Harseen's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Harseen's Joyful Return Home

Posted on Fri, 12/10/2010 - 06:45 by Donna_West

Harseen arrived at the hospital for her last echo Thursday morning. She played with her friend Sara and our driver Gadi while she waited her turn with the doctor. Dr. Alona pointed to the echo screen and told two observing students, "Excellent results." It was all smiles as Dr. Alona told Harseen's mother, "Bye Bye," UNTIL it was time to remove the stitches from where the drainage tubes had been.

When we left Wolfson Hospital for Harseen's last time, Gadi took us to the Mediterranean Sea at Jaffa, a 3000 year old city. A walk on the beach, the smell of the wind blowing in from the sea, the sight of the ancient City in the background--all made for a time of thankfulness for Harseen's good report to a very big and loving God.

As we returned to Jerusalem a celebration and a farewell was being planned for Harseen.

Tea, cake, music, gifts and very fond farewells were the evening's agenda. In the morning it was time for our final goodbyes and a few tears.

It has been a privilege to have the opportunity to become part of the lives of this mother and daughter. We look forward to seeing them again one day, as the Lord wills.

Jonathan adds:
Our trip across the Jordan River was notable for meaningful conversation with Harseen's mother, and a beautiful stop outside Amman to watch the Shabbat come in with the setting sun over Israel.

Harseen and mother then went with us to visit some friends and to see the new Narnia film in 3-D (only the second time the mother had ever seen a film--both were riveted) before coming to our home for warm soup and settling in for a night's rest before flying out to Iraq the next day.

Thanks to all readers for sharing in the story of God's grace poured out in the life of this precious little girl.

Harseen's Smiling Return to Jerusalem

Posted on Wed, 11/24/2010 - 00:00 by Mary_Dailey


Today we had two pleasant surprises. First, Wolfson Hospital called in the morning telling us to bring Sara to Tel Aviv for surgery tomorrow. Then, when we arrived the doctors told us that Harseen would be coming back with us to Shevet Achim in the afternoon. Everyone at the house was missing her; she is so precious. When I first saw her she was all smiles. And she was delighted to see Sara. The two girls were put in beds next to each other. Harseen was so happy, and was sharing pretzels and candy.

Everyone here at Shevet Achim is glad to have Harseen back. She seems to be doing very well, except for a slight cough which all the children seem to have after surgery. She should have a follow-up echo in about a weeks time. We thank you so much for your prayers and would appreciate it if you would continue praying for her during her time of recovery.

Harseen in ICU with a Beautiful Sweetness

Posted on Sun, 11/21/2010 - 00:00 by Michelle_Bradburn

When I first saw Harseen this morning she was snuggled up in her mother's arms, just resting. After a while she began to wobble around a bit, and amused herself quietly and creatively with some art supplies in the play room. The doctors said she was fine, but I think she's just feeling rather weak and insecure after such a major operation. Adding to that, I'm sure it had to be disappointing for her to see her three buddies (Ahmed, Hastiyar, and Hemin) released to return to Jerusalem, while she stayed behind in the ICU.

She didn't smile much today, but her sweet spirit still shone through the gloom, even to the end of the day. Just before we headed home with the rest of the patients, I quickly slipped back into the ICU where she was tearfully taking some medicine the nurse had given her. To help take the nasty taste away, her mom offered her a cookie from a small pack she had. Harseen took one cookie, but said she wanted to give the rest to Ahmed. How sweet, that even in her less-than-happy condition, she was still thinking of the happiness of her friends!

I pray that God will use these next few days in the hospital to strengthen Harseen's little body as she recovers from her operation. There is a beautiful sweetness in her spirit, even in the weariness. I trust as she waits and rests that God, who has been caring for her since the beginning, will supply her with new strength, peace, and laughter.


"Her Heart is Working Fine Now"

Posted on Wed, 11/17/2010 - 00:00 by Donna_West


As I entered the ward at Wolfson Hospital at 7:25 AM this morning I was greeted by three Kurdish mothers asking, "Where is Um (mother of) Harseen?" I needed to start looking from where the process begins: the child's room. I wasn't there during admission, so I had a few rooms to check before realizing she was not there. After several trips looking in likely places I found her sitting outside the operating room. After hugs and greetings she was more than willing to leave that area for a brighter spot to wait. We went to the sunlit waiting room we refer to as the "Fish Room" near the main entrance and watched some silly somethings on TV that neither of us could understand. We passed the time greeting concerned new friends who were sharing similar experiences in different stages of their child's healing process.

When Hemin, another Shevet child from Kurdistan, was called to the ICU to be prepared for surgery, it was the signal Harseen's surgery was complete. Although all attention was now diverted to Hemin and his mother, we knew Harseen would be brought up to ICU within 45 minutes or so, and that it would then be another 45 minutes before Um Harseen could see her little girl. We did catch a quick glimpse of Harseen being wheeled from the operating room to the ICU. Just before this, Dr. Horey (the ICU doctor) told Harseen's mother, "Everything went well and her heart is working fine now." Harseen's mother was relieved enough to be willing to join me for lunch. After lunch she spent some time with her sleeping daughter and was a great support to the other mother's around her, not only from Kurdistan but also from Gaza and Portugal. We are thankful for God's grace to this child and her family. Because her heart is now functioning better, her oxygen levels are the best they have ever been. We look forward to hearing of continued improvement for Harseen. Please continue to pray for her recovery.

A Surprise: Harseen to Wolfson for Surgery

Posted on Tue, 11/16/2010 - 00:00 by Jennifer_Chang


It was a pleasant surprise to both Harseen's mother and Donna Petrel when the Wolfson Hospital called late this morning to say that Harseen could be admitted today and possibly go for surgery tomorrow morning. The Shevet van driven by Suhail had already left for Wolfson earlier that morning with another family (Hemin and his mother), so Harseen and her mother went in the car with Donna and Michelle, arriving at the hospital close to 1pm. With the addition of these 2 children, we have a total of 4 children (Ahmed, Hastiyar, Hemin and Harseen) with their mothers all at Wolfson today!

Shortly after arriving, Harseen was taken to the nurses station for the usual routine tests. She seemed to take it all in stride initially...until it came to the blood test, which must have hurt because she burst into tears. And it must have also been a heart-rending sight for the mother to take in, because she herself was moved to tears as well.

Once the test was over, Harseen was assigned to the same bed that Hastiyar had previously occupied and she just fell sound asleep soon, exhausted from crying. The surgery slot was scheduled for 8am tomorrow (1st in the line-up) and the nurse asked Suhail to help with translating the information to Harseen's mother. The other families came to join them in the room and we left them to enjoy one another's company at the end of our visit. Once again, we commit Harseen's entire surgery into God's almighty and loving hands, trusting Him for a successful outcome.

Harseen's Echo Gives Reason for Optimism

Posted on Thu, 11/04/2010 - 00:00 by Mary_Dailey

Today we took Harseen to Wolfson to complete her preliminary heart echo and PPD test for tuberculosis. It was another long day of waiting. They couldn't do the echoes until after lunch, so we took the children and moms to eat (Hastiyar, a Kurdish boy, and his mother were also with us); the tests were done in the afternoon. Harseen was sedated and she slept through most of her echo. When she woke she began to cry, and Dr. Alona was there to gently finish the last few moments of the procedure.

Harseen has a complex disease called Tetrology of Falot, with four (tetra) separate deformities in her tiny heart organ. What is typically found in pediatric cardiology is that one heart deformity necessitates another to compensate for it. In Harseens case, this has happened four times. However, and encouragingly, the echo today revealed that Harseen surgery should be rather straight-forward, and for this we praise God. Even with this good news, however, Harseen is having around three cyanotic spells a day, with the symptoms of deep, rapid breathing, loss of consciousness, and blueness in the fingers, lips, and tongue. The cells throughout her body simply do not get the oxygen they need as a result of the inefficiencies of her heart.

Please pray that her surgery will be soon, because she wakes up every morning crying and pulling her hair, then passes out. Also pray that God will give her mother peace; she was crying today out of fear for her sick child here in Israel, and out of longing for her other child in Iraq.

Hanukkah Hopes for Harseen

Posted on Tue, 11/02/2010 - 00:00 by Donna_West

Sweet harseen arrived at Wolfson Medical Center this morning for her two week post-operative echo. After the quick procedure Dr. Alona gave Harseen's mother (whose name is Taban) an excellent progress report and reduced her medication. Taban's only question was, "How many more echoes before I can go home to my baby?" Being an Arabic speaker, Taban was able to make it very clear to Dr.Alona that she has another younger child at home crying for her mother. Dr.Alona told her that she understood the urgency of her request, and her answer was: If Harseen continues to improve, next week will be her final echo and she will be released to return to Iraq.

With the hope of a soon return home, Taban and Harseen were able to enjoy the company of the mothers from Gaza who were nearby with their children. Taban's ability to understand a fair amount of basic English (along with some pantomime) and translate it into Arabic made an enjoyable visit with the Gaza mothers while the kids played with Hanukkah toys, candy, and balloons. Please be in prayer for Harseen, her mother Taban, and their family in Kurdistan in northern Iraq. Although we have grown to love Harseen and Taban, we also look forward to the day when they can be reunited with their loved ones.


Harseen Makes Her First Visit to Wolfson

Posted on Tue, 11/02/2010 - 00:00 by Mary_Dailey

I had the delightful pleasure of taking Harseen and Hastiyar, our two new children from Kurdistan, to Wolfson for their first appointment today, with Gadi along to drive and help. The hospital was very busy and we didn't get to see the doctor's until almost lunch time. Because of the delay, Harseen will have her first echo and PPD test for tuberculosis on Thursday.

The children were very good during the long day of waiting, and their mothers were also quite patient. The only time the children cried was when they got their blood work done. I noticed that whereas Hastiyar, the boy, is very active and happy, Harseen is more quiet, but also happy.

We started the day in the Fish Room, the waiting lounge at Wolfsons Childrens Ward. Rick from England was there to help with the Gaza children (who were also at the hospital today), bringing balloons for all the kids to play with. Harseen spent time looking at Kurdish childrens books, and slept. I noticed that her hands and mouth were a bluish color. And her fingernails are starting to club a little. Her mother says that she has difficulty breathing and sleeps a lot.

They played all afternoon in many different ways and we all had fun watching them. This also gave me a chance to get acquainted with our new mothers, and they are a delight. Who would think that waiting all day in the hospital would be fun, but God's ways are not our ways and I believe times like these are for ministering to our families. Please hold this precious little girl, Harseen, up in prayer.

Bluish Harseen Reaches Jordan

Posted on Sun, 10/31/2010 - 00:00 by Jonathan Miles

Two-and-a-half-year-old Harseen and her mother reached Jordan by air from northern Iraq on Saturday evening, and they were waiting cheerfully when our coworker Dirk found them inside the customs area at the airport. After resting today with Dirk's family we will set out early Monday morning for Jerusalem.

Harseen's bluish color is caused by the heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot, which left her with an oxygen saturation level of only 79% at normal at her last examination inside Iraq. We hope to have her at the hospital in Tel Aviv for her first pre-surgical examinations on Tuesday of this week.