Yaser's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Visiting Yaser

Posted on Mon, 09/16/2013 - 20:25 by Agnes_Wiggers

Today I had a taste of what life in the hospital is like for the parents who stay with their children after surgery. We had a long wait for Anas' checkup, so I decided to spend most of my time with Yaser and his father. Yaser is still in secondary ICU, and gradually and steadily improving. He still has a chest tube in and apparently there were some problems with drainage, but after a good clean it was much better. I was watching while all his bandages were being changed and he was given a lovely bed bath. It was interesting to listen to the nurses talking while they do that - it sounds like they are quite pleased with him. He is such a lovely, patient little guy and his father's dedication to him is amazing. Even the doctors and nurses talk about how much he loves Yaser, they say they don't often get fathers that dedicated.

Please pray for Yaser's father, it is a long wait for him. Yaser doesn't like him leaving which makes life very restricted for him. Every time I watch him with his son I am reminded of our heavenly Father who "neither slumbers nor sleeps." Hopefully not long now until he can be moved to the regular children's ward, because unlike our heavenly Father, Yaser's father really needs some proper sleep.

Steadfastly Improving

Posted on Sun, 09/15/2013 - 21:01 by Philip Rasmussen

Our co-worker Yousef and I went down to the Gaza border this morning to bring a boy to Wolfson Medical Center for a heart operation. While helping the Gazan family get through their admission procedures, we met Yaser’s father in the hallway. He seems to function quite well in the hospital, and is always glad when we bring more Arab families for him to visit with. He is able to communicate very well in Arabic, which is a great advantage for him. It seems like his language skills put him in a much better position than many of the Kurdish mothers here who from time to time can feel lonely and uninformed while in the hospital.

Later, we went in and spent some time with Yaser in the intermediate ICU. Yaser was in a good mood sitting there as the king of the room. He had teddy bears and different things right at hand and most important a dad who very patiently and caringly always made sure that Yaser never needed anything. It’s no secret that Yaser likes his father, but if it happens that somebody would question that, you should try to be in the same room as Yaser when his father leaves – the answer will appear very loudly and clearly to you. For that reason Yaser’s father finds it difficult to leave his son in order to go bring himself some food from the cafeteria. When it comes to food, Kurdish people are relatively easy to work with. If you can find them some chicken and rice the day is saved! So we went and brought him some food which he first touched after making sure that Yaser was completely satisfied.

The medical situation for Yaser is slowly but steadfastly improving. He is still kept in the intermediate ICU as he has some fluid around his heart – therefore you’ll see the attached chest tubes. Praise to the Lord for his steadfast healing!

Secondary ICU

Posted on Wed, 09/11/2013 - 20:15 by Agnes_Wiggers

I was very excited to be able to go see Yaser and his dad with Kristina, Johanna, and Nick at Wolfson as the last time I saw him was on surgery day.  And even more pleased to see he had been moved to the intermediate ICU! His vitals looked fine: his oxygen is fine and his blood pressure is up.  He looked so cute with his big brown eyes, though we didn't manage to get a smile out of him, not even while Kristina tried to blow some bubbles for him. His father sounded a bit worried as he had been told Yaser has some fluid round his lungs and he also said he wasn't eating.  Kristina was able to reassure him that that is perfectly normal after surgery. As Yaser looked rather sleepy (and the bubble blower wasn't working!), we went to buy some food for him and when we came back, both Yaser and his dad were sound asleep.  So after praying for them we decided to leave them to sleep in peace.

A Dream of Many Colors?

Posted on Tue, 09/10/2013 - 20:56 by Deborah Burke

This angelic-looking little boy was extubated earlier today and is in a stable condition. His oxygen levels are sitting on 99% and if Yaser’s low blood pressure stabilizes by tomorrow he may be moved out of the intensive care unit (ICU) into the children’s ward.

Sonia and Jesse went into the ICU first and reported that Yaser awoke for a short time and then went back to sleep. When I went into the ICU Sonia was on hand gently stroking Yaser’s head while he slept although he appeared to be dreaming. I wondered what a 2 year-old would dream about. A tiger? A coat of many colours? An angel who was with him during surgery?

When I leant over and gently said “God bless you” Yaser’s little body responded with a significant movement. Not long afterwards he woke up and just took in his surroundings and new faces.

While we were visiting the surgeon stopped by and mentioned that Yaser had been given a diuretic to keep the excess fluid under control. The fluid levels can be affected by Yaser’s emotional state. He has been getting very upset when he wakes up and the doctor reported that he has sometimes yelled and been very agitated. It was like a roller coaster ride while we were visiting with Yaser going from sleeping to quietly taking everything in and then a full-blown state of crying. His sweet and loving father was on hand to gently speak with him and stroke his forehead.

It brought to my mind the love of our heavenly Father who gave us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who gives peace and healing to the hurting heart. The Comforter is with us from the moment we believe that Yeshua died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin (Ephesians 1:12-14). We can all rest in the strength of the Holy Spirit, and have comfort that is unspeakable and delightful. So, we pray that as little Yaser heals and grows he will experience an unspeakable delight and his father will receive great comfort.


Yaser's Big Day

Posted on Mon, 09/09/2013 - 20:08 by Johanna Eurich

After Yaser managed the journey to Israel pretty well, the day of his open-heart surgery arrived.

At 8am this morning Yaser was taken to the operation room. Unfortunately Kristina, Jesse, Agnes and I arrived shortly after that finding his very worried dad sitting outside the ICU room. The tears in his eyes clearly showed his deep love for his youngest son. Luckily Kristina and Jesse managed to calm him down a bit and we all went outside and sat down in the grass. It looked like all of us sitting together and praying for Yaser comforted him a little, but he would always go back to having a really anxious and tense look on his face. In this state of mind conversations about God and praying, or faith in general, tend to come up and that’s what happened today as well. It is always very interesting to learn something about different perspectives and beliefs about God and praying and how different relationships with God can be. Despite the dissimilarities we all believe in God and we were thanking Him so much for being there for Yaser especially in this difficult situation. I guess it is really important for Yaser’s dad to feel God’s support and experience the feeling of not being alone.

Although he gained comfort and strength from this conversation, Yaser’s dad felt the urge to go back inside in order to be closer to the ICU in case the surgery might be finished soon. But then he got restless just sitting there and waiting, which is why he decided to take a walk with Jesse. Right after they left the nurses brought Yaser up from the operation room into the ICU. We were positively surprised that the surgery took only about three hours. Yaser’s dad rushed back but he had to wait for another hour until he was allowed to see his son. After having heard that the surgery went well, there were no complications, and that the doctors were able to fully repair Yaser’s heart, he felt really relieved and kept on thanking God for the miracle He just did. He also mentioned that he feels like a lot of weight had been taken off of his shoulders, he eventually got rid of his worried face, and smiled which expresses his deep love for his son. He even had tears of joy and relief in his eyes which he shared with a lot of family members who all called to hear the good news. With his regained confidence he decided that it is time for lunch and we all headed to the cafeteria and shared a meal together.

After that it was time for Yaser’s dad to finally see his son. Yaser was still asleep and looked very calm, but his dad was a bit intimidated by the amount of machines Yaser was connected to. We were allowed to enter the ICU and see Yaser as well and I was really thankful to see the pink color of the little boy’s feet with the blue tint having disappeared. He tried to move his feet showing us that he is a fighter and that he will regain his strength. Although he was not completely stabilized and his blood pressure went down twice, we were comforted by the fact that the nurses and doctors took really good care of him. The first hours post-surgery are always risky and low blood pressure is a common side-effect. Hopefully Yaser will be stable soon. After reassuring ourselves that his dad was calm and in a positive state of mind, we started our journey back to Jerusalem thanking God for a smooth surgery day and praying for Yaser’s healing and recovery. 

He Kept Him as the Apple of His Eye

Posted on Mon, 09/09/2013 - 01:15 by Jonathan Miles

Both the American doctor who diagnosed Yaser in Iraq and the Israeli doctor who accepted him for heart surgery cautioned us that he was at risk of collapsing while traveling. So we arranged to fly with him and his father from northern Iraq to Jordan, and pressed on in faith even when the airline would not allow his oxygen canister onto the flight. Thank God, Yaser slept most of the flight and arrived cheerfully in Amman on Saturday, August 31.

After a stressful three more days waiting for a visa, we crossed the Jordan River and Yaser boldy stepped into Israel, proclaiming over and over as he stood in the doorway the traditional Kurdish blessing "God watch over you."


Under the watchful eye of our senior nurse Kristina, Yaser arrived at the Wolfson Medical Center Tuesday evening looking even better than we had ever seen him, and he bravely faced the sudden swarm of medical staff who'd been waiting for him in the ICU:

With Yaser's oxygen saturation now reading 70% of normal, cardiologist Dr. Alona asked jokingly if we'd brought the right child! (Yaser's earlier saturations while traveling were as low as 48%). We believe God's grace had something to do with his safe and happy arrival in Israel.

Yaser is hospitalized awaiting surgery immediately after the Rosh HaShana holiday.

Update from Caryl Batdorf, September 8, 2013:

Yaser is still at Wolfson Hospital waiting for his surgery which is now scheduled for Monday morning.  When we entered his room this afternoon, we were met by his father who was lovingly and protectively waiting beside him.   We were blessed by the way his father watched over his son, making sure he had his shoes on before he walked in the hall, that he wasn’t too close to the side of his bed,  and that he was clean and changed.  When Yaser began to cry, he very quickly turned blue and his father calmly and confidently picked him up to comfort him.  And just as soon as he turned blue, his color returned to healthy pink.   

Yaser is like any little boy, wanting to play, laugh and be loved.  He especially enjoyed throwing papers that he had colored off the bed and laughing at us picking them up – over and over and over.  He also loved going to the small playground near his room to enjoy the cool breeze and colorful play equipment.  He did get tired and his father was right there to comfort him and show him the love and peace only a father can provide. After a full day of playing with us he enjoyed two cups of gelato, and feeding his father with every other spoonful, and his smiles reflected his joy & love.

…”he encircled him, he cared for him,
he kept him as the apple of his eye.
Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
that flutters over its young,
spreading out its wings, catching them,
bearing them on its pinions,
the Lord alone guided him”

Deuteronomy 32:10-12

Long Journey Ahead

Posted on Wed, 08/28/2013 - 21:48 by Kelsey Cannon

Sweet little Yaser was born with a dangerous and specific quartet of heart defects which leaves his body constantly deprived of oxygen - a condition known as Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF). While his condition was diagnosed at birth, he had no way of receiving the necessary surgical correction for his heart in his home country of Iraq. Now at two years of age, Yaser’s condition has significantly deteriorated and he needs immediate medical intervention. Fortunately for Yaser, he will indeed receive the life-saving treatment he so desperately needs. He has been invited to Israel to begin stage one of a two-staged repair of his heart. We hope to have him with us by this upcoming Sunday.

In his present state, Yaser frequently undergoes “tet spells”, a dangerous side effect common among patients with TOF. His propensity for having tet spells will increase from its already heightened state during the travel time from Iraq to Israel. This is due to decreases in oxygen levels in higher altitudes on plane rides and the risk of dehydration from both the plane and the car rides. That said, the biggest risk for Yaser lies not in his impending surgery, but in his travel time in getting to Israel. Please join us in seeking to keep Yaser covered in prayer.