Sarina's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Dreams Fulfilled: Sarina is Home!

Posted on Fri, 07/06/2012 - 01:51 by Donna_Petrel

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12

Dreams were fulfilled yesterday as two healed children and their happy mothers boarded a plane back home to their families in Iraq. The progression from their arrivals to today's departure has been long and trying in many ways, but thanks be to God that in His perfect timing the day for reuniting these friends with their loved ones came at last.

We've shared with you the patience of Sarina's mother during the long treatment for her daughter's heart. It made her joy even more delightful when the final departure was realized, and we were all thankful to join in that delight. Our trip across the border was smooth, and the time passed with happy antics as we waited through the customs protocol. Sarina was filled with energy and joy on Wednesday morning while we got ready to leave for the airport. Jonathan wanted to treat us to lunch on the way at a restaurant with an indoor playground. After nibbling on her burger, Sarina was anxious to approach the play area. Once there though, it was clear that the structure was overwhelming to this little one, and the children bounding by her were not safe playmates at this point in her healing. She was content to enjoy one of the colorful cubes nearest the ground during our brief stay. 

Our journey through the airport was favored by the Lord, approaching the gate with only a few minutes' wait before it was time for our final goodbyes. Their joy over thoughts of home vanished for a few moments in the sweet sorrow of parting. Sarina's mother was full of thanksgiving and loving goodbyes for everyone involved in helping her daughter and entire family receive the surgery and care they needed. She confidently expressed her desire to stay in touch with several who meant so much as they cared for both of them. I steered mother and daughter into the line that was now moving swiftly through the final security check before boarding, watching as they all waved and blew many kisses as we walked away from each other. 

I trust you'll join me in prayer for this precious girl as she grows up, that she will know and accomplish the purpose for which God created her, and has given her a new heart. May she find the stability of dreams fulfilled in the tree of life, from which all life is given and flows, and there be satisfied. 

Farewell to Sarina

Posted on Tue, 07/03/2012 - 09:45 by Jesse Tilman

(This blog update is written by two of our volunteers, Donna Petrel and Jesse Tilman.)

Tuesday July 3, 2012 by Donna Petrel

After a long wait for an echo followed by a long echo, Sarina and her mother got the news they've patiently awaited: "She's going home." Dr. Livia commented several times about the beautiful surgery Sarina received, and the condition of her heart. Even though I knew the news was good, I didn't want to give a final word about our departure until I heard it from the doctor. When I shared the report, Sarina's mother's face lit up with a combination of joy and relief in a wonderful smile.

She has waited so patiently through delays before surgery, a longer than usual healing in the ICU, and a prolonged treatment for persistent fluid around Sarina's healing heart. She's been a model to the other mothers, and that has endeared her to us and to them. It has been my joy to watch Sarina strengthen. Monday, at the hospital Sarina was even running to and fro, entertaining herself with her new energy. I asked her mother if she had been able do this before her surgery, and her reply was that this is the first time Sarina has ever been able to run and jump and play like this. Praise to God for His marvelous gift of a new heart for her! 


Tuesday July 3, 2012 by Jesse Tilman


Sarina's Penultimate Echo

Posted on Thu, 06/28/2012 - 10:34 by Kristina Kayser

Our last two visits to Wolfson with Sarina have carried with them the expectation of a congratulatory finale. Perhaps this state of anticipation is what turned this increasingly energetic girl into a virtual statue. Upon entering the echo room, Sarina became as quiet as a mouse. She didn't move a muscle for the entirety of the exam and only briefly took her eyes off of the doctor to meet mine. Both Sarina and her mother have shown exemplary patience since they arrived nearly three months ago. For this reason and many more, I was ready to join in the celebration today. 

The doctor carefully maneuvered the ultrasound probe across Sarina's chest, examining every square inch of her heart and lungs. The stillness of the room broke momentarily as the strong whoosh of her heartbeat filled the air. This was accompanied by the mesmerizing beauty of each rise and fall of the heart chambers. It was a picture of grace in motion. Suddenly, Dr. Hanita turned to me and said, "She still has fluid. We need her back on Monday." She assured me that while the amount of fluid around her lungs had not increased since her last echo, it was enough to check her one more time. Her mother accepted the news graciously, but I saw the disappointment in her eyes. 

We soon learned that this delay synchronized with another unforeseen change of plans. Due to problems with scheduling, flights to Kurdistan on Saturday had been postponed. These factors together confirmed that Sarina and her mother will return home next week, Lord willing. I so want their reunion with home and friends to be soon, but I also know that God, in His perfect love and wisdom, has a purpose in these unexpected seasons of waiting. Besides, I certainly don't mind seeing Sarina's beautiful eyes and hearing her mother's joyful laughter for a few more days! "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1


Doctors Pleased With Sarina's Healing

Posted on Tue, 06/19/2012 - 23:05 by Donna_Petrel

A delightful Sarina and her mother joined Fatimah and her mom for the girls' echocardiogram checkups yesterday. While we waited for her echo, Sarina enjoyed playing with Fatimah while their mothers talked of home. When Dr. Alona finished the examination, she told us that everything looks very good in Sarina

Sarina Thrilled to Return to Jerusalem

Posted on Thu, 06/14/2012 - 23:49 by Natalie Kayser

Today we bear good news: the hospital called telling us Sarina was to be discharged and could come home!

So after spending most of the day visiting two other heart patients at Sheba Hospital, we swung by Wolfson Hospital to pick up our precious Sari and her mother. I awaited this day with much anticipation, looking forward to her homecoming and healing.

We parked the car, turned the corner, and there they were! It was like the end of a good movie when two people see each other and run to embrace. She smiled, wrapped her arms around my neck, and gave my cheek lots of kisses. Truly one of life's greatest blessings is friendship with children.

As you can see from the pictures, Sarina looked beautiful. Her skin is a healthy shade of pink, her eyes are full of life, and her strength is returning ten-fold. This transformation declares boldly the faithfulness and loving kindness of our Savior.

On the car ride home, Sari and her mother were more than thrilled to return to Jerusalem. With arms folded behind her head, Sarina reclined in complete satisfaction. THIS was a good day.

I am reminded of how real and tangible God's love is for us when He pours it into our own hearts. His love for Sarina and the attention He gives to her wellbeing far surpasses that of my own or the others at Shevet Achim. But He gives us a taste of what it is like to love as He loves.

We are a blessed community here at 29 Prophet's Street to partake in Sarina's story. I believe she has come to Israel for "such a time as this" as her heart is made well, and many hearts are made one.

A Sweet Visit With Recovering Sarina

Posted on Sun, 06/10/2012 - 21:27 by Natalie Kayser

Today was a special day visiting Sarina and her mother at the hospital. It has been five days since her surgery, and already she is in secondary ICU and doing very well. I sat by her bedside for quite a while complimenting her on how well she looks and how strong she has become. Her demeanor was solemn as the IV

Day After Surgery: Awake, Extubated, And Out Of ICU

Posted on Wed, 06/06/2012 - 20:55 by Deborah Burke

After a successful heart surgery yesterday little Sarina has progressed very well. Just as we left her yesterday sleeping peacefully so we found her today. There is something profoundly sweet about this little girl. Yesterday, immediately post-op, I could sense the beautiful aroma of God

Satisfied Hopes for Sarina's Young Life

Posted on Tue, 06/05/2012 - 21:18 by Natalie Kayser

We arrived at Wolfson Hospital early this morning for Sarina's long awaited heart surgery. Today marked exactly two months since she and her mother arrived in Israel and began to anticipate this day. I've come to know a beautiful strength of character in both mother and daughter in the month I've lived at Shevet. They've watched families come and go with successful surgeries, and have remained patient and content in the waiting.

Surgery day for most mothers is one of tears and anxiety, but today was a different story. Sarina's mother told us how her little girl set the tone the evening before. In complete confidence Sarina looked at her mother and said, "Don't cry for me like the other mothers. I'm good." This statement spoken by a precious four-year old humbled me. She discerned the situation, readied herself, and so wished to calm her mother's fears. And truly the peace of God covered every moment of this day.

Before surgery we found Sarina sitting up on her bed, quiet, contemplative, and as cute as ever! She smiled as we showered her with kisses and told her how brave she was. She had her "game face" on!

All too soon the nurses whisked Sarina down the hall at a pace that disenabled her mother from keeping up. We were separated at the elevator and were told she had already been wheeled into the operating room. Her mother could not say goodbye.

Expecting an emotional breakdown from her mother, I was amazed as she followed her daughter's council to a tee. No tears were shed, she was resolved to the reality, and had a smile on her face.

So thus commenced the wait! Four to five hours is usually to be expected. Kristina, Deborah, and I lead her mother outside to sit beneath the shade of two beautiful arched acacia trees. There, we three volunteers enjoyed a cup of coffee and Sarina

Sarina Admitted for Heart Surgery in the Morning

Posted on Mon, 06/04/2012 - 22:37 by Donna_Petrel

It's been two long months of waiting for sweet Sarina and her mother to arrive at the moment of admission for surgery, but today the waiting ended. We were all very thankful that during the wait both Sarina and her mother were able to have some needed dental work done. This is especially important for cardiac patients, and Dr. Alona gave approval to tomorrow's procedure knowing both the infected tooth and the antibiotic treatment are finished. 

Sarina was deeply affectionate today along with her usual reflective countenance. Throughout the day she grabbed my hand and offered many kisses. This four-year-old has a penetrating gaze which seems to take in far more than outward appearances, and her response to circumstances seems to often depend on what she discerns from her searching inquiries. Today perhaps she understood that fulfillment of a lifelong need was before her, and the response I perceived was one of gracious acceptance. She thoroughly enjoyed time to play during the wait on the playground before admission tests began, but once under the care of nurses and doctors, responded with courage and quietness.

She carefully looked over the variety of roommates she had when her room was changed, and was pleased to see Hani and Mohammed when we returned after their assessments. Along with her patient and peaceful mother, Sarina seemed quite ready for the necessary fasting tonight before surgery, and the operation itself which will give her new life. I believe I sensed the deep well of a mother's emotions rising toward the surface today after such a long wait for such a vital milestone in her precious daughter's life. Before we left, we prayed for peace for both mother and child for tonight and tomorrow, and for a perfect outcome for Sarina's heart as God's hands guide those of the doctors. Please join us in praying for these dear ones as we await tomorrow's outcome, and see the effects of Sarina's new heart.