Tamara's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Approaching Surgery

Posted on Fri, 11/25/2016 - 15:41 by Ruth Zellweger

This whole past week there have not been any surgeries performed at Wolfson hospital due to the repair of the ICU. During that time Tamara could recuperate from her lingering cough. When Sophie and I visited her yesterday, she was doing so much better compared to the beginning of the week. Today, she joyfully welcomed Aram and his mother, who was admitted for surgery either Sunday or Monday. Tamara is back to her old self and blesses everyone she comes in contact with.

Her father seemed at peace and is awaiting the surgery on Sunday.

Please continue to pray with us for God's prevailing peace in the hospital and during surgery. May His will be done in Tamara's life and may He be glorified through everything that is happening.

In His Perfect Time

Posted on Sun, 11/20/2016 - 20:01 by Ruth Zellweger

The day that was to be Tamara's big surgery day took a surprising twist this morning. After confirming with the ward that Tamara was still on schedule for surgery today, Sean and I left Jerusalem early in order to be at the hospital before Tamara was taken down to the operation room. When we entered the ward we found little Tamara peacefully sleeping, her father at her bedside. While the father and Sean were softly chatting, I took the seat beside Tamara's bed. 

After about an hour, when I had already thought to myself that Tamara would be taken down quite late, Dr. Alona entered the room and announced that there wouldn't be a surgery today. The reason was an interesting one: The ceiling in the ICU was leaking and needed repair, and so all children already in there were evacuated to the secondary ICU. Without space in the ICU there couldn't be any surgery. I looked to the father trying to understand how he felt about the whole situation. I was surprised to see him relaxed and smiling. Even though he had waited for the surgery for such a long time, he also knew that Tamara was not feeling as well as she should, with a cough still lingering. So he was thankful and pointed upwards, exclaiming that God is in control. He also agreed that Tamara's life is completely in God's hands, and no one - not even the most skilled surgeons and medical staff - can save her life if it is not by His grace. 

We continued to keep them company for a little bit longer. During that time Tamara made a new friend from Ethiopia who had only recently arrived for her medical treatment. Just as we wanted to leave, Tamara was called for a check up by the ENT doctor. While there in the waiting room, she quickly won the favor of other people waiting there. By the time we had completed the check, she had received several high fives and a balloon. 

We are waiting now to hear if her surgery will be tomorrow or another day this week. According to one of the surgeons, Tamara is the first on the list for surgery this week. Please continue to entrust the life of that precious girl into the hands of our heavenly Father. While we only see a small piece, He sees the whole picture and to Him the ceiling issue in the ICU is not random. May Tamara's little lungs be strengthened during this additional time of waiting, and may God's glory be revealed through everything that is happening.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."  Ecclesiastes 3:11

Speak Life

Posted on Fri, 11/18/2016 - 01:49 by Sean Perez

Today sister Ruth and I drove the families of Tamara, Bilind, and Aram to Wolfson hospital for a couple of different assessments. For the last couple days, Tamara has had a pretty bad cough, that seems to be uninvitedly lingering around. Since her surgery is scheduled for this Sunday, we decided to take her into the hospital to see if the doctors might want to assess her more in depth before the procedure. The doctors were in full agreement and decided to admit her for further observation, since her procedure is that high of a risk.  

They mentioned how a cough and a runny nose have almost been the baseline of Tamara's signs and symptoms, but it is certainly worse than normal. So, they want to take as many necessary precautions to monitor her condition in preparation for the procedure. There is a good possibilty that she might not be able to physically withstand the rigors of this procedure. So, we ask if you would join us in praying for wisdom for the doctors to determine whether or not this is the correct time to do her surgery.  

Today they ordered some urine samples and are going to be drawing more blood in the days to come, leading up to Sunday. According to Romans 4:17, if there is one thing God is in the business of doing, "He is the God who gives life to the dead, and calls those things that are not, as though they were."  In Tamara's case, we ask that God would speak life over her and turn this around for His glory.

Another Big Testing Day for Tamara

Posted on Sun, 11/06/2016 - 18:40 by Rebekah Yang

This morning we left early to head to the hospital for Tamara's perfusion test, to examine the blood flow in her lungs. When we arrived at the hospital, we were asked to wait in the children's ward. Once everything was ready, the physician took us to the examination room. 

The doctors chose not to sedate her for the test so it took a bit longer than normal as Tamara was very scared.

Before we left, the technician informed us the results will be sent to the doctor. We came back to the children's ward and Tamara enjoyed her late breakfast and waited patiently to be seen by another doctor. The doctor was concerned about Tamara's runny nose and coughing and how it may affect her surgery. She did a thorough exam of both her ears and tonsils to make sure everything is alright. After she was finished, Tamara was free to come back to Jerusalem with us.

Please remember our cute Tamara and her father in your prayers as they wait for her upcoming heart surgery. May God's grace surround and strengthen Tamara and her father, in Messiah's name, amen. 

CT Scan Day

Posted on Wed, 11/02/2016 - 22:59 by Rebekah Yang

This morning Camila, Suhail, and I left early for Tamara's CT scan. Upon our arrival, we saw Tamara and her father were standing in front of the nurses' station ready to go to the CT room for her CT examination.

Due to Tamara's pulmonary hypertension, the medical staff overseeing her treatment are hoping to get clearer information about physical condition through this scan. This will help them make better decisions about how proceed with her care. Tamara was wheeled to the CT room before 9 am. The CT doctor gave a little dose of sedation medicine in order to help Tamara sleep about 10 minutes  - enough to finish her CT scan.

Afterwards for safety reasons, Tamara was wheeled to a post-surgery recovery room for half an hour of monitoring and observation there. 

Praise God, Tamara awoke right after she arrived and hasn't had any problems at all. At 10:10 am Tamara was taken back to the children's ward for her late breakfast and continued  to be under observation. Tamara then enjoyed a bit of time in the ward and outside at a little playground.

We headed back to Jerusalem after lunch. Tamara was so excited to hold her blue balloon, saying "tamam, tamam" (which means "all good" in Turkish/Arabic).

Once again, thank you for your prayers of support for both Tamara and her father. May our God's light shine onto them both.

Taking Steps

Posted on Tue, 11/01/2016 - 17:31 by Alexa Bigl

Tamara and her father have been enjoying this past week in Jerusalem. Tamara's father had an opportunity to tour the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with Suhail yesterday and enjoyed himself very much. We are loving having Tamara's fun, energetic self around! Also, the calming presence of her father has been a true blessing to Shevet. 

Today, we headed to Wolfson with Tamara and her dad for a preparatory admission. Tomorrow, Tamara will have a CT scan. This test will give us a better picture of Tamara's pulmonary situation. The doctors are very concerned with the state of Tamara's lungs, and we pray this scan will give them valuable information. We continue to lift up Tamara's situation to the ultimate healer, God. Lord, we pray for your miraculous touch to come upon Tamara and heal her!

Please join with us in praying for this special little girl.

Jealous For Her

Posted on Wed, 10/26/2016 - 20:32 by Sean Perez

Today at Wolfson hospital, Tamara's bronchoscopy was canceled because the doctors feel it is too high of a risk due to her lung complications. Therefore, they ordered a CT (a less invasive type of test) of her chest next week, where they will be trying to take a closer look at the airways in her lungs, to help them better prepare for her procedure. Since Tamara is potentially facing a very high risk procedure with her surgery, we are putting out a call to arms, for watchmen on the wall to pray and interecede on Tamara's behalf.    

In Zecharaiah 8:2-3, the Lord promises to bless Jerusalem and He will return to her and dwell upon her mountain. Out of His own mouth He speaks of how He is so jealous for Zion, and He burns with a holy passion for her. After reading this, a question arises within my heart, "do you have a flame that burns with jealousy for Tamara, to see the Lord dwell in her midst, like He promised to dwell in Jerusalem?" If so, join with us in prayer as we ask God to remove all these mountains and bring His resurrection power into her life!

Born to be Alive

Posted on Tue, 10/25/2016 - 20:15 by Deborah Burke

If ever there was a two and a half year old who was "born to be alive" it would be Tamara who, despite her rather bleak prognosis, is a whirlwind of activity. She loves life and embraces it to the maximum every day with an energy and vitality that is surprising given her medical issues.

Today we took her to the hospital for an overnight admission for a bronchoscopy tomorrow. This is a workup towards the very risky surgery that her parents have agreed to have done. While her heart repair is possibly quite routine, her pulmonary repair is considered to be close to impossible. But isn't our God the god of miracles? Didn't He give His Son the authority to give life to those He wants? Last night Tamara's father agreed for us to lay hands on his daughter to pray for the supernatural healing of her lungs. In reality, it is only God who can restore them. This is a prayer we hope you will continue with us.

This little girl wins hearts wherever she walks. After having a previous admission for pneumonia, Tamara seems to know exactly what's going on in the hospital. Her admission was a prolonged affair mainly because there was no bed available until after lunch. So there she was in the playground on the equipment, chasing birds, stopping only for drinks of water and lunch. When we left the hospital late this afternoon there she was socialising, playing with her balloon, colouring, and always tugging at someone's hand, angling to go outside to play. People's faces light up whenever they see her.

Please pray God's will be done in Tamara's life, that the enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy does not have his way but that our God of miracles, who raises people from the dead, gives this child the opportunity to continue to bring joy into the lives of others.

Sadness That is Used by God

Posted on Wed, 10/19/2016 - 00:49 by Deborah Burke

This morning our Jaffa community had an early call to take Tamara to the hospital. The purpose was unclear but it was thought perhaps to have a consultation with her father about Tamara's surgery.

Once at the hospital we didn't have to wait too long before Tamara's father was called to have a consultation with Dr Tamir. The little room was packed with 2 doctors, a translator, 3 nurses, Tamara's father and myself. Dr Tamir carefully explained the physiology of heart and lungs and then the heartbreaking news of Tamara's condition. This energetic, vibrant, smart, fun-loving and beautiful child, who has captured all of our hearts, has both tetralogy of fallot and a lung condition known as bronchiectasis which is a disease in which there is permanent enlargement of parts of the airways of the lung. It is usually found in adults, not so often in children who do not have cystic fibrosis, and rarely in children with a heart defect as well. Tamara has the disease in both lungs. Her left lung is almost non-functional. Any infection of the lung could kill her. Tears just unashamedly trickled down my face as Dr Tamir outlined the prognosis. In short, it is bleak. I felt shell-shocked, as though this child was mine. I can only imagine how large the mountain seemed for Tamara's father who is now faced, after consultation with his wife, the decision of whether to pursue this very high risk surgery or just allow the disease to take its course. The doctor was gently candid in saying that he had never seen such a case as this and that she would not survive long without surgery but surgery is so risky because it has never been done before on a child so young and Tamara may not even survive it. Even after surgery this child who arrived seemingly happy and reasonably healthy could return home a very sick child and after a prolonged hospitalisation.

All of us in the room exchanged looks indicating the pain we felt except Tamara's father who so bravely fought back tears and asked questions but later was visibly stunned by the news.

This morning our little community of workers explored 2 Corinthians 7. In verse 10 Paul writes, "the sadness that is used by God brings a change of heart that leads to salvation..."

This, then, is an urgent prayer request that the Lord God who created this little girl uses her heartbreaking situation as a catalyst for us to deeply seek His face, to give her parents wisdom and peace about whatever decision they make, and that the sadness be used by God to bring salvation according to His will.

Right Off His Own Tray

Posted on Sun, 10/09/2016 - 21:48 by Sean Perez

We were worshipping at the beach this morning and right when we started the first song, the phone rang and it was one of the doctor's from Wolfson hospital. To our surprise the doctor asked if we could bring Tamara into the hospital at 9:00 am for a Ventilation Perfusion. We looked at each other and thought: it's about 8:30 and the fathers and their kids are probably still asleep or just now beginning to eat breakfast. So, Ruth quickly called Tamara's father to see if she had eat breakfast, because she needed to be N.P.O. (having nothing to eat by mouth) for this particular procedure. Dad said she had just eaten half a mandarin, so we immediately called the doctor back and the doctor said not to worry, that we should still come in (it was only going to delay the exam a little bit). So, the fathers began to get their children ready and we all began our journey from worship to Wolfson together.      

The procedure itself was a two part exam, that finally got started around 11:00 am. The second part of the exam didn't begin until about 2:00, so unfortunately this also pushed back how long it would be until Tamara could eat lunch. It was so sad to see her crying about how hungry she was, but at the same time so cute to see her and dad embracing one another throughout.  Dad was working so lovingly and diligently to comfort her as Tamara was also a little scared of the whole process (as you could only imagine for a two year-old). 

The exam went well (as expected), and now we are awaiting the results that will show us how well Tamara's lungs are functioning.  Finally, she was able to calm down and quiet her heart once again, and there was that precious smile back on her face.  Afterwards, I went to the courtyard and there was dad and Tamara together, sharing lunch with each other, as dad was feeding her right off of his own tray.