With Gaza Children on a Quiet Day

The hospital waiting area in Tel Aviv was eerily quiet this afternoon, despite the half dozen families from Gaza that were scattered about waiting their turns. Of the eight children we escorted to the hospital today from the Erez Crossing at the north border of Gaza Strip, six of them were under the age of two. Since they are too young to understand what is going on and are easily frightened, they are usually sedated before they have their echo, which is a very non-invasive and non-painful procedure. 
As the children slept, I was able to move quietly about the room, mingling with the parents and seeing the kids. As always, there are usually one or two who catch my eye for various reasons. Today, I felt overwhelmed with compassion for little Sami Alheky. Even though he is five months old, Sami appears to be more the size of a newborn and lacks the usual chubbiness of a healthy baby. He is one of the first kids I have seen whose physical condition obviously reflects the broken nature of his heart. The doctors also recognized the intensity of his situation and he was admitted to the hospital immediately, not for heart surgery (although he will need this eventually as well), but for intensive care. I pray their care will help Sami quickly gain the strength needed to undergo a major surgery.
The rest of the children (four with evaluations and three with follow-ups) had excellent reports. Anas, a seven-month old boy, was admitted for heart surgery which will hopefully happen soon. We were also able to return little Aya home to Gaza. When I first met her and her joyful grandmother last Friday, Aya had just completed her surgery and was in the ICU. Remarkably, even though it was only a couple days after the surgery all of the tubes that had been helping her breathe had been removed. Her swift recovery continued and now, only a week and a half later, we were able to escort this tottering toddler back home. Seeing a broken heart made whole was a beautiful way to end the day.
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