Yaser's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Bracelet Making Fun

Posted on Mon, 06/22/2015 - 00:05 by Sophie

When we got to Yaser's house, I was so surprised that Yaser has so many cousins, ten of them. That is amazing to see how they love each other! In this building there are three families living together, sharing life together, and eating together. We also had the chance to enjoy the lunch with them together .

After lunch I started to teach them how to make bracelets. All of them were excited and interested. The youngest girl, just over two years old, was very patient to learn and wait for her turn. I was so amazed by her gentle spirit.

Yaser, also a young child, was so excited when he learned how to start a bracelet and was shouting to his mother: I can do it! He really enjoyed this activity and seeing the bracelet getting longer and longer!



When the bracelet was done, he could not wait to show me . You could see how satisfied he is!

Before we left we were a little bit worried about communication with them. All the worries was gone, they opened their house to embrace us and gave us a tour! Even they did not know us, through Yaser's father they all accepted and trusted us! How wonderful it is! Please keep praying for them. May God keep working inside of them, and show himself to them especially in Ramadan!



Visit to Yaser's Family at Home

Posted on Wed, 10/30/2013 - 20:19 by John and Miriam
Just outside Yaser’s front door is a barren landscape that stretches out for miles towards the Iraqi-Syrian border. But inside Yaser’s home there was an oasis of happiness and gratitude. Yaser’s parents are very devout in their faith. In some Iraqi families, the women never travel outside the house without another family member with them. So, in Yaser’s case, we ended up sending his father with him. The last time John saw Yaser’s mother, she was very worried about her son. This time, Yaser's mother and grandmother beamed with happy smiles. Yaser’s grandmother told Miriam how Yaser’s mom was unable to have children for the first seven years of marriage, which made her and her family all the more appreciative that their boy received a new lease on life.
Two year old Yaser did not mind sharing his “ducky” with our daughter (right of Yaser). Any yellow looking bird, including Yaser’s plastic chicken, she calls a “ducky.” Yaser’s father reported that his son goes around saying, “Ka Sonia? Ka Sofi?” — “Where’s Sonia? Where’s Sophie?” — two volunteer workers with Shevet Achim. Apparently, someone misses all the attention he received from his friends back in Jerusalem.
Yaser’s father and grandfather (on the far right) posed for a picture. Yaser’s grandfather may look serious for photos, but he was very friendly.
During lunch, Yaser’s grandfather kept piling meat on John’s plate whenever it would get empty. Of course, Yaser’s grandmother did the same for Miriam, and John had to help her finish her plate too. The family made certain that rules of hospitality were enforced ― a guest must never leave hungry. In a culture that prides itself on setting high standards for hospitality, Yaser’s father gave Jonathan's wife a big complement. He praised her for her kindness while he and Yaser were staying at their home in Jordan. In the morning, she would get up before the crack of dawn to prepare him breakfast before his early morning prayer. He was very impressed.
In the picture above, Yaser and his older brother (far left) sit with their two cousins (on the right). Now that Yaser’s heart is working better, he may have some catching up to do in terms of his growth. He is, however, enjoying the immediate benefits of his improved health. Both Yaser’s father and grandmother mentioned how Yaser couldn't walk across the room without stoping to catch his breath. Now he freely comes and goes as he likes without stopping or turning blue.
As we were leaving, Yaser’s family unexpectedly showered us with gifts for our daughter. We made a futile effort at telling them that this was unnecessary. Their insistence was another way for them to say “Supas!” — “Thank You!” — not just to us but to everyone involved in helping Yaser. For them, it was just a small token of appreciation for receiving the amazing gift of medical intervention and all around care. After two years of uncertainty, their boy’s heart is finally fixed!
Typically, the Kurds would reply to someone giving thanks with an idiomatic expression “Ser chava,” which literally means “Upon my eyes.” It's almost like saying  "It is my pleasure to serve you." On special occasions such as this, we have tended to part ways with this spoken custom by simply responding with a “Supas bu Xudey” — “Thank God.”

Farewell Yaser!

Posted on Sun, 10/13/2013 - 23:28 by Nick Boyum

It seems only a short time ago that the volunteers here at Shevet learned of a young Kurdish boy in critical condition, anxiously awaiting papers to go through to allow him to come to Israel. It was a long wait for everyone, especially Yaser and his father waiting in Jordan to make the crossing. But time and time again, we are all reminded of how much God is at work in these desperate children's lives, and this time was no exception. The gates flew open and, before any of us could blink, Yaser was on the operating table.

The first time I personally met this little fella was after his surgery, and he was so weak he could hardly keep his eyes open. I vividly remember his father practically pacing in the secondary ICU, looking very concerned and speaking very little. The only words I could remember mustering were: "We are all praying for little Yaser." His father would nod in appreciation, not taking his eyes off his little boy for even a second. But the Lord continued his work, and before we had hardly blinked again, Yaser was walking through our front door here on Prophets Street! 
It was mere days before little Yaser was exploring our home, chasing our dog Shevie from room to room. In fact, I was very surprised at how comfortable Yaser became with our little Shevet pooch. His father took special care to introduce Yaser to Shevie whenever they would cross paths, and it wasn't too long after that Yaser and Shevie were best friends. Yaser's time on Prophets Street could not have flown by faster. He and his father quickly became one of the family, and their ability to bring smiles to the volunteers' faces grew and grew. Yaser's father had also grown noticeably more comfortable, and was frequently found practicing his English or teaching the volunteers Kurdish and Arabic words. It should be clear by this point why such great sadness befell the house when Yaser and his father packed up and prepared to leave. But before we could let them go, a celebration was in order! 
As the music opened his farewell party, Yaser was almost drawn into dancing with little Yara who was also leaving for home:
When the time came to open gifts, among Yaser's was a fashionable hat to compliment his favorite orange button-up:
The morning of his departure from Jerusalem, Yaser decided it was too hot for the hat and chose a slick pair of shades instead. 
And no farewell would be complete without a couple wet kisses from the Prophet Street Pooch herself. 
Eyewitness accounts report that Yaser's smile never faded, nor did his laugh soften, as he approached the airport in Amman to fly home to Iraq. Yaser was about to fly home with a new heart! It was a moment we'd all been waiting for but wished it hadn't come so soon! 
Farewell, Yaser. It has been a blessing to have you in our midst. As hard as the goodbyes always are, we thank God for the miracle that is you and your new heart. Our prayers and thoughts go with you, and let us never forget your tender smile and your beautiful laughter.

Final Echo for Yaser

Posted on Thu, 10/10/2013 - 22:38 by Sonia D'Orso

Before leaving Jerusalem, we prayed together for a short and uncomplicated trip to Wolfson Hospital for Yaser’s final echo.

It was the shortest we’ve been to yet. After five minutes, the doctor said he looked good. After three more she said, “He’s ready to go to Kurdistan!” After a very quick time here overall, just a few days over a month, he’s recovered from his open-heart surgery. Yaser is now only on two medications, down from eight last week!

Our surprise and joy for this good news affected Yaser’s father too. It was amazing that our prayers were answered so clearly. He was near to crying, with red eyes and tears welling up. He thanked God saying, “Supas bo Xua!” He’s been fasting for nine days, eating early before sunrise and then only after sunset for God’s help.

It’s not often we see such a fervent Kurdish Muslim who lives what he’s learned to be right: regularly praying, wearing a full-length white gown, and disdaining alcohol. His manner has been very gentle with everyone. Surely he is not far from the kingdom of heaven. We pray God will show Himself to him further.

Successful Day for Yaser

Posted on Tue, 10/08/2013 - 00:06 by Nick Boyum

Yaser, confidently adorned in his Sunday-best orange button-up, bravely traveled to Wolfsen Hospital today for a follow-up echo and a minor procedure to remove some annoying lingering stitches. It was a busy day for many Shevet volunteers visiting other kiddos, including the recent arrivals to the Prophet Street crew: Ryan and Elizabeth! Naturally, Yaser took full advantage of the several hours of quality free time in pirate-themed play areas and with a particularly hilarious clown in the echo ward.

Also, to the best of both of our knowledge, Yaser and I partook in our first ever Wolfson Hospital cafeteria meal! Yaser quickly discovered a love for the golden delicious fried fish, while I subsequently re-discovered a moderate distaste for anything from a hospital cafeteria.

On the other hand, it was encouraging and uplifting to the whole crew to see how diligently Yaser's father stayed at his side the whole day through all the laughs and the tears. The father-son bond was evident as he teasingly cut off Yaser's limbs one by one with a toy plastic sword, and quickly restored them with a swish of 'magic water' from Yaser's water bottle, summoning fits of playful laughter from young Yaser. Said plastic toy sword was also the weapon of choice in the gruesome 'murder' of a number of Shevet volunteers, which Yaser also quickly remedied with another swift swish.

Having rounded up the scattered Shevet volunteers, we packed the van and pointed our compasses back to Prophet Street. Our journey home found us in a traffic jam so dense that many travelers found it privy to park on the shoulder and walk. However, the vehicular excitement brought to mind a verse in Isaiah: "...go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." Thank the Lord for a safe, successful day!

Yaser's First Follow-Up Echo

Posted on Thu, 10/03/2013 - 21:43 by Hannes-Christoph Buchmann

This morning Ruth, Yaser, his father and I left for Yaser’s first echocardiogram. After a smooth ride to Wolfson Medical Center, we had to wait some time until other children were done with their echos. During that time we played with Yaser.

He loved to pick up one of the children’s chairs and take it to another place around us all the time. After that, I went with him to the play area in the echo department.  There is a small toy kitchen where he played with the oven and other kitchen stuff. Then Dr. Alona asked us to come in for the echo.

After just a few minutes it was already done and Dr. Alona officially decreased his medication dosage. She also said that he should come on Monday again, and the Monday after. If the results of both echos are good, he can leave to return home to northern Iraq. With this good news we went to the cafeteria, picked up lunch, and enjoyed it outside in the bright sun. After our lunch we headed back to Jerusalem and arrived there in the early afternoon.

Yaser in Jerusalem for the First Time

Posted on Sun, 09/29/2013 - 22:33 by Philip Rasmussen
When entitling this blog, I first wrote: “Yaser Back Home Again”. Getting so used to reuniting with families at our base in Jerusalem after their surgery stay at the hospital, I totally forgot that Yaser never has seen our house. As his body since birth has been constantly deprived of oxygen due to his heart defects, he was taken straight to Wolfson Medical Center after crossing the border from Jordan to Israel. For that reason, we have not really had a chance to get to experience Yaser as he really is in normal surroundings. I’m sure Yaser has been a little bit confused and frightened after traveling all the way from Kurdistan to Israel just to be an object for different medical tools which even brought him a lot of pain. It has been a difficult task to really get through to him and make him smile. He is a man of few words – hardly any – so I’m excited to see what kind of development we are going to witness in the next weeks.
We went to Wolfson this morning, not knowing if Yaser would end up being discharged or not, but we met his father who told us with a big smile the good news he had just received – Yaser had been discharged. Immediately, different Arab families came out of their rooms and congratulated him. It has been beautiful to see how these families have supported each other through sorrow and joy. Today it was Yaser’s father’s turn to rejoice, and he has made it clear to all of us that he has been looking forward to this day since they arrived at the hospital almost four weeks ago.
Yaser got a shower, and it was great to see Yaser in his own clothes – a smart, colourful shirt instead of the hospital pajamas. Walking through the hall on our way to the van, we were stopped by many nurses and several cleaning staff-members who all wanted to say goodbye to little Yaser. Their smiles became even bigger when Yaser would reply, waving his hand and saying,  “Bye bye” with his weak, sweet voice.
We are blessed with a special time right now of having three fathers with us in Jerusalem, and I’m sure Yaser and his father will be a nice addition to our household. Let’s give praise to the Lord for bringing this sweet little child safe and sound into our midst in Jerusalem.

Steady Improvements

Posted on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 18:10 by Johanna Eurich
Today, Jesse and I went to Wolfson Hospital to visit Yaser and his dad. We were really happy about the fact that we couldn’t find them in the Secondary ICU. As we entered the Children’s Ward, we found Yaser sitting on his bed picking tomatoes out of his salad. He still has the chest tube, but his oxygen level has improved so that he no longer needs the nasal cannula.
We were glad to witness his steady improvements, which seem to cheer up his dad as well. Although his heart is healing very well, I had the feeling that Yaser feels quite uncomfortable from time to time. He was trying to move around and wanted his dad to hold him on his arm, but the chest tube makes that rather difficult. Tears rolled down from his big brown eyes, but his dad was able to give him comfort pretty fast. Yaser was also pretty excited by the new toys we brought to the hospital today. He had a good time packing all the toys, which cover a big part of his bed, into a bag and unpacking all of them with a lot of joy.
We hope that this cute boy’s body will recover and get stronger so that his chest tube can be removed soon and he can have more freedom to roll around in his bed and enjoy being carried around by his loving father. 

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Posted on Sun, 09/22/2013 - 23:35 by Kristina Kayser

When Philip and I visited Yaser and his father today, I was thankful to find them both in pleasant spirits. Nearly two weeks have passed since the successful repair of Yaser's heart. The tenderness and faithful care of his father has continued unabated despite the ups and downs of a lengthy recovery in hospital. Any observer can testify to the deep bond this father and son share. And today, they invited Philip and I into their circle of trust.

I sat down beside Yaser, greeting him in Kurdish, only to be met by shy, cautious eyes. Then ever so slowly, his reticence gave in to warmth. He began by showing me his improved strength with strong kicks in bed. The light in his eyes and his playful smile were wonderful to see! This began a conversation about soccer with his father, who is really looking forward to scrimmaging with our Shevet volunteers in Jerusalem. Yaser's appetite has also made progress; we all watched in delight as he munched down a large bagel all by himself.

The only thing that seemed to be keeping Yaser from returning to the Shevet house was a mysterious drop in his oxygen saturation overnight. A steady stream of oxygen via nasal cannula brought his levels back to normal again. It was only when his heart was examined via echo this afternoon that his current condition was fully disclosed.

Dr. Tamir confirmed that Yaser has accumulated for a second time a large amount of pleural effusion (PLE). This is a common post-op side effect in which excess fluid builds up around the lungs. Oral diuretics were not enough to combat the issue, leading Dr. Tamir to order the reinsertion of a chest tube. Yaser's father grew quiet as his countenance fell. "Ava galek naxhosh," ("This is really horrible") he repeated again and again. Contrastingly, Yaser's heart and surgical results look wonderful. When I tried to explain this, Yaser's father could not rectify why his son had PLE if the surgery went well. In his mind, the surgery was not successful if fluid was now present.

Philip and I tried to reassure this loving father that this difficulty would pass and give him room to express his thoughts and concerns. Tears filled his eyes as he turned to pray. I saw in his tears the longing for his son to be made whole and the desire to take Yaser's suffering as his own. In like manner, our heavenly Father desired and secured our restoration through Messiah's suffering on our behalf.

Yaser is now resting in secondary ICU with his father at his side. Please pray that the pleural effusion will resolve quickly and that Yaser's father will find hope in the midst. I trust that "the Lord raises those who are bowed down" (Psalm 146:8) and that we'll see His love displayed towards Yaser and his father still more and more.

Yaser in the Child's Ward

Posted on Fri, 09/20/2013 - 10:18 by Jesse Tilman
Five of us from Shevet Achim rolled in today to see Yaser. Mary Dailey had just arrived from the airport and was willing to have one of her first hours in Israel be spent inside Wolfson hospital with this recovering heart patient from Kurdistan. Yaser’s Dad welcomed us in the secondary ICU, and we began discussing how the care was going. He told us that the nurses let him know that he would be moving into the regular children’s ward soon, and sure enough, after about 10 minutes the nurse on staff came and told him it was time to move. All his stuff was already packed, and we gathered everything up as they unhooked Yaser from the wires. His two chest drainage tubes had already been removed, and you could see he was much happier moving around now.
As we got to his new room across the hall from the nurses station, Yaser soon began crying and laid face-down on his stomach. After a few minutes trying to cheer him up, his Dad understood that Yaser thought we visitors were doctors come to do checkups on him. He asked if we could step out for a few minutes and then come back in slowly. Yaser got back to playing with his many toys as soon as we were gone. Dr. Mikail explained to us that Yaser is well on track in his recovery, and he hopes to send him back with us to Jerusalem by Sunday if not on Friday.
While we were there, a Jewish man came by who was giving out citrons, special lemons that the Israelis use in their celebration of the Feast of Booths starting tonight. An Arab mother in a neighboring bed came by and welcomed Yaser and his father to the room and discussed their hospital stays so far. Next a Romanian mother and son were moved into the third and final bed in the room. The boy Laurentsiu gave a us a smile as they settled in. After some prayer for Yaser and last thoughts, we said goodbye.