Akhlas's Heart Surgery


A Sunrise Flight Home

Posted on Sun, 08/30/2009 - 07:41 by Jonathan Miles
Akhlas and Akram were up before dawn, eager to be on their way home to reunion with their beloved baby Ishaq. The Sunday morning sunrise bathed their plane in light on the tarmac, a promise of new life ahead.

And tonight the first pictures have reached us from back home in Iraq of Ishaq's joyful first embrace with his newly-healthy mother!

How we thank God for the way he has poured out grace in their lives, and ours.

Friends Always

Posted on Fri, 08/28/2009 - 01:00 by Jonathan Miles

Today Akhlas and Akram said goodbye to our Jerusalem staff, and left to cross the Jordan River on the first leg of their trip back to Iraq, and to baby Ishaq whom they are longing to see. We were surprised and touched when they gave $1000 from their limited resources for the ministry of Shevet Achim. Thinking quickly, in response we sent them off with a new car seat Akhlas had been wanting for Ishaq!

It's clear that Akhlas and Akram became truly family to our staff during our brief time together.

You may click the play arrow below to listen in as Akhlas says goodbye:

A Fun Finale

Posted on Thu, 08/27/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel
Today Akhlas and Akram had a chance to go to the Mediterranean Sea (following a very full day yesterday touring with us the City of David, Hezekiah's tunnel, and Temple Mount area excavations) . We found a nice spot on the beach, and everyone enjoyed some sun and waves. Akhlas admitted she had some fear of going out in the water very far, but she really enjoyed staying in the shallow waves - the tide was changing while we were there, and the current was quite strong. Akram, on the other hand, wanted to get out further and really experience the water.

After a while, some shell hunting began, and Akram found one of the nicest shells I've seen on the stretch of beach near Jaffa! They were excited to take these home to share. It was a great time enjoying the beauty of one of God's most magnificent creations, and a fun finale before they leave for home.

As you can see, Akhlas is active and reports a great increase in energy and well-being since her heart treatment last week. She feels ready now to go home and care for her toddler...and possibly bring another new life into the world!

Touching Israelis

Posted on Tue, 08/25/2009 - 01:00 by Jonathan Miles

It was back to the hospital today, as Akhlas weighed (and ultimately decided against) further treatment of a gall bladder problem. But we hadn't even made it into the building before an orthodox Jewish woman who had met Akhlas earlier in the hospital pulled her aside. She was full of questions as to how Akhlas had come to Israel from Iraq, and when she learned that Akhlas' baby back home is called Ishaq (Isaac) she asked me in astonishment, "Are they Jewish?"

Once inside there was an equally warm parting from Naomi in admissions, who had graciously assisted with all the paperwork, and even let Akhlas and Akram know how big a discount they had received!

In all these encounters we touch something deep in the consciousness of the Jewish people, a sense that all they've been through somehow has a purpose, and that they were chosen from the beginning to be a blessing to all peoples.

Almost Home

Posted on Thu, 08/20/2009 - 07:41 by Donna_Petrel
I met Akhlas and her husband Akram as they were walking upstairs for an echocardiogram this morning. The cardiologist who helped with the balloon catheterization done yesterday, Dr. Birk, wanted to see how the mitral valve looked today in order to determine if Akhlas could be dismissed. When they came back downstairs from the exam, Dr. Birk shared that she was very pleased with the results of Akhlas's echocardiogram. Shortly afterwards the entire report of the procedure was translated for them, and they had time to ask the doctor questions. 

The happy couple walked out of the hospital together thanking God!

Akhlas waved goodbye to Schneider, and headed back to Jerusalem. They

were advised that Akhlas should rest about a week, and then she would be home. Please join us in thanking God for His hand on Akhlas life during this procedure, and let's pray that her healing would be complete in every way.

Love for His Bride

Posted on Wed, 08/19/2009 - 01:00 by Jonathan Miles

The deep love of Akram for his bride was plain to see today, starting with Akram pacing the hallway while doctors attempted to open up Akhlas' mitral valve through balloon catheterization. Nearly two long hours passed before doctors emerged to say all had gone well, and that they had measured a 50% improvement in the function of the valve. Meanwhile Akhlas was taken by elevator to her room on the ward, and Akram hastened to catch up to her and see with his own eyes that his love was safe.

Once the nurses cleared out of the way, Akram moved in like a mother hen, anxious to see if Akhlas was responsive. Click the play arrow below to hear his first question: "Do I love you?" and see his smile when she nods yes!

When we left Akhlas was slowly becoming more alert as her general anesthesia wore off, and full of smiles.

If all goes well, she should be released to return to us in Jerusalem Thursday afternoon. We thank God for hearing the prayers of all of us who've been interceding for this lovely couple.

To the Hospital

Posted on Tue, 08/18/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel
Akhlas and Akram decided Monday that they have peace to go forward with the balloon dilation procedure, and today we took them to the hospital for admission. Akhlas was in good spirits, and her biggest concern seemed to be translation of the appropriate information between the appropriate people. Once we arrived, it was a little while before an Arabic speaking staff person could assist us, so we used that time to chat, and went downstairs for lunch together in the hospital. When we returned to the room, there was still more time of waiting, so we had a chance to hear how both Akram and Ahklas came to know the Lord, and each other. They also shared about their heart for serving God in their home city; it was a very special time together, with lots of smiles as these pictures show. 

When Robin and I noticed Akhlas becoming tired, we left the room so she could rest, and after a little while longer, the Arabic-speaking nurse was available. She instructed Akhlas and Akram about preparing for the catheterization as well as the paperwork involved, and then told them they could go out for the afternoon as long as they informed the staff. This was great news to them, and we walked together to a small mall attached to the main portion of the hospital, where Akhlas admitted that she preferred a sandwich from a restaurant there to the hospital tray she'd received. They requested prayer before we left, and we were able to have a few minutes of prayer together. We left them relaxing in the dining area, after which they planned to stroll through a small art gallery in the mall.

Please join us in prayer as we cover this dear couple in a special way at this time. Akhlas is scheduled to go to the catheterization lab at 11 am Wednesday for her procedure. Her doctors are Drs. Bruckheimer and Birk, and we'll be asking for wisdom as they attempt to discern just how far to dilate the mitral valve, without going too far.


Pondering Their Next Steps

Posted on Sun, 08/16/2009 - 01:00 by Jonathan Miles

Today Akhlas and Akram went to the beautiful Schneider Children's Medical Center in Israel and underwent a lengthy echocardiogram and discussion with the doctors. The doctors recommend a balloon dilation to reverse the narrowing of Akhlas' mitral valve, rather than surgery to replace it with an artificial valve. There are many factors which go into the timing of this procedure however, and Akhlas and her husband have returned to Jerusalem to pray and consider their options tonight.

A Fun Day on the Mount ofOlives

Posted on Sat, 08/15/2009 - 01:00 by Jonathan Miles
We set out with Akhlas and Akram this afternoon for a worship meeting in East Jerusalem, but spontaneously headed to the Mount of Olives when we found the congregation was meeting elsewhere today. Akhlas ended up atop a camel; click the play arrow below to see her come back down to earth:

After enjoying the the westward panoromic view of Jerusalem, we went to the other end of the mount to look eastward toward the Dead Sea and Judean wilderness. Akram throughout the trip enjoyed the opportunity to photograph his wife in these biblical settings.

Tomorrow morning by 9 am we hope to be on the road to the hospital for the first indications of which road doctors will take in treating Akhlas.  Watch this space for an update tomorrow night.

Akhlas Reaches Israel

Posted on Fri, 08/14/2009 - 01:00 by Jonathan Miles

Akhlas (pictured above right) and her husband Akram (below left) reached Jerusalem tonight after a nine-hour trip across the Jordan River from Amman, after delays of a few hours at Jordanian security checkpoints. They were joyfully greeted by the Iraqi families already here for their own children's heart surgeries.

A delicious Iraqi meal of chicken and rice was waiting for us and we enjoyed good fellowship around the table, Akhlas told us that after all she's been through (a terrible car accident while eight months pregnant, followed by a C-section with no anesthesia!) she has no fear of her surgery. The difficult thing for her is being away from her little boy Ishaq (Isaac), who stayed home with his grandmother in Baghdad.

We're settling in now for a hard-earned night's rest, and then a peaceful Sabbath in Jerusalem before reporting to the hospital Sunday morning.