Sharbel's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

The Aftermath of a Miracle

Posted on Mon, 08/08/2016 - 21:18 by Agnes Bruna

Today our team of Rebekah, Mingyang, Suhail, and I went to the hospital.

As soon as I walked in, I saw Sharbel's mom; she looked very happy to see us. She seemed surprisingly rested as she had the opportunity to spend the night in our Jaffa apartment for a shower and some sleep. She took me straight into the ICU where Sharbel was peacefully sleeping. He has a bit of a fever, probably from the surgery, but the doctors have done a blood test just to make sure he does not have a virus. They are still waiting for the results of this test.
Sharbel's mom and I took the opportunity to pray together, and also to pray over Sharbel. We were so grateful for this opportunity. Sharbel's mom kept telling me that Sharbel's survival is a miracle, and giving all glory to God.
After Suhail and I ran some errands in Jaffa, we came back to the good news that Sharbel's chest was being closed. He had an echo this morning and his heart looks great. The doctors are happy with his progress, so now they felt it was safe to close his chest.
Everyone continues to be amazed at the progress Sharbel is making. We praise God who gives life to this precious little baby. May God continue to bring full healing to Sharbel.

Greatly to be Praised

Posted on Sun, 08/07/2016 - 21:45 by Camille Piche

Bless the LORD, O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

You're rich in love, and You're slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

From the moment I awoke to the end of the afternoon, these words replayed over and over in my heart. Today was surgery day for our precious Sharbel, yet I was immediately and continually reminded of God’s goodness in light of the arduous day ahead. This was no ordinary surgery day. The doctors who had been preparing for this surgery weeks prior, warned Sandra of the extreme risk involved with this complicated procedure. They clearly explained that though they were willing to attempt to save her son’s life, there was a minimal chance of survival through the surgery itself. From the reality of the situation, we could conclude that we desperately needed the gracious presence of God to not only calm and guide the hands of the apprehensive doctors, but to heal Sharbel’s failing heart. When we arrived in the children’s ward, Sharbel was sound asleep. His mother greeted us with a smile and big hugs. Although there was much anticipation, she seemed to be at peace and ready for her son to begin surgery.

Soon after we finished praying over Sharbel, someone arrived to transport him up to the surgical floor. All of us were able to accompany him to a room where many doctors and nurses checked and double checked his charts and prepared him for surgery.

While we were waiting, Sharbel and his mother were able to video chat his father! This moment shared between the family was truly beautiful.

When the time came for Sharbel to move to the operating room, we all crowded the small door frame and watched until Sharbel and surgical team turned the corner out of sight.

The strength of his mother was astounding. I have no doubt this was due to her steadfast trust in the Lord to take care of her son. While sitting in the waiting room, the mother’s faith was evident as she pulled out a small Bible and began reading quietly to herself. The songs lyrics flooded back into my mind along with Psalm 61:1-2, “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Even when her heart was tired and afraid, the mother shifted her eyes from the present physical circumstances and clung to the One who is greater than it all.

After a few hours of sitting and walking around the hospital we made our way to the cafeteria for some lunch. Thinking we would not hear any news about Sharbel and the progress of the surgery for many hours, we slowly ate and enjoyed the conversation. However, as we were nearing the children’s ward after finishing lunch, we were startled by the approaching bustle of bodies who were surrounding a small bed. As we began to step aside to let them pass, we were shocked to see the familiar faces of the doctors we had left just five hours prior. “He’s okay,” one turned and reassured as they wheeled sweet little Sharbel past us and down the hallway towards the ICU. We quickly followed amazed and hardly believing that he was already out of what was expected to be an all day surgery. Sandra tightly hugged each of us and cried tears of joy and relief.

After getting Sharbel situated in the ICU, one of the doctors came back to better explain what happened in the surgery. He told us that even though they initially were planning to replace the aortic valve with the pulmonic valve and then exchange the pulmonic valve with an artificial one, when they opened his chest they realized it was not necessary. Instead, they were able to repair Sharbel’s own aortic valve without any sort of swap. Praise God! Next, he explained that the aorta, which was previously too narrow, therefore further weakening Sharbel’s overworked heart, was successfully widened. Praise God! Finally, he said that Sharbel’s heart is currently able to pump on its own without any help from the ECMO machine. Praise God! Although this is miraculous news, the doctor reminded us that these next 24-48 hours are crucial for Sharbel and his heart. We are so thankful to have such a wonderful and skilled medical team at Wolfson hospital watching over and monitoring Sharbel.

Sharbel is our little miracle today and we are overflowing with thankfulness and praise to our Heavenly Father. But please continue to join us in prayer as we lift up Sharbel, his mother and the doctors. Pray that his heart continues to work on its own and does not grow tired. Pray for a smooth recovery and complete healing for his heart. Perhaps most importantly, pray that the doctors are all able to see the merciful hand of God moving in and through the surgery and life of Sharbel. Let us also pray for strength and rest as the medical team continues to do the incredible work that they have dedicated their lives to. As I reflect on today and see how the Lord proved his power through providing more than we could ever ask or think, I see my own heart being restored. He is faithful, He is good, He is to be praised!


Posted on Wed, 08/03/2016 - 20:58 by Olivier Bareaud

This morning, our team from Shevet Achim left Jerusalem in the direction of Wolfon hospital in Tel Aviv. I spent my day with Sharbel and his mother to support them as best as I could. Sharbel was supposed to get his heart surgery tomorrow. During Sharbel blood test, it was good to see how professional the nurses were with him. After the blood test, we came back to their room.

The father of a young boy, who was in the hospital for an infection, came to ask to me some questions about the reason of Sharbel's admission at the hospital. I found out his wife was originally from Kurdistan. She came and spent some time talking to Sharbel's mother. The father was very curious about the reason of my presence with Sharbel, so I talked about Shevet Achim and the way we serve God.

After this event Sharbel, his mother, and I went to x-ray. On our way back, we met a good friend, from the U.S., of Sharbel's mother. It was a great comfort for Sharbel's mother to have a friend visiting her at the hospital. They spent some time talking and laughing together. They took some photos with Sharbel too, who is always willing to smile in any situations.

Finally, after some time together in the room, the doctor came to visit Sharbel. Sharbel has been fighting a diaper rash for some days. The doctor was upset to see he still had the rash. Once the doctor left, we decided to spend some time in prayer for Sharbel. After some time, the doctor came back to announce he decided to move the surgery to Sunday. He does not want to take any extra risk for Sharbel, he already face a very high risk surgery. So, he decided to keep Sharbel at the hospital on antibiotics. Please join us in praying these antiobiotics will clear up Sharbel's rash and God's perfect timing will unfold for Sharbel's surgery.

Pre-op Echo

Posted on Mon, 08/01/2016 - 14:42 by Alexa Bigl

Sharbel and Mom headed to Wolfson today for an echo.

The doctors wanted to see the contraction force of his left ventricle, if it had improved any with being on his special medication, digoxin.

They also wanted to take another look at his aortic and pulmonic valves. To treat Sharbel's aortic stenosis, they hope to switch his pulmonic valve over to the left side of his heart and make it into his aortic valve. It's truly amazing what modern science allows us to do! 

The echo showed Sharbel's left ventricular contraction force remains the same. We are praying for surgery in the very near future. The doctors spoke to us, once again, about the risks associated with Sharbel's sugery. Even if the valve switch goes perfectly, Sharbel's severely dilated left ventricle may never return to a normal size. Additionally, they reminded us of the immediate risk that Sharbel's heart may not restart as they take him off the surgical bypass machine.

These reminders thrust us into remembering all these children, Sharbel included, can truly be healed only by the hand of God. We lift up Sharbel to our Heavenly Father, we ask for His healing touch! Please join us in prayer, especially as Sharbel's operation day draws near.

Tour Day

Posted on Thu, 07/28/2016 - 20:40 by Mingyang Li

Yesterday, Suhail drove both Roshna and Sharbel’s family to the Mount of Olives. This is a tour we had been waiting for a long time to go on, so both parents and the children were very excited.

The first stop was the mountaintop. It was so amazing overlooking all of Jerusalem from the peak. Even though the temperature was high, all of us enjoyed the delightful scene. Then, Suhail began to tell parents the history of Jesus. From the parents’ facial expression, I could tell they listened to the story very intently. 

Sharbel did not wake up until we went to the Garden of Gethsemane. Gethsemane is the place where Jesus said his last prayer before He was arrested. Built around a stone where Jesus is said to have prayed in the garden, there is a brilliant church. We went into that church, and I saw Sharbel’s mother hold him tightly and kept praying for him. I was moved at that time, and I prayed in my heart too. Please join our prayer for Sharbel, that God will cure him by His almighty hands, and also for Sharbel’s mother, that God would give her strength and confidence. 

The last destination was Peter's church. After we viewed the upstairs place, we went downstairs and stayed in that church for a while. Sharbel was really quiet during that time, taking it all in. Though the tour time was now over, Sharbel’s mother was very happy because she learned many things about Jesus from Suhail. Plus, Suhail is an excellent tour guide. Today was a real blessing, and I hope we will have even more chances to retrace the steps of the Lord together.

Slow and Steady

Posted on Mon, 07/11/2016 - 20:58 by Basye Peek

Today was our second time to Wolfson for weekly blood tests and check-ups for sweet little Sharbel. While we originally thought he would have an echo today, he ended up just needing a blood test. After waiting for the other kids to finish up with their echos, we headed to the children's ward to get Sharbel's blood drawn. Of course, Sharbel was none too happy about his exams. Nonetheless, he stuck it out and we were all glad to finish them up.

We waited in Wolfson to receive the results of Sharbel's blood test, walking around and even taking time to do some of the shopping Sharbel's mother needed before returning to Jaffa.  His results came back this afternoon and everything looks the same, which is a good sign he has remained stable on his new medications.
Please continue to lift up Sharbel and his mother in your prayers for perseverance and strength! 

A Time for Prayer

Posted on Tue, 07/05/2016 - 20:40 by Basye Peek
This morning our Jaffa team accompanied Sharbel and his mother to Wolfson for their consultation with Dr.Tamir. Sharbel and his mother have been a part of our small community for only a week, and yet they have become members of our family. We love to laugh together, joking about this and that, and have so enjoyed Sharbel's mothers' presence in our morning meetings. As we drove to the hospital this morning, there was a weight on all of our shoulders. We were going to hear the doctors decision on the potential risky surgery for Sharbel.
The doctor's were right on time for our meeting, and welcomed Ruth and Sharbel's mother into the office to discuss the details of Sharbel's condition and the potential surgery. Meanwhile, Sharbel giggled and played just outside. It is hard to believe that a little boy with such a beautiful smile and a curious spirit could be so sick. However, just behind the door of the office the doctors were very clear- Sharbel is incredibly ill. 
Essentially, Sharbel is in heart failure, and in his present state, his heart will not be able to continue over-working for very much longer. While there is little chance that not treating Sharbel's condition will result in his healing, the option of surgery is similarly daunting. Dr. Tamir was patient and thorough in his explanation of the surgery's risks and potential outcomes. While there is hope that this surgery would open the door for Sharbel to live a long, happy life, it is a surgery with a great deal of risk. The medical team understands from literature and experience that the chances of this surgery being successful are low, and asked Sharbel's mother to carefully consider the risks before deciding whether or not Sharbel will receive surgery. Similarly, the Wolfson team will continue to decide whether they are willing or able to provide this surgery in the coming weeks.
Precious Sharbel and his sweet mother need our prayers greatly. Their situation is a particularly difficult one, and in this time of trial, we ask that you join us in praying for wisdom, discernment, and courage for Sharbel's mother and the medical team at Wolfson. Please also join us in praying for Sharbel's complete healing- our God is the great healer and we believe that a miracle can be worked in Sharbel's heart. 

Sharbel Joins the Jaffa Community

Posted on Thu, 06/30/2016 - 21:35 by Ruth Zellweger

Sharbel was monitored last night at Wolfson hospital because of a new medication. The night was uneventful and the doctors felt comfortable in the morning to have him stay with Shevet. However, after some discussion we decided it might be better for Sharbel to stay closer to the hospital, which is now possible because of our new apartment in Jaffa. Dr. Tamir confirmed this decision later. 

Valentina, Basye, and I went to the hospital in the afternoon to pick up mother and son. They were basically sitting on packed bags and were ready to go. We took them on the five minute ride and welcomed the first family to stay with us in our home. Later we went on a short beach outing and introduced Sharbel to the sea. He still has potential in developing more excitement for the water. 

The medical team at Wolfson wants to see Sharbel again on Monday to check him and to see if the new medication had any effect on his heart. We ask you to intercede for this precious little boy and his lovely young mother. Even though Sharbel doesn't look like it, he is very sick and needs God's healing touch. Thank you for praying with us.


Sharbel's First Night at Wolfson

Posted on Wed, 06/29/2016 - 18:30 by Valentina Jaimes Vargas
Sharbel is our new eight-month-old baby, and  we are really glad to have this little baby and his mother in our community.
Today, Sharbel went to the Wolfson hospital for his examination that includes having some changes to his medication. He was admitted to the hospital for observation, at least for one night. So, Sharbel and his mom are going to have their first night at the hospital as they are taking their first steps in their Israel journey.
Today we spent a really good time getting to know more about this baby and his mom. She is a really lovely mother and is a smart women as well. She told us about her family and that this is not Sharbel's first surgery. It was beautiful how she opened her heart and let us see her concern. However, this woman praises God for the miracle of the life of her son. And at the end, we had a really beautiful time supporting this mother during the new step in Sharbel's life.
Sharble is a such a cute baby. He doesn't know us very well so he is a little bit afraid of us. After a while, though, he was doing really well with all of us. Also, we realized he enjoys worship and that it is one of the things that comfort him when is crying. I praise God because this shows me that God´s healing hand will continue to be over this baby while bringing peace to his soul.
We are thankful to God because His mercies with this family are new all the days. I pray that during this process, Sharbel's mother seeks Him first, and also we give God this new step in Sharbel's life with this new medication and his first night at the hospital. 

Exams With a Side of Tests

Posted on Mon, 06/27/2016 - 18:11 by Alexa Bigl

Eight-month-old Sharbel had his initial examination and tests completed today. We arrived early to the hospital and soon had Sharbel right in the thick of a typical, crazy day at Wolfson. While we had periods of long waits between the many tests, the day went very well. 

Sharbel loves to put anything and everything into his mouth, and he was most upset when he wasn't allowed to chew on wires. Of course, the blood draw and ppd test also brought cries forth, but Sharbel's mom did a wonderful job comforting and encouraging him to be calm. She even managed to keep him sleeping through the long echo without Sharbel needing to receive sedation medication. 

His mom, in fact, remained a trooper throughout the day. Her impressive language skills helped her understand everything that was going on; she speaks Assyrian, Sorani, Bedhini, Arabic, and English! Wow- that is truly a gift from God. 

Sharbel has undergone two balloon catheterizations in Jordan, and tomorrow the doctors will review the reports and recordings of them. Once the doctors have a chance to do that, they will decide the best course of action for Sharbel. 

Please join us in praying for Sharbel. The contraction, or pumping, force of his heart is very weak. We are praying God strengthens his cardiac muscle. We also pray for wisdom for the doctors as big responsibilities continue to fall on their shoulders while they decide the action course for Sharbel. Lastly, we pray Sharbel and his mother easily adapt to our Shevet family and quickly become members of it!