Hawre's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Good-bye for Now

Posted on Sun, 02/19/2012 - 20:34 by MadelynMiles

"Hwa-afeez bo esta," good-bye for now, wrote a fellow friend bidding farewell to our Kurdish gentleman. Although only 17, Hawre showed us all a mature heart and caring nature for others. I was especially touched when I consistently noticed him tending to the needs of the other children and mothers. He was in many ways, "the man of the house," and unlike most, he had a whole party of Shevet staff waving him off at the airport.

I was equally touched at his good-bye party the night before we rode to Jordan. His mother had playfully called me Kaleh (call-lay) meaning "fair" in Kurdish, and after delighting in my marriage and her hopes for me to bear many children as soon as possible, a friendship formed. So at the farewell party, she grabbed my hand and told me I was her sister. I returned the sentiment with peaceful contentment. Sometimes a family leaves and it's hard not to cry. For others, it is happy occasion, and still for others I feel peace and gratitude. I suppose all good-bye's contain a mixture of those. For Hawre and his mother, their presence is noticed and missed, but their excitement for being healthy and able to return home was hard not to feel. And it leaves me feeling thankful that they say goodbye to one family and reunite with another.

So good-bye for now, Hawre. We pray it will not be our last encounter with you--and somehow have a strong feeling it isn't.


Posted on Mon, 02/13/2012 - 21:31 by Kristina Kayser

Today was a red letter day for Hawre, our resident teenager at Shevet. Just three weeks after open heart surgery, he was officially released to return home to Kurdistan! He appeared calm and cool when I first saw him this morning; that is until I mentioned the possibility of today's echo being his last. A wide smile then spread across his face, as he nodded his head confidently and said "Xosha! Zor Xosha!" ("Wonderful! So wonderful!") Hawre had one more thing on his mind. "Do you think we could go to the beach after the hospital?" he asked. When I replied in the affirmative, he looked as excited as a school boy. With the sun already shining in full strength, it was going to be a beautiful day.  

The echocardiogram revealed, once more, a healthy beating heart. The ASD remains perfectly sealed and the pulmonary veins continue to function properly after their repair. Though Hawre has been anticipating good news, he still looked incredulous when he heard the doctor announce, "Very good! Finished! Iraq!" He looked at me as if to say, "Did I hear her right?" He may look stoic in the above picture with the doctor, but inside, you can be sure he was overjoyed. Hawre will continue to receive follow up care in Kurdistan after he returns home. For now, however, it was farewell to Wolfson for this young chap. 

We went along as planned and ventured towards the nearby coastline before heading home. Warm sea breezes and lapping waves invited us to the water's edge. Off came the shoes and into the sand we went! Hawre went a bit further than the rest of us and immensely enjoyed wading in the Mediterranean's aqua-blue waters. I told him how thankful I was that God made the sea and how it gives my heart peace when I see it. He agreed. I am equally thankful for the promise I was reminded of as we left the beach.  Written by David long ago, it remains just as true for Hawre today: "How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You." Psalm 139:17-18

Today's Echo Confirms Hawre's Hopes

Posted on Mon, 02/06/2012 - 22:35 by Kristina Kayser

Hawre's smile matched his optimism this morning as we set off for an echo at Wolfson Hospital. Even though nothing was guaranteed, he felt certain that today's visit would be one of his final visits. I smiled encouragingly and said, "God willing!"

He seemed deep in thought for the remainder of the car ride and was all business upon entering the exam room. Sometimes I forget that Hawre went through the process of heart surgery just one year ago, and the memories must be fresh to him. Lights were dimmed, save the 2-D images of Hawre's heart magnified on the echo monitor. Dr. Segi gently moved the probe across his chest, the silence in the room punctured by the deep whooshing sound of a steady beat.

His mother paced the room, stopping every few minutes to whisper fervent prayers. She held my hand tightly, and then kissed it when the doctor announced that everything pertaining to the echo and surgery appeared good. No complications have developed after Hawre

Hawre Returns to Jerusalem, All Smiles

Posted on Mon, 01/30/2012 - 21:57 by Liliya Semenyuk

Though we didn't find Hawre today in the children's ward, we ran into him as we were going to the echo room for Asma's scheduled echo.

Hawre was all smiles as he accepted our congratulations that he was coming home today! In fact, he was sent home without any medication, besides the medication for protection against the risk he runs for TB

Small Improvements for Hawre

Posted on Sat, 01/28/2012 - 19:17 by Brian Mace

Our Friday visit to Wolfson Hospital in Tel Aviv was brightened by smiles from Hawre, who had carried his drainage equipment with him to the next ward, so he could eat his lunch next to Aryan. It is so good for these two families to be able to be together in the hospital, for fellowship, and to speak in their common Kurdish language with each other.

Hawre is looking much better and he is eating well, although he is still connected to drainage tubes.

Hawre Moved Out Of ICU

Posted on Wed, 01/25/2012 - 22:41 by Liliya Semenyuk

Concern etched into her facial expression, Hawre's mother looked intently at me as she briskly walked down the hospital corridor, past the bed that two nurses were rolling down the hall. She was halfway past the bed when I realized she didn't see him. I said, "Hawre!" while several other volunteers and I frantically pointed to the bed that was rolling directly under her nose. Wow, if I had caught that moment on video, it would have been priceless! The dramatic change as her concern melted into a wide-eyed, open-mouthed shocked expression and sequentially into a large smile was a thrill to see. The last time I had seen Hawre's mother was a few hours before when she had asked me to check on her son and ask the nurses about his progress, because she was worried that he had not yet been given anything to eat.

Ten minutes prior to this run-in, I had visited Hawre, walking into the ICU just as he was eating for the first time since midnight the day before his surgery. He asked for his mother, so I sent Archie, a fellow volunteer, to ask his mother to come. That's where she nearly walked directly past her son as he was transitioned from the ICU to the children's ward. I finally saw Hawre smile and give me a thumbs-up for the first time after his heart has been repaired (though I didn't quite catch the moment on my camera). Praise God!

It has been a privilege to witness the different milestones of Hawre's progress: the smile in the pre-surgery waiting room, the run-in at the elevator immediately after surgery, the serene look on his face when he was drugged, intubated, but settled into the ICU, the first few moments of waking up after his surgery, and today the first time he could eat food and his transition into the children's ward. Although he is now settled into his new room, a sign of his progress, he has been very hot, so his mother and I did everything we could to cool him off, yet to no avail. When we left the hospital, his mother was still using a tray as a fan to cool his body off, and he looked a little pale.

Hawre in Great Pain, and In Good Hands

Posted on Tue, 01/24/2012 - 23:10 by Liliya Semenyuk

When I walked into the ICU waiting room for the second time, Brian told me that Hawre was asking for me! Excitedly I rang the ICU doorbell, eager to see him awake and extubated.

No smile greeted me as I entered the room and no thumbs-up like the morning of the surgery. Only a simple nod of acknowledgment as Hawre waved me to his bed and grunted through the breathing mask. (A nurse who entered at the same time I did mistakenly thought he was calling her. I've got to admit, I was pleased that he was asking for me rather than her.)

At first sight, it was obvious to me that he was in much pain, particularly in the way that he gripped his bed, the way he rolled his eyes, and the sound of his moaning. I know that he wants to come across as strong, as all men and boys do, but at times he could not contain his grunts and groans, even unashamedly admitting to me that he was in great pain. I was delighted to be able to contribute to anything to relieve that pain, raising and lowering his bed to his desired level, and giving him a sponge of water to wet his lips. The sponge of water could not quench his thirst, so he pleaded for water.

His nurse came to the rescue with awful-tasting liquid medicine, followed by just one syringe of water. After further pleading, she finally allowed him two more syringes full of water, saying she really couldn't give him any because he had vomited earlier. Sure enough, as I momentarily glanced aside, Hawre spewed up the medicine and the water all over the bed, just managing to include my left shoe in that mess. (As a gentleman, he apologized for that later.)

Even though I soon had to leave the ICU, I was able to spend a full 30 minutes with Hawre, even singing one of his favorite Kurdish songs titled, "Pirozee." Even though communication was at a minimum, I was glad I could help translate the basics between Hawre and the nurse.

Speaking of his nurse, Hawre is very well cared for. His nurse was kind and patient with him, even after doing a second bed change in the last hour due to vomit, and congratulating him for being very helpful. Though his cough sounds bad, she says that he has been on a ventilator for a long time, so this cough is actually very good.

Just before we left the hospital, I came in once again to find Hawre sitting up without the breathing mask, looking much better, but still refusing to crack a smile. No gleam in the eye, just the nod I will be content with.

Hawre's Surgery Day

Posted on Mon, 01/23/2012 - 23:55 by Liliya Semenyuk

As the number of people in green scrubs steadily increased in the pre-operation waiting room, Hawre and his mother tossed uneasy, questioning glances. I wouldn

Hawre Called Unexpectedly for Surgery

Posted on Mon, 01/23/2012 - 00:25 by Liliya Semenyuk

HAWRE!!! My words bounced off the kitchen walls, reaching the sitting area where the four families were quietly gathered. They had just welcomed home Asma and her mother from the hospital. I ran into the room, realizing that I nearly gave everyone sitting there a heart attack. They were looking at me quite frightened, whereas I was beaming ear-to-ear. My excuse is that I had a hard enough time as it was containing my excitement at the news with each step up the stairs. "Ameliate! Bayani!" (Surgery! Tomorrow!)

I think I could feel just how true the quote is: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news" as Hawre's mother burst into tears at the news and a round of "praise God!" was echoed throughout the room. Everyone was smiling! They were to be ready to leave in half an hour, to be admitted to the hospital overnight, standard hospital protocol. A special moment of prayer with all of the volunteers and the families upstairs, starting with Hebrew, translated into Arabic, translated into Kurdish. Then we were on our way.

The news came to me just after dinner, when we were preparing to enjoy some tea. Jonathan casually remarked after a phone call, "So, guess who's being admitted for surgery tomorrow?" I racked my mind for the possible candidates, and only Hawre fit. "Hawre?" I asked uncertainly. "Yes." My eyes widened. I couldn't believe it! Did I hear correctly? At noon Jonathan had called the hospital, expecting a much longer wait for surgery, as the surgeon was going to take a few weeks off. Even though Hawre didn't understand the words spoken at lunch, I'm pretty sure he understood that no news and no promise for a set surgery date meant that the phone call carried bad news. I could see that he was feeling down all day, hardly mustering up any enthusiasm for anything. Replying curtly to questions. Nodding and looking away. Walking around like something was weighing really heavily on his shoulders. I wished there was something I could do to lift his spirits!

Well now, every time I glanced into the backseat, Hawre and his mother's lips widened into a genuine smile of happiness, as words of "Spas bo Xua" (thanks to God) were repeatedly uttered. They could hardly contain their excitement, and who could blame them?

He was ushered into the nurses

A Hard Hit to Hawre’s Hopes

Posted on Mon, 01/16/2012 - 21:43 by Stephanie Ventura

Hawre was released today to return to Jerusalem. Upon reviewing his CT it was decided to postpone his surgery until next week (at the earliest). This sort of abrupt decision is familiar to us in the Shevet community, and although the reasoning may be difficult to understand, the hardest part is trying to be a comfort to the families that are put in this situation. Unfortunately, Hawre and his mother placed high expectations on his surgery being within the next day or two, and the news today was a hard hit to their hopes. Under her breath, his mother stated that he cried for a few hours until they were both just exhausted from being sad.

Now they are home with us and trying to remain content with the waiting process yet again. Hawre positioned himself on the couch, and we sat across from each other for several minutes with no spoken words. News like this brings about different reactions from everyone, and for Hawre it kept him quiet. As I was leaving the room to give him some space I took a quick photo of him looking off into the heater. His demeanor is so telling of the way he feels and I