Shad's Heart Surgery

Northern Iraq

Shad Admitted; Surgery Tomorrow

Posted on Sun, 09/09/2012 - 17:01 by Kelsey Cannon

Shad was admitted to the Wolfson Medical Center today, as he is scheduled for heart surgery early tomorrow morning. When we arrived at the hospital, a lot packed full of creatively parked cars greeted us, hinting at a long and busy day. However, this assumption was false and contrasted with the unusually calm, quiet, and empty interior of the children

Neurological Testing Finished; Shad Released

Posted on Fri, 09/07/2012 - 17:53 by Jesse Tilman

When Yoseph, new volunteer Tabea, and I headed to the Wolfson hospital on Thursday, we went with the happy knowledge that all of our children in the hospital, including Shad, were coming back to Jerusalem that day. And after five days in the hospital for diagnostic testing on his brain, both Shad and his mother had been through a lot. 

For instance, this Wednesday I visited Shad during a particularly difficult blood test. His veins are extremely difficult to work with and I watched as the nurse tried, and failed, to draw blood several times from each hand. All the while Shad was crying, yelling, and trying to thrash his limbs around. His mother was desperately trying to help by holding him down, and sometimes even covering him with her body. When she became too overwhelmed, she would start crying and praying in a hushed voice. When this process ultimately failed, the nurse decided to try and extract blood from his foot. Unfortunately that also proved unsuccessful, and so she decided to take blood through his jugular vein. As she pushed the needle in to his neck, his mother could not help but break down. At this point, the nurses asked me to tell her to step outside. As we drew her away she protested strongly but eventually allowed us to take her to the hallway where my fellow volunteers could comfort her a little. But still hearing the cries of her son she could not help but peek in often. Eventually the nurses procured enough blood, and as soon as it was done she quickly scooped him up and brought him to their room for some much needed rest and quiet.

After all of their ordeals, we were glad to bring these two back for a much needed rest at our building in Jerusalem. Please keep Shad in your prayers as we hope that he will be admitted for surgery early next week.

Shad Hospitalized For Neurological Assessment

Posted on Tue, 09/04/2012 - 20:54 by Kristina Kayser

As days stretch into weeks for Shad and his mum, the strain of waiting intensifies. Shad's mother has already shed many tears and daily expresses her own anxieties coupled with the pressures from family in Kurdistan. "I miss my home, and so does Shad. Please ask the doctor to do the surgery soon!" she pleads. Although the cardiology team has twice scheduled a surgery date for Shad, emergency cases have arisen, thus postponing his operation. While we understand and respect the doctors' decisions, Shad's mother is struggling to do likewise. 

Shad's case is being treated with extra care due to extensive damage in the left hemisphere of his brain. His mother's concern regarding episodes of crying, restlessness, and increased cyanosis were verbalized and directed to the doctors at Wolfson on Sunday. This led to Shad being admitted that afternoon with an EEG (electroencephalography) scheduled the following day. The EEG is a test that records the brain's electrical activity, and in Shad's case, is checking for any abnormal activity, such as seizures. The test produced normal results, praise God. Shad's mother, however, believing this treatment would cause further setback for surgery, burst into tears when the test ended. Fear begets fear, and it hurts to see her carry such a heavy burden.


When I visited Shad and his mother this afternoon, I was pleased to see him full of smiles and playing contentedly. He especially loved dancing along to the Kurdish childrens' songs I sang to him. Afterwards, Shad took a special liking to Hannes, our volunteer from Germany, who intrigued this little boy with funny noises. It was the happiest I've seen Shad in several days. When I acknowledged his pleasant disposition, his mother remarked, "He is happy, but I am not!" I encouraged her to hold onto hope and to praise God for Shad's good attitude. I also shared with her that Shad's surgery may be next week, as soon as Monday. She took heart in this, and I saw the sparkle in her eyes again. Shad is likely to return to Jerusalem tomorrow after being evaluated once more by the neurologist. Please continue to pray for grace and endurance for this mother and son as each day brings them closer to a healed heart!

Still Waiting For Surgery, Shad Discovers The Sea

Posted on Thu, 08/30/2012 - 21:48 by Anna Maria

I had the privilege of accompanying Shad, his mother, and a couple of volunteers to the beach today. Shad and his mother had never experienced the beach, so this trip was unique, to say the least. Shad's mother was amazed and asked many questions about the sand, and its interesting texture. Shad was overwhelmed with joy and grabbed handfuls of sand and threw them in the air in excitement and celebration, unknowingly filling our purses with sand.

To our surprise, he raced to the water, wanting to fully immerse himself into the sparkling waves. Everyone else followed behind chasing after him, and we were all stunned that he showed no fear of the vast unknown! I was encouraged to see joy and laughter coming from Shad's mother, knowing this week had been especially difficult for her; it was revealed that she will be staying in Israel and away from her family longer than we all expected. We are still awaiting a surgery date for Shad.

As we all looked out into the ocean, I was reminded of Psalm 139:17-18, which says: "How precious are your thoughts towards me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand..."

I was comforted knowing that God loves Shad and his mother so much, and is not unaware of what is happening in their lives, but is sovereign and controlling it all. He thinks of them more in number than the sand Shad and his mother discovered today, and I found peace in that truth. I pray that Shad and his mother are filled with that peace as well.

CT Scan Results and the Promise of Surgery

Posted on Thu, 08/09/2012 - 19:05 by Kelsey Cannon

Shad was discharged from the hospital today and brought back to Jerusalem. His CT scan revealed that much of the tissue in the left hemisphere of his brain is softened, or damaged, as a result of the stroke he had when he was young. The scan also revealed that his right internal carotid artery is abnormally narrowed, resulting in a continual restriction of blood supply to his brain. Despite the neurological damage Shad is suffering, his doctors are still wanting to go ahead with surgery. So after a future follow up by the Wolfson pediatric cardiology clinic, Shad will be invited in for heart surgery. Until then, Shad will be waiting here in Jerusalem and we are all grateful for the additional time to get to know him.

Shad's Hospital Tests Continue

Posted on Thu, 08/09/2012 - 10:52 by Donna_Petrel

I had the pleasure of escorting Shad and his mother from Jordan to Israel this past Sunday, and found this little one to be gentle and sweet. He is very bright in spite of the effects of a stroke which Dr. Alona attributed to the way his heart condition affected his body's blood production. This Monday, we traveled together to the Wolfson Medical Center for Shad's first assessment in Israel. He was very good-natured while waiting his turn, and exhibited normal reactions to his preliminary exams. But then it came time to draw blood. This necessary test is always hard on children of all ages, but I can truthfully say that Shad had the worst experience of any I've seen due to the viscosity of his blood and the makeup of his circulatory system. He has veins which are hard to find, and very hard to utilize as gateways for tests or treatment. Several nurses along with his mother and I began the process, and as they did their meticulous work, we did our best to comfort a crying boy. 

After several tries by the head nurse, a doctor was called in. And after several tries by him, another doctor came in to do his best work too. Each entry point of the needle was carefully chosen and although the needle skillfully manipulated, Shad's body refused to yield the precious commodity they sought to examine. As you can guess, Shad's mother was crying by this time too, and needed encouragement herself. At last after a few more "sticks", enough blood filled the test tubes so that the appropriate tests could be conducted. Shad and his mother were both exhausted and sweaty, and greatly relieved when he was allowed to leave the examining table. The next test was his echocardiogram, and Shad was given a mild sedative to keep him calm while his heart was examined. 

It didn't take long for his eyes to close in a deep sleep, and thus the doctors were able to do a long and thorough echo. One of the first comments made restated what Dr. Kirk had written upon examining Shad in Iraq: "poor acoustic windows." Dr. Efat said she'd never seen a heart like his, and searched intensely with the probe for the usual images to appear on the screen. Eventually she was satisfied with the results of her exam and left the images for Dr. Alona to review. There was nothing specific shared about a surgery date because of other concerns evidenced by the rest of Shad's assessment. Dr. Alona said she wanted us to wait for the results of his blood work. She anticipated that he would need additional fluids, and perhaps plasma, since his body's current plasma levels are out of balance. The reasons for this imbalance are most likely due to Shad

Overcoming with Perseverance

Posted on Mon, 08/06/2012 - 15:23 by Jonathan Miles

Nearly-two-year old Shad was a good-natured traveling companion over the last two days enroute from Kurdistan to Jerusalem. He's accompanied by a cheerful, expressive woman--the second wife of his father--who managed to even make the Israeli border guards laugh with her shocked response when they asked if she was carrying a weapon.

A stroke Shad had when he was young seems to have left him with neurological damage resulting in the paralyzation of the right side of his body. But he perseveres in sliding himself along, as you can see in the video below taken at his arrival in Jerusalem, and is able to speak and understand.

Shad's first medical exams in Israel will be Monday morning.

A Heart That Flows Backwards

Posted on Sun, 07/15/2012 - 18:33 by Ryan Gregg

The positioning of the two primary arteries in Shad