Zanyar's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

A Special Birthday Surprise

Posted on Mon, 12/21/2015 - 22:25 by Ruth Zellweger

Yesterday, our Shevet community gathered after lunch to celebrate Zanyar's first birthday.

His passport had given away the date, and as it is our custom, we took some time after lunch to acknowledge that important day. However, just before lunch, his father told me that Zanyar's birthday is actually a day later. Since we had already prepared everything for the party, I asked him if he would mind if we celebrated that day. He was fine with the celebration, and Zanyar enjoyed the birthday cake very much.

The big surprise came today, as Zanyar was called in for surgery tomorrow. We had been told that it could possibly be at the end of this week, but no one had informed us that it would be earlier. Zanyar's father quickly packed his belongings, and off he went. Zanyar shed some tears during the different assessments and the blood test, but was quickly comforted in his father's arms. 

As of now, the doctors have decided to do the atrial switch, which is less risky than the other option, but with a shorter life expectancy. We pray for wisdom for both the doctors and the father, who is still willing to go for the arterial switch, which is higher risk, but if successful, could give Zanyar a life with little limitations. Our heavenly Father knows which approach is best for this precious little boy, and we trust in His mercy.

An Impressive Caregiver

Posted on Wed, 12/09/2015 - 21:50 by Ruth Ruhland

Zanyar slept well his first night in the hospital, but in the morning he was very hungry. He was not allowed to eat since he was waiting for his CT. For that, kids normally receive a little bit of anesthesia because they need to lie down very still. His father really impressed me the whole day. He knows his son very well and took care of him so nicely. In the morning he went with him for a walk to calm him down exactly at the moment that someone wanted to bring him to the CT. Everyone was flustered and searched for him in the hospital. Thankfully, he came back after some minutes and we headed together to the CT.

The doctors were really nice and we could stay with Zanyar until he received his anesthesia. The CT took just around 15 minutes, and Sophie and I waited with the father. When Zanyar came out of the CT the doctors brought him immediately to the recovery room so he could sleep there until the medication in his body had worn off. When he came back to the ward he was very hungry and his father fully understood he should feed him slowly, a little bit at a time.

After he was fed he took a nap and we received the news he was discharged and could go back with us to Jerusalem. While we waited for the rest of our hospital team to be ready to leave his father entertained Zanyar. The nurses couldn’t tell us the results of his CT or what the next steps will be for Zanyar.

Please keep praying for good decisions.

A Difficult Choice

Posted on Tue, 12/08/2015 - 20:50 by Ruth Zellweger

After a night in Jerusalem, our group went back to the hospital this morning. Zanyar received some sedation so that he wouldn't cry while they performed the echo of his heart. And so he laid peacefully on the examination table, while both Yfat, the echo technician, and Dr. Alona examined Zanyar's heart.

They confirmed the diagnosis that he had already received back home: Transposition of the Great Arteries. After she had finished the examination, Dr. Alona took time to explain about the two options for surgical repair. The first option, called atrial switch, is less risky and will quickly give Zanyar good oxygenation of his whole body. The problem with this approach is that after 20 to 30 years his right heart chamber would not be able to continue working properly.

The second option is called arterial switch, which is usually done in the first weeks after birth. Since Zanyar is already nearly a year, this is a lot riskier now. The repair would be done in two stages. Stage one would prepare the heart for the switch through putting a band around the pulmonary artery. However, this is a risky procedure with a higher mortality rate. If this was successful, the doctors would then perform stage two after about three months and switch the pulmonary artery with the aorta. Afterwards, Zanyar could lead an almost normal life with regular follow ups. 

Please pray for wisdom for the doctors, who will discuss Zanyar's case in their meeting on Thursday, as well as for Zanyar's parents who will have to make the decision in the end. It is not an easy one to make. 

Zanyar is staying overnight in the hospital, as he will have a CT-scan of his brain tomorrow morning. In all the frightening circumstances, God is there and in control. May His peace be tangible tonight and in the following days and weeks for Zanyar and his father.

A Time For Everything

Posted on Mon, 12/07/2015 - 21:35 by Ruth Zellweger

Today, Zanyar went for his first assessments at Wolfson Medical Center in Tel Aviv. He got all the tests done, except for the echocardiogram of his heart, for which we will go back tomorrow morning. During my time spent with him, I couldn't help but fall in love with him. He is such a sweet little boy with gentle and beautiful brown eyes.

I was impressed by his father's patience and love that he showed throughout the day, comforting his son in times of tears, and playing with him in times of waiting. 

We are waiting to hear from the cardiologists tomorrow about what they think can be done for Zanyar, trusting that our heavenly Father knows the perfect treatment for Zanyar's heart. Our hope is that both father and son will return to Kurdistan in northern Iraq with physical and spiritual hearts forever transformed and healed.

Zanyar Arrives in Israel

Posted on Sun, 12/06/2015 - 22:25 by Ruth Zellweger

Early this morning, little Zanyar arrived with his father at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. We had to wait for about half an hour in the waiting hall, but then father and son appeared. It was not difficult to get acquainted with Zanyar's father, who is very friendly and open towards new people.

Both Zanyar and father had time today to settle in and rest. Tomorrow will be a big day as Zanyar will have his first assessments at Wolfson Hospital. We are thankful God opened a door for Zanyar to come, and we pray his heart will be healed completely in the near future.