Elaf 's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Healthy and Active Back Home In Iraq

Posted on Tue, 05/05/2009 - 01:00 by Justin_and_Dorothy

We were escorted to Elaf's house in Kurdistan by the family of Havan and were welcomed into their living room. Elaf was playing cheerfully. She looked very healthy and has gained a lot of weight.

I look back and remember her having spells every other day during and after the screening in Jordan where she would turn totally blue and would look as if she were dying. This was so frightening to us that it was decided to bring her straight to the hospital. She stayed there for a week until we finally got her emergency visa. I remember the cardiologist at the Jordan hospital telling me that it was a waste of time to invest in such a complex case and that by now she would probably have extensive brain damage (through the frequent spells). He repeated that again when I passed by the hospital after her return to Jordan to pick up some medication and was very surprised to see her post-operative medical report.

Remembering this made us all the more thankful towards God to be able to see her now healthy and active. It's such a blessing to see this family being touched by the love of God. We pray that this will bear fruit for eternity. Please continue to lift up this child in your prayers, and her family too.

Elaf and Mom Make Their Way Back to Iraq

Posted on Sat, 01/17/2009 - 06:44 by Dirk

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How would God deal with these four problems?

* Lost airplane ticket

* Empty oxygen bottles
* Problem with the van
* Lack of time

The last leg of the journey for Alaa, Hemin, Elaf and Wahaj was a real adventure.

Hemin and his mother had been waiting at our house for three days for their return flight and they were a little bored. However, once Wednesday came and they were joined by the other three Iraqi families there was no time for boredom.


We were all very happy to be able to host Elaf, Wahaj, Alaa and their mothers here again. So, the night was filled with talking, praising God, sorting out things, looking at pictures and a little sleep. All the time Alaa s oxygen generator was humming in the background.


The return flight was scheduled for 1 PM and we knew we would need the morning hours to get out list of things completed. One of the mothers had lost her return ticket, so we had to rush to Amman to get a new one at the Iraqi airways office. Also, Alaa had used up almost all of her supply of oxygen on the way, so we needed to get a refill for her.


We tried to start the day early, but our van would not start, despite the fact that we had just received it back from the garage two days before. It took us awhile to get it started by pushing and rolling it down the hill. Fortunately, Dirk was still there and could help with this procedure.


While Dirk drove off to Amman with the old van, Manuela tried to get a new supply of oxygen at the Italian hospital in Karak. We found the man who usually takes care of refilling oxygen tanks for the hospital, but the connectors to these oxygen tanks would not fit the tank that Alaa had brought over from Israel. This man was able to give Manuela the address and phone number of the company in Amman where we could get the oxygen bottle refilled. Praise God!


Praise God also for the new Shevet van that we received a day earlier. This additional van allowed Manuela to take the remaining three patients to the airport. Alaa had just enough oxygen in her bottle to get to the airport.


As Manuela drove the patients to the airport, Dirks was in Amman battling time. It can take hours in the city to get from point A to point B. Dirk reached the Iraqi airways office an hour later than anticipated. He managed to secure a new ticket, but still had to find an oxygen refill for Alaa.


Manuela reached the airport in time. She was able to inform the Iraqi Airway officials about the oxygen generator, and show him Alaas medical report, which clears her to fly.


Once all of these things were completed Alaas oxygen bottle was almost empty. Manulea had already begun searching for a power outlet to connect the oxygen generator to.


Because all of the luggage was in Dirks van and he had not yet arrived, we were unable to proceed with the check-in process. The next two hours were very stressful for Manuela and the three mothers that were waiting with her.


Dirk was attempting to rush through Amman to try and find the company that provides the oxygen. Forty-five minutes before the fight was scheduled to leave Dirk picked up the oxygen and began to make his way back to the airport.


Dirk reached the airport at 1 PM, the scheduled time of departure for this flight. The Iraqi Airway official understandably became more and more impatient.


Eventually, he left and two friendly airport assistants waited with the mothers. We had considered taking all of the patients and mothers back home and have them fly with the next flight three days later, but we prayed against this option.


The Iraqi mothers and Hemin spent most of the time on the phone with their relatives at home explaining to them the situation. Consequently, in the midst of the chaos, Dirk was receiving calls from nervous fathers in Iraq asking him to hurry up.


In the end, the flight left an hour late because they waited for our group of mothers. Thank you Lord and thank you Iraqi Airways for this grace!


Quickly, the empty oxygen bottle was replaced with the full one. Without time to say goodbye, the mothers were escorted away with the airport assistants. We would like to ask Gods blessing on them. God is waiting for them in the same way the plane waited for them. Even though their departure was delayed, they did arrive home safely and in good health!




Safely Into Jordan

Posted on Wed, 01/14/2009 - 00:00 by Justin_Strong

Elaf enjoyed her last day in Israel today. Before setting off to Jordan we prayed over Elaf and her mother for a safe journey and a healthy heart. On the ride to the Jordanian border we dropped by the Dead Sea and stopped by a camel named Soshi on the highway.

Elaf and her mother had to be thoroughly inspected at a checkpoint along the way. They had to empty every one of their bags, and dogs inspected the van, but after about an hour and a half they were allowed to pass.

Elaf was jubilant as always as we rode the bus over the border. The long journey was tiring on everyone but Elaf seemed no worse for wear. Once in Jordan we left Elaf and mother in the hands of Dirk our Jordan liaison and waved a cheerful goodbye.

100% Success

Posted on Mon, 01/12/2009 - 00:00 by Justin_and_Dorothy

Sunday morning we took Elaf in for an echocardiogram but found out once we arrived at the hospital that her echo was actually scheduled for Monday.

Rather than drive the hour back to Jerusalem we thought it would be a great opportunity to take her to the Sea.

Elaf couldn't stop smiling as she played in the water with her mom and had a great experience playing on the beach.

Today, Elaf received her final echo assessment and a clean bill to return to Iraq, without any medication. This will be possible in the next day or so. The surgical report stated that there was a 100% success. It is a delight to see this little girl running around and playing freely with other children. We are so grateful for your love and prayers which have helped enable this little girl, so full of life, to become fully involved with life reaching her normal milestone. God is so good.

On The Move

Posted on Mon, 01/05/2009 - 00:00 by Dorothy_Finlay

Elaf had her second echo assessment today and this showed a healing heart and doctors were pleased. If her third echo is as good, next Monday she and Mum will be preparing for Iraq. Although she prefers the stroller, Elaf has begun to take to her feet and is on the move. The healing of her heart is in response to the good hand of the Lord being upon this little girl. She is so full of life and enthusiasm, her mother is running to catch up. Thank you for praying for Elaf and her Mum.

Heart Is Healing Well

Posted on Mon, 12/29/2008 - 00:00 by Dorothy_Finlay

Today was Elaf's first echocardiogram assessment at Wolfson following her operation. She dutifully screamed at the doctor who gave her the indignity of sloshing cold gel over her chest to monitor the echcardiogram. Nothing would pacify her!! But it was rewarding to learn that her heart is healing well and she is on track for a full and normal recovery.

Tomorrow we will be able to return Elaf and her mother back to our center in Jerusalem after a challenging time at the Save A Child's Heart House where she met her new Zanzibar friends. The staff of SACH (Save a Child's Heart) with whom Shevet works closely, have been very helpful when our seams have become stretched.

Elaf is an inquisitive child who likes to toddle around and explore her environment. Mum is grateful to God for all that He has done.

Bubbly Elaf Has Left the Hospital

Posted on Wed, 12/24/2008 - 00:00 by Dorothy_Finlay

Fully expecting to return to Jerusalem with us, Elaf's mother was not very pleased to be told she should stay until Monday at the Save a Child's Heart house near the hospital. However, with the mother of Wahaj (pictured above right) for company and able to share a room, she brightened up.

Elaf is a bubbly little girl and was so pleased to see Wahaj. She will return to Wolfson for final echo assessment next Monday, when she and Wahaj may be released to return to Iraq together.

Please pray that the Lord will give peace to her mother about the need for them to stay away from Jerusalem . SACH partly funds the surgery for the children and is happy to offer their excellent facilities when Jerusalem facilities are full up as at present. Trust that the Lord will work in her Mum's life over these days too. Thank you for your support for these children.


Awake and Recovering Well

Posted on Thu, 12/18/2008 - 00:00 by Justina

When I visited the ICU today, Elaf was just waking up for the first time since her surgery. At first she was all smiles. Then she discovered the restraints on her hands and her temper flared. After repeated attempts to calm her, the nurses gave her a sedative to help her sleep. She was resting peacefully when I left and her blood oxygen level was at 100%. The doctors say her recovery from surgery is going well. Elafs mom was so thankful that the surgery was finally over that she remained unruffled even in the face of her daughter's anger.

A Full Repair, No Need For Second Surgery

Posted on Wed, 12/17/2008 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

Elaf's mother got her prayers answered today, and she knew it had happened when Dr. Sasson spoke with her after Elaf's surgery. He came by on his way to the ICU and told us Elaf would be upstairs shortly. He then reported that Elaf was doing very well, they were able to do a full repair of her heart, and she would not need a second surgery. Praise God!

Elaf's mother's face lit up with joy, and she turned to me and asked me to verify it, as if trying to be sure she really understood it correctly and could believe it was really true. Throughout the afternoon hours she would smile broadly, and again say to me, "Elaf's surgery is finished! We don't have to come back for another one! Praise God!"

It is such a joy to know that there will be no more cyanotic spells to threaten Elaf's life. Her case was so volatile that even in the OR waiting room there was an oxygen bottle, a pulse oximeter, and a doctor with Elaf until she went to the OR. And later in the morning we were told that the surgery began late because she had a spell once she went to OR, even though she was heavily sedated before leaving her mother's arms. Had I not been told she'd had a spell in the OR, I'd never had known. Elaf went into surgery with a blue pallor to her skin, and now is beautifully pink with the proper oxygenation of blood in her body.

As I left her this evening, I suggested to Elaf's mom that she sleep well tonight, since tomorrow Elaf would be awake and want her mother all the time. Already when we visited Elaf this afternoon she was shaking her head "no" in her sleep when she would hear someone speaking, or hear a noise in the ICU, so I expect her expressive personality will return as soon as she's awake. And since she's just learned to stand alone in the past week, I'm thinking that when she is strong enough she will begin to walk everywhere!

As you pray for Elaf's recovery, praise God for all He has done so far to heal Elaf's heart. Pray that Elaf will be calm during her recovery, and can leave the ICU quickly like her good friend Wahaj did today.

Stable Again After Oxygen Level Falls to 28%; Surgery Postponed

Posted on Sun, 12/14/2008 - 00:00 by Justina

Elaf was scheduled to be at Wolfson Hospital in Tel Aviv on 6 PM Saturday evening to prepare her for surgery the next morning. She had been feeling bad all day and just before we started to head out to the hospital she experienced another cyanotic seizure. After a short time of prayer we rushed off to catch a shared taxi to Tel Aviv. By the time we arrived at the hospital her blood oxygen level was at 28 percent, an extremely low and dangerous level.

The nurses immediately put her on oxygen and then began an IV drip. At this point, the hospital staff told us that Elaf's surgery might not take place the next morning because of a newborn who had arrived as an emergency, but she would be on standby.

Elaf's oxygen levels continued to rise and fall throughout the night, making it a long, rough night for both child and mom. We learned the next morning that her surgery was being postponed until Wednesday or at the latest Thursday morning. It was a relief to learn when we arrived at the hospital this morning for Wahaj's admission that Elaf's oxygen level was in the low 90% range, and also a relief that she will remain hospitalized until her surgery. Please continue to pray for this treasured little girl and her mother.

Our volunteer Dorothy adds:

The sky was trying to rain most of the morning and sadly this reflected little Elaf's situation as she continued to be very blue when she cried and got excited. Her little heart couldn't cope and her ovygen levels fell seriously. However, when she return to a restful state the levels rose dramatically. As the senior nurse commented that it is necessary to keep her calm. It is so hard for this vivacious, bouncy little girl to rest. Please pray that the Lord will put His peace upon her and that Elaf's surgery will soon be possible. Surround her mother with prayers that she will come sense His Presence in the room with them both. It was a joy to pray with her before returning to Jerusalem. "The Lord is good to all who call on Him."