Tamara's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Sovereign Over Us

Posted on Thu, 01/26/2017 - 04:17 by Ruth Zellweger

What do we feel and how do we react when we hear about the death of a beloved person? Where do we turn to? Our Shevet communities in Kurdistan and Israel were confronted with these questions this morning after we heard that our precious little friend Tamara had passed away yesterday around noon time. She had bleeding from her mouth and nose and by the time they reached the hospital she died. 

As we processed this news we were thankful to have each other and together we turned in prayer to our heavenly Father, asking for comfort for Tamara's young parents and our own hearts. Even though we do not exactly know or understand what happened, we believe that He knows. He is sovereign, and His ways are perfect.

We will remember Tamara as the vibrant little girl she was, very smart and full of love for life. We also remember fondly the excellent care Tamara received from the doctors and medical staff at Wolfson hospital. Tamara captured our hearts, and we will keep her in loving memory.

Farewell, Tamara

Posted on Wed, 12/28/2016 - 11:12 by Co-authored

This morning I was reading the first of Tamara’s blog entries, and many memories came into my head.

Yesterday we celebrated her farewell with a party at night, along with the Aram's farewell. Inevitably, we felt a mixture of joy and sadness. Joy because Tamara has been a miracle and sadness because with the passing of the days the people who come to our community become our family. ​

Tamara's operation was one with greater risk, but last night we saw her laugh, play, cry, talk, and I know God allowed this so in our daily life we remember everything is a miracle, from the greatest event to the littlest.

My sisters, brothers, and I in Shevet will miss the voice of Tamara running around the house, the classes of English, Kurdish, Arabic, Spanish and German that we shared together, the times we share at dinner, tea time and many other moments Tamara shared with us. She is an adorable and very intelligent girl.

We are happy to know she is healthy enough to returned home, to meet again after more than three months with her family, but above all we are glad to know when Tamara grows she will remember our God has healed her, that merit is not human. In everything we are thankful to the sacrifice of our Messiah Yeshua.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life” -Proverbs 13: 12​



Early yesterday morning Lindsay and I took Tamara and her father, and Aram and his mother, to the airport. It was raining heavily, and once we got to the first checkpoint we were promptly pulled over. The security guard who wanted to check us out kept asking me to pull the van back further and further. When finally I asked him, isn’t this far enough, he said: of course not, I don’t want to stand in the rain! It did mean, however, the check was reasonably quick!

Once we got to the airport, we were directed to a short line for the big security check. To my delight I spotted the daughter of one of our friends at work. She saw me too, and came immediately up to me, hugged and kissed me, and then sorted out their security check in record time. Even including consulting a supervisor because they’re Iraqis.

Then she walked us over to the airline check-in desk and took us right to the front of the line. She was just telling the person in charge there how he should give us priority, when he looked back at me and said: is it for her? That’s ok, I know her. I will help them. We chatted for a bit (I have known him for quite a while now), and then proceeded to authorize Tamara's 3 bags to go in the hold. The check-in lady who had never seen me was in shock and asked: Are you sure? They’re Iraqis you know!! Is security ok with all this? He told her, yes of course, these people are here nearly every week.

It is in these seemingly small things I see God at work every time I do an airport run. May He get all the glory!

We we so happy to hear they arrived safely back to Kurdistan. And they've obviously made close friends: Tamara and her father traveled with Aram and his mother to their house, to then waited for Tamara's uncle to pick them up from there to take them home. I love hearing about these friendships that have starting during families' stay with us. Shevet Achim (brothers together) indeed.


Rejoicing with Tamara

Posted on Mon, 12/26/2016 - 21:41 by Rebekah Yang

Today was a long day for Tamara because she was scheduled for two different examinations - a perfusion test for her lungs as well as her echo follow-up. Both Tamara and her father were very patient as they waited for her perfusion test. I was able to briefly talk with the doctor while she was overseeing the test. She had a hopeful outlook but wasn't able to give us all the details at the moment as we will have to wait for the official results later in the week. 

After the test was finished, we rushed to the echo department for Tamara's final echo.  While we were waiting, Tamara's father asked me about the results of the perfusion test. I told him what the doctor had said and assured him that he should not worry. Instead, we can thank God for His gracious protection for Tamara up to now. He nodded his head and agreed with me.
Since there was a long line in the echo department, Tamara was able to spend some time with different friends from Save a Child's Heart (SACH) as well as play with different toys provided in the waiting room. When it was Tamara's turn for the echo, Dr. Tamir looked carefully at her heart to check for any irregularities. Tamara was not happy during the echo and said several times, in Arabic, finish, finish, finish, hoping the test could soon be over. The doctor very gently repeated after her. Soon, the echo was over and the doctor shared the good news that Tamara could, indeed, go home to Kurdistan. 
Praise God for this wonderful news; all of the waiting was worth it. Tamara's father was overwhelmed and rejoicing in this news and he even bought several chocolates to thank the hospital staff. Please join us in giving thanks to our Father for beloved Tamara and the beautiful healing He has performed. 

A Shining Sun and a Shining Girl

Posted on Tue, 12/20/2016 - 10:50 by Eva Markewitz
Precious Tamara had her follow up yesterday. For the echo, we walked with Aram and his mother in strollers down to the hospital, enjoying the shining December sun.
As we were walking, Tamara was still in a good mood, but as we arrived her smile disappeared and she became grumpy. Despite this, the results of her echo were amazing:; her heart looks very good! Then we went down to get her stitches removed. She also is on one less medication now and her final echo will be next Monday!
She will need a last perfusion test for her lungs in the coming days too. Anyways, back home she was already smiling again.
Praise the Lord for the good work he has done in Tamara's life!

Welcome Back, Tamara!

Posted on Tue, 12/13/2016 - 05:52 by Eva Markewitz
Today, after over 20 days spend in hospital, our beloved Tamara was finally discharged! When Alexa and I first walked into her room, she had just woken up, and then greeted us with a smile. I was so excited that she even could remember my name!
It was a joyful day indeed, both Tamara and her dad were so happy to come home - to our new Jaffa apartment. Actually, she should have been discharged by yesterday, but then she got a fever and had to stay another night. However, this morning, everything was fine. 
After having her echo, Dr. Alona said that she probably just needs two follow-ups until she can return home! There is no fluid in her heart and her lungs work better than before. She does look so much better and talks even more than she did before the procedure.
Now, back here in our community she is a delight for everyone who sees her. We praise God that she recovered so well from surgery! Welcome back little Tamara!


Posted on Tue, 12/06/2016 - 21:09 by Camila Buitrago
It was a beautiful surprise to see Tamara this morning in the ward. This shows us that her recovery is going very well - thanks to God! During our time together we received a visit from a group of police officers who gave us delicious sweets. 
Today Tamara ate more than any other day, and also she asked for Alexa, Sean, and for our puppy Shevie. Tamara always amazes me because she's a very perceptive and smart girl. Throughout the morning when she was talking to her father, she had coughs which made it difficult for her to feel completely well. During the afternoon, Tamara had a bit of a fever, so nurses gave her medicine and then we went to do an echo. After a few minutes, Dr. Alona told us that Tamara's heart is very good, and that we must continue taking care of her lungs.
When we returned to Tamara's room, the nurse gave her inhalation treatment and her father talked with me about the deep joy he is feeling because his little daughter is much better. After all the long waiting they had to do, this is the beautiful result.
Every time we are a little closer to Tamara's return to her home!

Making All Things Beautiful

Posted on Sun, 12/04/2016 - 17:30 by Sean Perez

After about a week in the ICU, wonderful news was reported to us yesterday; Tamara was finally upgraded to the secondary ICU. So, Ruth and I arrived at Wolfson hospital just before noon today, to follow up with her and to see how her improvements are developing. Again, the repair of the holes in her heart was an extremely fragile case because of the bronchoectasis in both of her lungs. Yet we see God kept her and caused those lungs to relentlessly work throughout this entire process.  

When I first walked into the room, Tamara didn't want to say hi. Her dad turned and asked her how she was feeling. And the exact words that came out of her mouth were "not good." We looked at each other and smiled because of Tamara's sincerity and honesty, which is so genuine in coming from this two-year-old. The nurse mentioned how they are still monitoring her lungs, but was very enthusiastic in her explanation of the condition her lungs are presently in. The doctors have her on very little oxygen right now, just 0.5 liter/minute, which means her breathing is thriving quite well at the moment. This added to the optimism the nurse communicated in her report.
Unfortunately, Tamara is not eating very well and we ask you would pray with us, that her appetite would be restored back to her as her body is adjusting to the rigorous effects from the surgery. She also has a cough they are monitoring, but they are anticipating it to subside in a day or so. After that, they will be looking to upgrade her once again, to the children's ward. There, we hope to see the more steps in her healing process before she is able to be discharged from the hospital.  
As God is making all things beautiful in this child's life, we can't help but take a step back and reflect from where this child first began. And give praise to God for His wonderful work, as He has been so faithful and compassionate to us and this family. This relationship we have built together is truly a part of what God is making beautiful between us all. The good news is that at the end, before I left, Tamara was blowing kisses goodbye, like her normal self.


Posted on Wed, 11/30/2016 - 03:59 by Lewis Ingersoll

Lorena and I visited Tamara and her dad today in the Wolfson Medical Center ICU. Dad seemed encouraged by her progress. We were only able to have a couple of short visits with them.

We left when she had to be bathed and the ICU was closed for awhile due to emergency procedures requiring a lot of medical help. We are so thankful for the progress she is making and our prayer is for her continuing to get better every day. And we are thankful for the doctors, nurses, and their many helpers who show love and concern for all the children they serve.


Posted on Tue, 11/29/2016 - 04:41 by Ruth Zellweger

What is impossible with man is possible with God. For many weeks the caring doctors at Wolfson Medical Center had prepared themselves for the expected difficult surgery with low survival chance due to her damaged lungs. Our heavenly Father answered our prayers and that of many friends all over the world and sustained Tamara's life. But not only that: Tamara underwent a bronchoscopy this morning to determine the status of her lungs and how well they are ventilated. The results were good and the doctors proceeded to extubate Tamara. 

By this evening Tamara was already talking and eating. She receives high flow oxygen to keep her lungs open. Her father is rejoicing quietly and his face showed the relief after yesterday's exhausting day. We praise God for His grace and mercy that He been showing Tamara and her family. Thank you for praying with us for a continued and smooth recovery.

Tamara's Surgery Day

Posted on Sun, 11/27/2016 - 21:51 by Lewis Ingersoll

Sean, Ruth, and I left for Wolfson Medical Center around 5:30 am. We went to the children's ward and found Tamara still sleeping. In a short time we were all heading down the hall toward the operating room staging area.
It is there the final name check is made and doctors and nurses quickly read over the medical records. They seem to make sure all signatures are present and every thing is ready to go.
Tamara cried any time she was out of her father's arms, so when the time came Tamara's dad climbed onto the rolling stretcher and, embracing his daughter, they headed off to the operating room. He soon returned and the waiting began. We had been told to expect a six hour operation. It was 2:30 pm before we had a preliminary report the surgery was going well but not yet finished. At 3:30 pm Tamara was wheeled out of the operating room to the elevator and off to the pediatric ICU.
Here is the report the doctor first gave to Ruth, which he then repeated to Tamara's father in Arabic: "They made her huge pulmonary arteries normal size, closed the VSD and put in an artificial pulmonic valve. She is hemodynamically stable. Tomorrow they want to perform a bronchoscopy to see the condition of her lungs."
The doctor was patient and answered all of dad's questions. All in all a very positive report but still much prayer is needed and appreciated. It is all by God's grace!