow, and his oxygen saturation is now 100% - up from 60%. As usual, the doctors and nurses have done a magnificent job at Wolfson, but throughout it all and in the end, all glory unto God.


Seraj Admitted for Surgery

Posted on Mon, 03/06/2017 - 23:02 by Camila Buitrago
Today we were with Alexa in the hospital for Zakariya and Nyan's echos, but we were also there for baby Seraj who was admitted today for his surgery.
We have been waiting patiently for this day, and Seraj's father has waited longer than anyone.
Doctors confirmed to us today that the surgery will be performed on Wednesday. Seraj's father was a bit stressed because he expected the procedure to be performed tomorrow.
During the medical examination Seraj cried a lot, and although his father was a little frustrated, he was also sympathetic.
The infection Seraj has in his eyes is getting better. Now we will continue praying and waiting for the day of his surgery to arrive.
Every day we feel closer to seeing a beautiful miracle in the life of Seraj and his family. We ask you to continue to support us and pray for Seraj's father and his family.

No Surgery Yet

Posted on Tue, 02/28/2017 - 21:55 by John Barancik

After an exhausting three days, Seraj was discharged today. However, he was discharged with no surgery due to an infection in his left eye.

Seraj was admitted Sunday afternoon. He had lots of fun playing on slides and enjoyed a yummy dinner. 

Monday Seraj had to fast, leading up to the surgery scheduled for today. This made him quite cranky,which was hard for his very tired poppa.

Surgery was scheduled for early morning today. Seraj made a new friend while waiting for clearance to go ahead with surgery.

But alas, the surgery was not part of the plan for today. Seraj will return to the hospital on Thursday.

Please pray for the infection in Seraj's eye, and that his surgery will take place soon. Also keep his father in your prayers, because his patience is truly being tested.


Delayed by Fever

Posted on Sun, 02/26/2017 - 22:16 by Alexa Bigl

John and I headed to Wolfson today with Seraj and his father for admission. Seraj was scheduled for surgery tomorrow and was called in for the typical preparatory day and night at the hospital. When we arrived the nurses were very busy, but soon had a bed ready for Seraj and his dad. They walked around the hospital a bit with Zakariya's father to help calm Seraj, who was quite upset about being in the hospital. Seraj had a fever, but some Tylenol took care of it and he had been feeling well last night and this morning. Eventually the nurses called us back to get Seraj's vital signs, but unfortunately the temperature had sprung up again, and the nurses' thermometer showed a low grade fever. 

The nurses continued the admission processes, but the head nurse soon told me they doubted the surgery would still happen tomorrow because of the fever. There was some more back and forth this evening, but I just got final word there will not be surgery in the morning for Seraj. We hope to find out tomorrow if he will stay admitted in order to have his surgery in the next couple of days, or if he will need to return home and find a new slot on the surgical schedule. 
Seraj's father is staying upbeat. He has called us a couple of times on the phone to let us know Seraj is still feeling well and he hopes the surgery will still be soon. We will be praying for patience and timing, and ask you to join us in these prayers. 

A Time for Everything

Posted on Wed, 02/22/2017 - 23:08 by Ruth Zellweger

"There is an appointed time for everything, and there is a time for every event under heaven... A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance."  (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4)

These past three weeks have not been easy for Seraj's father. He arrived with three other families, and during that time two of the children have undergone open-heart surgery and are recovering in our Jaffa home. The third child, Mohammed, was sent back to Kurdistan without any treatment. And though we hoped for a quick surgery for little Seraj, the father of the head surgeon passed away, and for the past two weeks there have not been any surgeries at Wolfson hospital. His family back in Kurdistan is depending heavily on him to provide for their daily needs. A daughter of one his friends passed away unexpectedly during a dental procedure, and his mother was admitted to the hospital yesterday for high blood pressure. Many things have been tearing him down, wanting him to give up, wanting to leave without surgery for his son. There have been times of tears and mourning. 

But there have also been other times - moments of joy, laughter, friendship, and good conversations. Times that shows us his silly side. Times when he is delighting in his son. Time spent with the other fathers. Even times when he is cooking for all of us, as happened today. And, man, was it delicious! 

While this waiting is challenging, it is also beautiful, as it helps us get to know each other better. Little Seraj is very comfortable around our Shevet volunteers and is usually happy. Of course he needs surgical intervention - his blue skin color makes that apparent - but our heavenly Father has sustained him until today, and we praise Him for that. 

As we are waiting and praying for Seraj's surgery, we trust in God's perfect timing. We pray that Seraj's father will be strenghtened and that he will not lose heart. He has come so far, and by God's grace he will see his son with a mended heart and beautiful skin coloring. May the time to dance soon come.

Out of the Hospital

Posted on Fri, 02/03/2017 - 21:31 by Paul Gerstmann

Yesterday Alexa and I dropped off three families at Wolfson hospital for check-up echos. Upon our arrival we received the good news of Seraj's discharge. Seraj's CT scan looked good, and Dr. Alona said there were no issues related to his low oxygen.

Seraj and his father were in good spirits upon leaving the hospital and settled in well with the other families at Shevet in Jaffa.

A Rough Start

Posted on Tue, 01/31/2017 - 03:58 by Ruth Zellweger

Precious Seraj arrived this morning at the airport in Tel Aviv, after we had already waited for him for several months.

Until a few days ago we were not sure if he would be able to come. I am so glad he did, accompanied by his young father. 

At first sight it is obvious that Seraj is in need of medical intervention urgently. He looks so blue. And during the blood test it was impossible for the doctor to draw venous blood because it was so thick. As a consequence it was decided that Seraj would be admitted overnight to receive fluids. As there also wasn't time today for a thorough echocardiogram, the cardiologists plan on doing it in the morning. 

Both father and son were very exhausted from the long travel and hospital visit. I was deeply touched by the gentle and sweet spirit of the father, who silently wept when his son was in discomfort or in pain. Once the tests for today were done, Seraj had his bottle of milk and soon feel asleep. 

As they settle for their first night in Israel and in the hospital I pray that they will find true rest and that peace would surround them.