Alaa 's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Alaa Leaves Israel After Only Four Weeks

Posted on Sat, 03/14/2009 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel


A sleepy but happy Alaa and her mother were ready to head for the Jordan border early yesterday morning. It was hard for all of us to believe that it had been scarcely four weeks since their arrival, and already Alaa was well enough to return to her family in Iraq. They were very excited, and as we prayed for them, we expressed how thankful and joyful we are to send a healed child and grateful parent home after seeing how God has brought them and given them the blessing of heart surgery. We know He does much more than the eye can see while our families are here, and we love sending them home with God's blessing and trust for how He will continue to reveal Himself to them.

Yesterday we left particularly early in order to meet little Bruska at the border and transport her straight to Schneider Hospital. It was a beautiful morning, and we were ahead of the traffic rush as we left downtown Jerusalem. As we drove through the Jordan valley, I was on the lookout for the wildflowers I'd heard were in full bloom there so I could point them out to our departing guests. We were not disappointed when we wound our way through the northern part of the route and came upon meadows blooming with a variety of colorful flowers. I couldn't resist the opportunity for a quick photo-snapping and flower-picking stop, which delighted Alaa and her mother too.

All of us were thankful as we were waved through the checkpoint not far from the border, as in the past few months we've had to stop and unload for security every time. We arrived at the crossing terminal in good time, and were able to send Alaa and her mother across almost totally synchronized with Dirk's sending over from Jordan our two new patients, Bruska and Akram.

As we waited for the bus, Um Alaa expressed many thanks to all of us for all of the help they'd received. We were all watching Alaa, wearing her Purim crown and butterfly wings received as gifts at the hospital, playing, running, riding the luggage carts as if they were giant scooters. The joy of seeing her daughter healthy was obvious in Um Alaa's face. She told me she would be thinking about all of us as she was on the plane to Iraq, and wanted to email us a picture of Alaa from their home. It is clear her heart is moved, and we know she has much good seed in it to consider as she remembers everything which they experienced here. Let us join together in thanking God for all He has done, and will do, for Alaa and her family, because of the opportunity He gave them to come here.

Cleared To Go Home To Iraq

Posted on Tue, 03/10/2009 - 06:41 by Justin_Strong

We took Alaa to Wolfson Medical Center in Tel Aviv today for her first follow-up echocardiogram. After a short wait we were brought into the echo room where Alaa threw her usual fit when she has doctors around her; but the news was
better than we expected. Alaa was cleared to return home to Iraq, and after
just one echo!

It's the Jewish holiday Purim today, and one of the practices is to give charity, hospitalized children being prime candidates, so Alaa spent some time collecting toys and candy from visitors while we got Halo ready to come with us to Jerusalem as well. Alaa and Halo got a picture with some of the visitors dressed for the occasion and eager to show them a little love as we left.

On our way back to Jerusalem we all stopped by Tel Ha Shomer hospital to visit Rasan and his mother after his surgery. After visiting them we walked to the nearby Burger King and had a delightful meal together, complete with more toys, balloons, and crowns.

We arrived safely in Jerusalem after a long but exciting day.

Discharged Just Four Days After Surgery

Posted on Sun, 03/01/2009 - 00:00 by Justin_Strong
Alaa came home today after having open-heart surgery just 4 days ago. She can't jump off the walls quite the same as she did before surgery just yet, but the fact that she is up and walking around, playing, and laughing this shortly after surgery is really remarkable.

When I first saw Alaa this afternoon in the hospital she was walking down the hall the other way, I called out her name and she turned around, and a big smile came across her face. She was obviously very happy to see Donna and I and asked where we had been (she hadnt been awake to see us since her surgery). After collecting her toys and clothes and playing for a short time in the hospital we came home to Jerusalem where we had a welcome home party with all the Shevet staff and our guests.

Mother Emotional And Thankful On Surgery Day

Posted on Wed, 02/25/2009 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel


It was necessary for me to remain in Jerusalem this morning, so I was not able to be with Alaa's mom when she was taken to the surgery room--a difficult situation for both of us, as I feel it's so important to be with the mothers when their children go to surgery. When we arrived at the hospital, Alaa's mother was sitting outside the ICU waiting room, and when I went to her she buried her head in my shoulder and cried and cried. She had been so afraid about everything, and up until last night there was uncertainty from her husband about whether Alaa might need only a catheterization. A late call to the doctors verified that her condition did need a surgery (a relatively simple one as open-heart surgeries go) to correct her problem. The stress of this took a toll on Alaa's mom, and she was still rather overwhelmed by everything happening this morning.

After she settled down, she explained to me that Alaa had just come out of surgery, and was in the ICU, but she had not yet been able to go in to see her. We talked for a few more minutes, and I decided to go check with the doctors to see if Alaa's mom could come in to see her. Everything needed to settle Alaa in the ICU was done, so her mother was able to come in. She was overwhelmed again with thanks that Alaa was okay. Her oxygen level was at 100%, and it was hoped she could be extubated already today.

She made the call to home after seeing that Alaa was doing well, and when she got off the phone, I found out she hadn't eaten. I took her meal ticket to get her a tray, along with Havan's mother, who also had not eaten yet. We shared a meal together, and then I got a call to go to the Gaza border with Mohammad Fara, who was dismissed today. I was not able to get back to the hospital this evening as I'd hoped to do, but am confident that tomorrow I will find Alaa awake and looking forward to playing more UNO games as soon as possible!

Please pray that Alaa's mom can get enough sleep to sustain her strength as she attends to Alaa during the recuperation period. I am hopeful that Alaa will not be afraid as she awakens, but will be restful rather than agitated, and able to quickly heal and move into the ward. Will you join me in prayer for this?

Prepped For Tomorrow's Surgery

Posted on Tue, 02/24/2009 - 00:00 by Justin_Strong


We brought Alaa and Halo to Wolfson Medical Center in Tel Aviv today to be prepped for the surgeries they are both expected to undergo tomorrow. They sat together on the hospital bed while the nurses checked their basic vital signs. Alaa helped Halo wherever she could, making sure his blood pressure cuff was on right and pulled down his shirt for him when he laid on the bed exposing his stomach.

When it came time to take her blood and put the lines in her wrist, Alaa didn't think it was fun anymore. She b
ecame hysterical and had to be chased down from the hallway to get her to lay on the bed, and it required two
nurses and myself to restrain her during this process. She cried and screamed her loudest during the entire procedure and was very upset for some time afterward. At one point we even considered asking for something to sedate her with so that she would relax, but it turned out that chocolate pudding worked just as well. While the pudding got her to settle down some and stop screaming it was several games of Uno that brought her back to her normal joyful self and helped her forget the lines in her wrist. When I left she was sitting calmly with her mother in her hospital pajamas, no worse for

Surgery Expected To Be Simple

Posted on Mon, 02/16/2009 - 00:00 by Justina

We were off early this morning to Wolfson for pre-admission testing and a final echocardiogram for the three new arrivals. The hospital staff was ready and waiting when we arrived and got down to business immediately. All three children underwent the usual battery of tests: blood pressure, urine sample, blood samples, x-rays and echocardiograms.

Alaa's echo indicated that her surgery should be uncomplicated and will repair her heart so she can lead a normal life.

Active Alaa Arrives In Israel

Posted on Sun, 02/15/2009 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

Today Alaa and her mother arrived in Israel after a delay of a few days while we worked to finish some renovations in our Shevet center. Alaa is an active and independent little seven-year-old who seems to rarely sit still. She enjoyed trying to ride a bicycle with training wheels around the courtyard while outside, as well as investigating everything else around the inside and outside of the house.

Once she and her mother settled into their room, Alaa's mom began preparing a big, delicious dinner for everyone here at the house. It was fun to join around the table and get to know each other a little bit.

Tomorrow, along with Halo and Omed, Alaa will go to Wolfson Hospital for her initial echocardiogram and examination in Israel. We can pray that she is able to bravely endure the initial prodding and pricking as doctors begin determining their plan of treatment to repair her heart.