Yousif's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Flying with a New Heart

Posted on Thu, 10/14/2010 - 06:53 by Donna_West
The trip today with Nima and Shilan (the Swedish journalists) to Schneider Children's Hospital to visit Yousif went like clock-work. The echo procedure showed a completely successful repair to Yousif's heart. When Yousif heard the good news his arms went out as if to say that he was ready to fly back home to Iraq and his family right then!

But first . . . we needed to meet with the doctor. From among Schneider's excellent medical staff we were able to find a doctor willing to explain on camera the nature of Yousifs operation: after patching the hole near the pulmonary valve, the surgical team opened the pulmonary artery with a stint and removed the pulmonary valve altogether, which will give Yousif the oxygenated blood flow he needs to grow into a strong and healthy young man. At some point (10-12 years in the future) when Yousif is fully grown, he may or may not need to have a valve put back into the pulmonary artery. However, as the science and technology continues to rapidly advance in heart repair, this may perhaps be accomplished through a heart catheterization, which is less invasive than surgery.

The benefit today of a fluent Kurdish speaker (Shilan) gave everyone involved the privilege of hearing the gratitude expressed by Yousif's mother to the doctors and hospital staff. She told the doctor, "For all of my life I will never forget what you have done for my son and my family." She then proceeded to offer blessings of health to the doctor, the staff and all their children - now and forever. It was a sincere moment that touched the heart of everyone present. With these same blessings in our heart for Yousif and his family we prepare to send them back to Iraq for a "happy family re-union" - being certain that they have been forever changed by their time in Israel and all they have experienced among God's people.



Brothers Dwelling Together

Posted on Wed, 10/06/2010 - 06:53 by Mary_Dailey
It looks like Yousif will have another delay and also need for more patience before he goes back to Iraq. He had his appointment for his echo this morning and everything seemed to go well, but the doctor had them do an ECG also. He said there is no need for alarm, that they just want to make sure everything is okay. So, it may take two more echoes before he can go. He and his mom didn't seem to mind at all.

Yousif was very happy and really is a delightful patient; he tried to help them all he could. After the echo he noticed a picture of the heart on the desk. I pointed to the picture and his chest, and then he wanted me to take a picture of him holding it in front of his face. The doctor suggested that he hold it up to his chest. We made sure he knew that thats what his heart looked like. When we finished we went to the cafeteria and all ate lunch.
Then we went to see Saad and took food to he and his mother. He went right to Saad's room and they were so happy to see each other. There seems to be a special bond between them. This goes with our scripture for Shevet Achim. Psalm 133:1 "How pleasant and good it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." This also includes our children.

Waiting and Helping

Posted on Sun, 10/03/2010 - 06:53 by Donna_West

What a long day for such a little echo for Yousif and his mother. But nothing could be finer than NOT being the main event at the hospital for a day, especially after being the "main event" last week. So today Yousif spent the day caring for his little buddy with extreme compassion, carrying file folders for me like a young intern, and waiting patiently for the moment the doctor would tell him if he could go back home yet. Yousif was the perfect cooperative patient.

The echo showed the valves in his heart working with precision - Thank the Lord!! There is a little fluid gathering around the heart and the doctor wants to stop that problem at the onset.

A small amount of medication has been prescribed and a return visit was scheduled in two days to monitor the effect. Thank you for your prayers. Yousif and his mother are anxious to return to their family and Yousif misses his twin brother. Please continue to pray for a speedy and complete recovery.


The Mercy We See

Posted on Mon, 09/27/2010 - 06:53 by Donna_West
As our Jordanian coworker Issa and I entered the cardiac ward on the 5th floor to let the nurses know we had arrived to take Yousif and his mother back to Jerusalem, it was amazing to see them both walking the corridors with their little cups of tea. When I first saw Yousif I could see the incision area right below his collar bone. It looked so well healed it was hard to imagine that it was only a week old. Mary and I had prayed for a speedy healing for him but it still came as a surprise to me when they said he is on NO MEDICATION.

We had to wait for a couple hours for the doctor to get out of surgery so he could remove the wires.

Next Sunday will be Yousif's next appointment for an echo to see if his body is still accepting the changes made in surgery. Everyone at the Shevet House celebrated Yousef's return with cake after dinner. Thank you for your prayer support; we are thankful that we get to see the mercy the Father extends because of His love for these children and their families.



Posted on Tue, 09/21/2010 - 06:53 by Agnes_Wiggers

Today was surgery day for Yousif - wow, what a long day! When Donna and I entered his hospital room at 7.30am, he was sitting up in bed, smiling his cheeky grin. If he was at all nervous or afraid, he hid it well. Donna cleverly capitalized on his nonchalance, and offering him her iPod, he was soon engrossed in video games. While they were busy, Shukria, his mum, took the opportunity to be alone, and soon was in tears. She seemed to have been holding herself together until a moment when Yousif was distracteda merciful thing for a mother to do.

At 9.00am we were taken upstairs to the surgery ward. Shukria dressed herself in sterile clothes and was able to accompany her son for his anesthetizing at 9.20am. She emerged afterwards distressed and crying, but the nurses responded with compassion, showing us to a separate room and fetching for her a warm drink.

The surgery lasted five hours, and the wait was long and difficult. Shukria, understandably, was uninterested in food and drink, and refused at first to go very far from the operating room. After some time passed, however, we were able to speak to her clearly through a Hebrew-Kurdish translator, which calmed her some. Then we waited...and waited more...and soon enough the surgery was done. The doctors sent a positive report that all four of the defects in Yousifs heart had been successfully repaired! In the post-surgery hours, the doctors, who do not speak a syllable of Kurdish, were very gentle and understanding with Shukria, which impressed Donna and I. Shortly thereafter the two of us went back to Jerusalem, allowing Shukria to stay with her son who is on the road to healing.

Go Time.

Posted on Mon, 09/20/2010 - 06:53 by Agnes_Wiggers
The call for which every mother at Shevet Achim waits came early this morning for Yousifs mother Shukria: "Pack your bags. Your child's surgery is scheduled for tomorrow. Be here by noon." Praise God! By 11:30am Mary and I had arrived with Yousif and his mother at Schneider Childrens Hospital and began the process of admittance. Theyre smart, these people at Schneider: when admitting a new child, they save all the painful procedure involving needles until the child has had time to become familiar with the environment and the staff. Resultantly, Yousif was a model of cooperation as he progressed through the procedures of taking blood pressure, weight, and temperature.

After the preliminaries, we rode the glass elevator together from one floor to another (making a giggling game of it), eating lunch and taking x-rays at different levels. After a hearty lunch we returned to the room in which we began in order to complete a final test for which we were asked to help interpret. It was merely a swabbing of the nose, underarm, and bottom to check for bacteria. Starting at Yousifs head the nurse worked downward, applauding and high-fiving after each completed swabbing. She was good. I have never seen a child so confidently present himself for inspection, with no reluctance at all.

Yousifs heart defect is known as Tetralogy of Falot (TOF), which is a combination of four heart defects. As the operation required to correct this disease is complex and delicate, please be praying that Yousifs confidence and cooperation at the outset is a foreshadowing of Gods continued grace and mercy to this little boy and his family.

Thankful for Friends

Posted on Sun, 09/12/2010 - 01:00 by Donna_West

Yousif arrived at Schneider Children's Hospital early this morning to be worked into their already busy schedule. The little seven-year-old was all smiles and cooperation as his heart defect (Tetralogy of Fallot) was evaluated and determined to be operable, thank God.

The staff at Schneider Children's Hospital went beyond the call of duty in the effort they put forth to keep the process moving along in a timely manner while remaining dedicated to whatever measures necessary to communicate with the mother by way of our Israeli Kurdish translater and good friend Ilan.

In a land where it seems so few speak the language of your home, it is easy to feel alone and misunderstood. Once Yousif was able to get a quick snack, he and his mother were quite joyful at being united with Saad's mother. The ladies chatted like old friends and the children were also delighted to see each other.

Please keep this family in your prayers as they await the surgery that will change Yousif's life.

Yousif Reaches Israel, Full of Boyish Happiness

Posted on Sun, 09/05/2010 - 01:00 by Michelle_Bradburn

Seven-year-old Yousif and his mother crossed the Jordan River border this afternoon and arrived in safely in Israel this evening. What a precious boy! I was touched by his sincere thoughtfulness and helpful attitude throughout the seven-hour trip. He was shy and didn't say much, but his smile said everything; so full of joy and boyish happiness. Wherever we were, he wanted to serve. As we moved from point-to-point in the hot sun at the border crossing, Yousif silently but firmly insisted on finding a suitcase to carry. Each time we had to climb back into the van, he would climb in first and ready my seatbelt for me, straightening it out on the seat. Even while his mother was a bit worried and flustered during the trip, Yousif remained calm and peaceful, till eventually he fell asleep as we neared the Jerusalem house.

I'm so excited about this little boy's time here. I pray it would be a time for him to grow healthy, and a time he would know, in the deepest part of his tender heart, the love that God has for him. I pray also that his mother find strength and peace during this time, that she would feel love much stronger than she's known, and that it would chase away all the fears inside her.

We shared our first meal together tonight, and Yousif and his mother began to relax and feel at home. Please pray with us for this family as they embark on this new step in life, this step towards hope! Pray that everything goes smoothly this coming week, and through all that happens, that God would bless this family in beautiful, incredible ways.