Hussein's Heart Surgery


Hussein Leaves Israel

Posted on Sun, 01/13/2008 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

After several weeks of follow-up echos for Hussein, Diyar and Delir, they were dismissed from Wolfson and the Save A Child's Heart house today to begin their joyful return to their homes and families. Each of these three boys came over as urgent or emergency cases, and are going home with new hope for a life and a future. Not only does this show on their faces, but it also shows on the faces of their grateful mothers. Really, everything about their lives has changed with this opportunity to come to Israel for the heart surgery they needed. Today was a celebration of the relationships made along the way, the encouragement from completed cases to arriving patients, the emotion of saying goodbye to friends made while sharing a very unique journey during which they all shared a bond of understanding others could never know.

The return to Iraq began with saying goodbye at the Save A Child's Heart house. Although the picture may look chaotic, the reality on the ground was that all of the women wanted to say goodbye to these three mothers and children who had reached the goal - well enough to go home at last! Hugs and tears were everywhere among us.

From the Save A Child's Heart house, we went to the hospital to say goodbye there. Hussein and Mustafa and their mothers had been together since the screening in Amman in early October, and had become very good friends. I watched as they parted, Hussein's mother both comforting and encouraging Mustafa's mother - this dear woman who had been so full of fear before, now nearly aglow with confidence in Mustafa's success after his second surgery. It was a sweet scene to me to see one able to help the other in time of need. And these women do this so beautifully.... the previously vulnerable ones becoming the strong encouragers.

Next we drove to Jerusalem so the families could see the Temple Mount and Garden Tomb. We shared some lunch, and though just a few weeks ago we were able to in the afternoon, today were too late to catch the window of time when the area is open to all faiths, so we walked through the Western Wall plaza to the gate nearby where our guests could go and pray to thank God for their child's health.

Afterwards we drove to the Garden Tomb only to find it closed because it is Sunday.

I realized as we set out on that walk that Diyar had been walking all this time and keeping a pretty good pace... Praise God! When he arrived in Israel he could not walk across the room without needing oxygen! Having accomplished our purpose for passing by Jerusalem, we left for the Jordan border.

God faithfully answered our prayers about the timing of our arrival on this very full day. Three of our Shevet efforts were converging at the Israeli-Jordan border early this evening, and it was my prayer that no one would have to wait for a long time for any of the others. With God's help, our van of departing patients arrived at the same time Dirk brought three new families from the Jordan side to enter Israel for their surgeries. Since two of the new patients (Diar and Bestoon) were going to Haifa, we had another van there to drive those families to their new host homes. We brought Rebar and his mother here to Jerusalem, and Dirk took the three families going back home to Amman to await their flights. Security in the Israeli terminal allowed us to work through the slight wait we had while the new patients finished clearing customs on the "Arrivals" side of the terminal. This allowed the new families to meet the ones departing with new hearts - what an encouraging way to begin their stay in Israel!

As we walked Hussein, Diyar and Delir and their mothers to the bus which would take them with Dirk over to Jordan, there were many thanks to God and to us as representatives of Shevet Achim for helping them come. They said to thank the doctors and the Save A Child's Heart house staff. They are different women now, having experienced a new land and culture, endured the trial of their child's surgery and recuperation, and grown as they've persevered and encouraged each other to do the same. Your prayers have helped carry them through every step! Please continue to pray that they will understand that the God of love has been there as well, for each and every one of them.

Full of Life and Joy

Posted on Thu, 01/10/2008 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

Hussein was in the hospital today for what is likely to be his last echo, thank God!! I didn't expect to see him and his mother, but it was a pleasant surprise. Hussein was delightedly watching himself in the hallway mirror while I talked with his mother. I was delightedly watching him, now so full of life and joy. God has truly given this little one a new chance at life. His mother's face also reflects a joy and peace that are beautiful to see, and I am fulfilled when I see these things.

We hope to be able to take Hussein and his mother, along with Diyar and Delir and their mothers, to the border on Sunday, on their way back home. Hussein has been away from Iraq since arriving in Amman in early October for the echocardiogram screening there. I look forward to seeing them off. Keep praying for them as we prepare for this happy day.

Blooming Before Our Eyes

Posted on Mon, 12/24/2007 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

I glanced into the 'fish room' waiting area at the hospital to see if any of the mothers I knew might be there, and saw the mother of Diyar walking towards me. She said that her son was having an echocardiogram check-up today, but was doing very well.

We walked together down the hall to the intermediate ICU, where I saw Hussein and his mother playing together with a puzzle. He was very content and looks great! The nurse said he would be moved to the ward this afternoon, but when I left he hadn't yet been moved.

Hussein, his mother and I played with stickers, a puzzle and a boat during our visit, and I believe I heard him laugh more today than at any time since we met back in October. Even though it may seem an exaggeration to say this, it appears to me that Hussein's eye-hand coordination has already made dramatic improvement compared to previous playtimes together. It is almost as though he is "blooming" before our eyes as he gets well. Thanks be to God!

His mother is also a different woman; she is very happy now that Hussein is healing, and she is continuously pausing to thank God for the life of her son.

Keep praying for Hussein's body to be totally healed. Pray for the love of God to transform his mother so that she too goes home with a new heart, full of the knowledge of this love. Join us in giving thanks for how much this mother and son have already changed, and for God's ability to complete what He begins.

Second Surgery This Morning

Posted on Tue, 12/18/2007 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

I was eager to see Hussein and his mother today after being unable to sit with them during his surgery yesterday because I was in Haifa with the new patients there. My friend Robin had been with Hussein's mother until he was brought out of surgery, and I had spoken to both of them several times. Yet when I arrived at the hospital I found out that Hussein had yet another surgery this morning! The doctors had hoped to do an arterial switch on Hussein's heart yesterday, and worked for five hours trying to make it succeed, but in the words of Dr. Houri, his body rejected it. Because of this, a second surgery was needed very soon to perform an atrial switch instead. Thank God, that surgery was done successfully this morning, and Hussein is now stable and still sedated and intubated in the ICU. If all goes well, they hope to remove the breathing tube tomorrow.

I looked anxiously for Hussein's mother when I walked into the ICU this afternoon, but instead, saw only the nurses working around Hussein's bed. I watched them taking care of his medicines and vital signs for a little while, and had opportunity to talk with Dr. Houri. I prayed for Hussein, and had time to chat with several of the Palestinian mothers whose babies have also come through their surgeries and are now recovering. Then just as I was about to go find Hussein's mother, she came into the room, and we had a happy reunion for a moment before we walked to Hussein's bedside together. She is concerned about Hussein but thanking God that he is through these surgeries. I shared with her that Dr. Houri said he is doing well, and will not need more surgery at this time. She remarked about the oxygenation rate of 99-100% on the monitor above Hussein's bed, and showed me the evidence of good oxygenation - pink fingernails! I had already noticed that Hussein's coloring is different because of this oxygenated blood available to his body. But every time I get to see a child come out of surgery and this change is noted, I cannot help but thank God for what He is doing to save these young lives.

As you might imagine, Hussein's mother has not had sleep for the last two nights. She is very tired, and I encouraged her to sleep tonight while Hussein is sleeping peacefully under sedation. After he awakes, it will be harder for her to be away from him so she can sleep. Please pray that she will get rest so she is strong and can persevere through his recovery period. Pray too that Hussein will have a full recovery, and a speedy one, with God's continued help.

Stable After Seven-Hour Surgery

Posted on Mon, 12/17/2007 - 00:00 by Jai_Rubens

Left to right: Mustafa's mother; Robin; Hussein's mother holding Mustafa;
and Rayan's mother.
The mothers' faces are blurred at their request, for added safety after their return to Iraq.

It was my first time going alone to Wolfson, and it turned out to be a very good adventure. When you send your request to the Lord, He always undertakes in special ways.

Once I arrived at the entrance to the operating room waiting area, someone was very nice in punching in the code for the doors to open so I could go in. I recognised Mustafa's mother - she speaks English and she was so happy to see me. Mustafa's mother told me that she and Rayan's mother decided to accompany Hussein's mother to the hospital as she would be alone for a long time while Hussein was being operated on. We sat there waiting for a while and then one of the nurses who was in the operating room with the first operation came out and talked with Mustafa's mother and me, and said it would be a long time before Hussein's mother comes outside, so we should go and have something to eat.

Mustafa's mother and I went to the waiting room upstairs and after a short while Hussein's mother came up with Robin (a volunteer) and we sat there and prayed for Hussein's mother. She was very happy to receive the prayers which Mustafa's mother translated for Hussein's mother. Robin had come in today and was going to spend the time with Hussein's mother until Hussein came out of surgery. Tonight she reported that Hussein came out of surgery around 7:30 p.m. Robin was able to pray for and comfort the mother, who was both nervous and relieved! Hussein is currently stable in the ICU.

It was wonderful to see how the love of our Lord spreads especially as the two mothers came along to be with Hussein's mother while her son was in surgery.

I felt truly blessed to see the hand of the Lord on all these mothers and their children and how grateful they are for what is being done for them.

I had taken my knitting with me and showed the ladies what I had done while travelling in the shared taxi to the hospital. Mustafa's mother asked me if she could knit a row and I let her and she was so happy to do it - see the photo.

I am thankful for this opportunity to be blessed with these mothers and their children and Robin.

Update:  Hussein to Surgery Monday Morning

Posted on Sun, 12/16/2007 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel
Hussein's long-postponed surgery has been rescheduled for Monday morning. Watch this space Monday evening for a full update if his surgery takes place. The photo above was taken of Hussein and Mustafa as Hussein was leaving the hospital last week.

Surgery Tomorrow

Posted on Mon, 12/03/2007 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

We found Hussein and his mother in the children's ward today when we arrived to be with Delir's mother during his surgery. Hussein was undergoing pre-op tests because his surgery is rescheduled for tomorrow morning. Hussein's mother was both relieved and anxious over this reality. I accompanied her and Hussein to his blood test because I knew it would be traumatic for him, since he is fearful of all the tests even when they do not hurt. There was a small bird's nest with birds inside on a ledge near the bed where Hussein was undergoing his test, and this soothed him because he likes birds. After his tests he was a happy camper when I saw him in the ward. His mother was showing a bit of anxiety, but I assured her I'd be there with her to sit with her. Please pray for her as the surgery approaches in the morning. Pray for Hussein as he goes through the trauma just before the surgery of separating from his mother, and that he will come through with the evidence of God's healing touch on his life.

Six Teeth Pulled

Posted on Sun, 12/02/2007 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

We learned today that because of the emergent need for surgery for little Delir, Hussein's surgery will be postponed. The dental work he needed was finished on Friday - six teeth pulled! - and the doctors hoped to perform his surgery immediately afterwards. When I visited the Save A Child's Heart house this evening, his mother wondered why the surgery was changed, and as she understood that without surgery tomorrow Delir might not live, she was able to accept the need to wait.
Please keep praying for Hussein and his mother. It was a joy for me to reunite with them a few nights ago after bringing the newest patients over from Jordan. It had been a few weeks since I'd gotten to see them because of planning for the newest cases, and traveling to Jordan to work on their visas.

But Hussein is an urgent case too, and this concerned mother is having a hard time being patient. We'll let you know when his surgery is re-scheduled.

Massive Dental Work Needed

Posted on Tue, 11/27/2007 - 00:00 by Lee_Liang_Chian

The last time I met Hussein was at the Save A Child's Heart house in Azur almost three weeks ago, and that's where he has been since. This evening I went over to Azur after my trip to Wolfson hospital and found Hussein in the midst of a roomful of colorful toys, and he seemed rather busy and torn between playing with two different toys at the same time!

The Save A Child's Heart staff brought Hussein to the dentist this morning for a check-up, and it is confirmed that he will need massive dental work. It seems that Hussein's poor dental condition is somehow related to his heart problems, and the Wolfson doctors have advised that Hussein should get his dental treatment before he is scheduled for his heart operation.

When I asked his mother how bad were Hussein's teeth, Hussein gamely opened his mouth wide for me to peek into. All his upper front teeth are missing, and because of insufficient lighting to examine his oral cavity closely, I couldn't make out if the teeth had dropped off or if they had never actually grown out properly. On occasions such as this, I wish I knew Arabic so that I could ask Hussein's mother for more details!

Hussein hardly talks, but he is quite expressive in his own way. When I was about to leave the house, his mother told Hussein to wave good-bye to me, but he chose instead to give me his own version of a "Hi-5" by thumping his little hand against my palm tirelessly.

A Nice Surprise

Posted on Wed, 11/07/2007 - 00:00 by George_Nissan_age_13

High-school students from the Anglican International School in Jerusalem joined Shevet Achim for a two-day community service project. Today's assignment included visiting Iraqi and Gazan patients at Wolfson Medical Center and at the Save A Child's Heart children's house; and by day's end, blogging on the children they had become acquainted with. Shevet thanks the AISJ students who freely gave of their time and energy!

Today I visited Hussein Ali Hamoud who is three years and four months old. He is waiting for surgery on his heart. I will be praying for him to recover soon so that he will be able to live a normal life in the future; to play and go to school like all other children as he grows.

I was also very happy to be able to translate into Arabic for the students on our team. Since I am new to the Anglican School, it was a nice surprise for me to see this special work done in Israel for sick children from poorer countries.