Zakariya 's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Zakariya's Life Bears Fruit

Posted on Tue, 03/07/2017 - 21:48 by John Barancik

Last night was a very special night for Zakariya, his father, and the volunteers here at Shevet Achim. We held a party to say goodbye and to show our love and the love of our Father in Heaven to Zakariya and his father. It was a time of worship, prayer, and fantastic fellowship. We had so much fun singing songs and eating some traditional Kurdish food.

My wife and I took turns holding little Zakariya. We really made a special bond with him and his father. After dinner, Zakariya and his father were given some lovely farewell gifts.

There was a time of sharing sentiments from the volunteers, as we took turns blessing them both. We then watched a very touching video montage documenting Zakariya's time with Shevet Achim. We will surely miss Zakariya, and look forward to hearing from his family in Kurdistan about how he has grown. 

I hope Zakariya and his family have been just as blessed by us here at Shevet Achim, as we were by them. I know that my life will never be the same. My prayer is that the seeds planted will grow to maturity, and bear fruit for the glory of God. In Yeshua's name, amen.

Praising God

Posted on Mon, 03/06/2017 - 22:30 by Alexa Bigl

Little Zakariya came to Wolfson today for his final echo. He and his father patiently waited for their turn, anticipating good news. 

Zakariya happily smiled at the doctor as she performed the echo. He didn't cry at all and showed off his growing tummy as he watched a movie.
The doctors report a small amount of regurgitation in one of Zakariya's valves, but everything else looks wonderful. While the doctors aren't very concerned about this, we will continue to lift his little heart up to the heavenly Healer. 
During the echo, Zakariya's father was telling me about his time in Jerusalem. The first thing he shared was a special visit he received from an American pastor. Zakariya's father was moved by the love and prayer poured onto his son by the pastor's church, which has been a special part of Zakariya's journey. 
Soon, we got the official word that Zakariya could go home to Kurdistan! We weighed him, and learned in the last 10 days he has gained 0.5kg! Praise the Lord. 
Our last stop was the children's ward where the last suture was removed from Zakariya's chest and then we were off. 


Posted on Tue, 02/28/2017 - 21:15 by Ruth Zellweger

Today Zakariya was invited for a follow-up echocardiogram of his heart. Since his vomiting had not subsided yet, the cardiologists stopped some of his medications, suspecting that they were the cause. Without the meds, but with prayer and practical help for the father, Zakariya's condition has been improving and he is not throwing up any longer. We are so thankful for that, as the weight loss had weakened little Zakariya. 

The echo revealed that his heart looks good, and that there is only a tiny amount of fluid accumulation visible. Dr. Tamir stopped the last medication Zakariya was on for his heart, and wants to seem him back next Monday. If he is doing well, it could be his final echo. 

During the course of the past week, Zakariya's father has been anxious and worried at times. But today he seemed at peace and was just happy that Zakariya's condition is improving. He wants to return to his family so badly, but also understands that the doctors will only discharge Zakariya when they feel confident that there won't be any more complications.

We know that God's timing is perfect and trust Him during Zakariya's remaining time in Israel. May it be a blessed one.


Zakariya Released

Posted on Sun, 02/26/2017 - 21:57 by John Barancik

After a long couple of days, the doctors cleared Zakariya to leave the hospital today.  He still has the stomach virus, but he seems to be keeping food down in smaller doses.


I had the pleasure of walking home with Zakariya and his father today. During the walk, Zakariya's father agreed to let me pray for Zakariya. After we returned home, I was once again blessed to hold and feed Zakariya. Praise God, Zakariya kept it down!

Please continue to pray for Zakariya to beat this stomach virus, and to start getting his weight back up.

Zakariya Readmitted

Posted on Fri, 02/24/2017 - 23:20 by Ruth Zellweger

These past days had their ups and downs for little Zakariya. He hasn't been feeling well and has thrown up several times. We thought that he was doing better, but this afternoon we decided to take him for a check up, since he had thrown up after each feeding today. 

At the hospital the nurses took his vital signs and a blood sample, and then we waited for the results. Zakariya also had a bottle of milk there, which thankfully he did not throw up. After an hour the doctor came, assessed Zakariya, and looked at the results of the blood test. Zakariya has gastroenteritis, and the doctors have decided to admit him for a few nights to monitor him closely.

Zakariya has lost 400g recently and now weighs less than when he first arrived. We appreciate your prayers for him and his father as their journey continues. Zakariya's father is getting tired and wants to return to his family as soon as possible. May he have the patience and endurance to wait until Zakariya is well enough, and may Zakariya gain weight and recover soon. 

Progress Towards a Healed Heart

Posted on Mon, 02/20/2017 - 21:55 by Alexa Bigl

Zakariya and his dad headed to Wolfson today for his first echo since he was discharged back to our house. 

The fluid is gone from around his lung and heart! This week we will slowly decrease his steroid medication until he can completely stop. A new medication has been started to facilitate faster healing so Zakariya can get home sooner, also. 
The doctors want to see him next Monday and will assess from there how much longer he will need follow up care here in Israel. 
Zakariya was a bit upset about the doctors poking and proding him, but his dad started feeding him a sweetened banana and Zakariya was happy again. Praise God for this little boy's continued healing! We are feeling so blessed to have Zakariya and his dad at the house and fully getting into community life at Shevet. Thank you, Lord, for this special little family. 

Zakariya Released

Posted on Fri, 02/17/2017 - 18:28 by Paul Gerstmann

Hallelujah! Zakariya was released today from Wolfson hospital around 1:30 p.m. He and his father were all smiles as they left the hospital.

The doctor determined Zakariya is in good enough shape to leave today. Zakariya still has fluid around his heart, but it is slowly decreasing. He is due for an echo on Monday and the doctors hope the fluid will be gone by then. Until he reaches his normal weight, he will remain on a special high-calorie milk diet. Please keep him in your prayers.


Hanging Out With Zakariya

Posted on Wed, 02/15/2017 - 22:00 by Alexa Bigl

I had the opportunity to head over to Wolfson this morning to visit Zakariya. 

On Monday, Brenda wrote about Zakariya's potential move over to the children's ward. This did happen late Monday afternoon. Yesterday, Zakariya wasn't eating well and was crying a lot. His echo looked ok, but the medical staff was concerned. He had a special halter placed to monitor his heart. 

Today, he finished with the halter. It was sent to the lab to have the results downloaded onto a computer and then read by the cardiologists. However, the echo this morning showed fluid accumulation around Zakariya's heart. His left lung also has a very small pocket of fluid around it. So, Zakariya was started on a steroid medication to reduce and eliminate this fluid. Despite the complication, he was back to eating very well today. Since his discharge back to Shevet's house will be delayed due to the fluid, Zakariya's dad took a couple hours to come home for a shower and home-cooked meal at our Jaffa base. 
Zakariya and I hung out at the hospital during this time. He slept for most of it, but we did take a stroll around the medical center while he was awake.
And for the last few minutes of our one-on-one time, I fed Zakariya a bottle that he drank right up. Once Paul brought Zakariya's father back we enjoyed a few minutes of conversation and ate a traditional Kurdish snack of dates and walnuts - even the Wolfson nurse joined us. 
Please join us in praying for the results of the halter test and that the steroid medication quickly reduces the fluid seen on the echo. May God strengthen and encourage father and son as they come into this final stretch of time being admitted in the hospital. 

The Boy Who Will Melt Your Heart

Posted on Mon, 02/13/2017 - 18:31 by Brenda Hofer

It has been a little while since I've had the pleasure of visiting the families while they are staying at Wolfson hospital for their surgeries. I enjoyed seeing each of the fathers that we checked on in the different wards. I was especially looking forward to meeting Zakariya and his father since it was the first time we ever met. Zakariya was being attended to by a nurse, and he did not enjoy having his surroundings being tampered with. He let out some little cries and gave sad looks, but soon it was all done. Once that was over, Tilde and I made funny faces and grinned at Zakariya, who practically didn't stop smiling until he got sleepy and took a nap. This little boy will melt your heart if given the chance to meet him.

By then, Zakariya's father came back from lunch. It was special to see a father dote on his young son the way Zakariya's father did. The father had a sweet and tender disposition towards his six month-old baby. You can tell this father is really just a nice person. I also learned that Zakariya has a twin broher named Alland.

We tried to find out whether or not Zakariya would be moved to the children's ward today, but the nurse said the doctor had not given the final okay yet. We left the hospital around 1:00 pm, so it is still possible that he could be upgraded from secondary ICU to the children's ward later today.

To me, Zakariya seemed to be quite a bit better, so we will wait on the Lord's perfect timing. Please join with me in praying for Zakariya's little heart to continue to heal and his strength to recover so he can  thrive. It is truly amazing to see the transformation from the pictures taken when he first arrived and seeing him now smiling and slowly gaining weight. All praise to our Messiah!

All Glory Unto God

Posted on Fri, 02/10/2017 - 22:40 by Paul Gerstmann

Today I was able to visit with Zakariya and his father. I had not seen Zakariya for three or four days, so I was surprised to see how healthy he looked. He seemed to have a peace about him, as if he knew the worst was over and he could now peacefully sleep. Although I cannot speak Kurdish, I understood just from his father's face the relief and satisfaction in seeing his son's recovery. His father loves him very much and I believe God has honored that love with the gift of healing. All glory unto God.