Herish's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

On the Way Home with a New Heart

Posted on Wed, 04/25/2012 - 11:57 by Co-authored

Herish's farewell blog was co-composed by Shevet volunteers Kristina Kayser and Madelyn Miles.

Kristina writes:

This afternoon, a small boy named Herish began his journey home to Kurdistan. He has been a pilgrim in the land these past six weeks, having come to Israel in search of hope for a broken heart. Hope was secured when Israeli doctors surgically repaired two large cardiac defects, infringing on his life and future. The succeeding four weeks of recovery provided the healing he needed. Lying on the table after a seamless exam this past Monday, Herish grinned knowingly, showcasing his six new teeth. (See above) Dr. Alona had deemed that his heart is ready to travel home. 

As we celebrated Dr. Alona's good news, he then pulled his mother close and kissed her on the cheek. Both Herish and his mother have demonstrated a beautiful love for one another and a growing love for those around him.

Holding Herish in my arms, I remembered when he first arrived. Wide-eyed and wary, he observed everything from a safe distance in his mother's lap. Trust grew with time as did Herish's personality. He has been the happiest of babies, and often rewarded us with his delightful smiles. Likewise, his mother opened up and honored me with the gift of her friendship. 

On the way home from the hospital, Herish and his mother enjoyed an outing to the Mediterranean Sea and experienced its splendor for the very first time. Mother and son dipped their toes in the warm waters, collected sea shells, and played in the sand. "This is the best gift for Herish," his mother remarked looking towards the horizon, "...more than toys." We also agreed that Herish's new heart was a beautiful gift from God. 

In honor of Herish's homegoing, the Shevet community hosted a party last night complete with presents, music, words of encouragement, and a DVD telling his story in pictures.

What made this occasion even more significant was the fact that Herish was turning one year old! A big cake alight with candles was presented.

His curious eyes grew bigger as his mother blew out the candles and everyone cheered. We then expressed how much joy they brought to our home and what a blessing it was to share these milestone moments with them (first teeth, first haircut, first birthday). His family will hardly recognize him I think!   

Life was further celebrated today as I accompanied Herish and his mother to the Garden Tomb just hours before their departure. We walked the grounds, admiring its beauty and reflecting on the greatest love ever shown: a love that continues swallowing up death in victory through the corridors of time. With every beat of Herish's new heart, the melody of this same triumph resounds.  

Madelyn writes:

I walked up to my desk and there lay a soft, black scarf

Herish Returns to Jerusalem and Shevet Achim

Posted on Mon, 04/16/2012 - 23:17 by Jesse Tilman

We picked up Herish from the hospital yesterday afternoon to bring him back to Shevet after three long weeks in the hospital. After his heart surgery, his recovery has been slowed by a persistent fever and infection, as well as poor echo results. His heart is healing, but doctors will be watching in the weeks ahead for more improvement. The next echo for Herish is scheduled for this coming Sunday. And below, to give you a taste of Herish

Herish Gaining Strength in Secondary ICU

Posted on Mon, 04/09/2012 - 22:04 by Kristina Kayser

I'm happy to report that Herish is no longer in the main ICU and has recently taken residence in intermediate ICU. His mother seemed quite thankful for this move as she greeted me with her warm smile today. Sunlight poured through the window into Herish's crib, softening the edges of medical equipment and white walls.

This little one grows cuter by the day as his once toothless grin is now filling with new baby teeth. Cutting teeth, in addition to open heart surgery, has not been a pleasant experience for him. But being an optimistic fellow, Herish seems to have found something more to smile about. With new teeth, come new possibilities in the world of food. For Herish, apples are an exciting addition to his repertoire. Perhaps he also knows the old saying which goes, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." He munched away during our visit, stopping briefly to offer me a bite as well.

Apples as well as antibiotics are helping to combat a fever and infection that still lingers in his body. The origin is gastrointestinal and the recovery is slow. Herish's nurse said he will continue this treatment until the infection is resolved. She also said echo results show a daily improvement in his heart, which is healing slowly but surely. The surgery twelve days ago successfully repaired both an ASD and VSD, but his body is still adjusting to the changes made.

As Herish rests, the Lord is both healing and strengthening him with joy. "He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength." Isaiah 40:29

Herish Breathing Freely Without Ventilator

Posted on Sun, 04/01/2012 - 22:08 by Jesse Tilman

Herish is sleeping soundly in the ICU of Wolfson Hospital in Tel Aviv. He has crib bars around him now, a good sign. An audible exhale escapes his lips as he turns slightly in his sleep. He is recovering and the nurses say he will soon be off of the sleeping meds. Another important step was the removal today of the in-lung ventilator that Herish has breathed by for four days, since the operation. A nurse tells me that he will probably leave ICU to an intermediate room tomorrow. Time, the doctors

Herish Resting and Recovering in ICU

Posted on Thu, 03/29/2012 - 21:59 by Kristina Kayser

The idea of rest comes to mind as I think about my visit with Herish and his mother today: When Jesse, our newest volunteer, and I arrived at Wolfson Hospital, both mother and child were sleeping. His mum was curled up in a recliner chair, undisturbed by the hospital hustle and bustle just outside the curtain partition of her room. I wondered if she had been up all night. Not wanting to interrupt her peaceful state, I decided to peek in on Herish. Jesse and I found him slumbering also, albeit from anesthesia.

Herish's nurse informed me that he is stable and doing fine, and that doctors hope to extubated him tomorrow. For now, his lungs are still dependent on the ventilator, giving his body more time to heal and rejuvenate as it adjusts to the new changes inside. Despite receiving strong sedatives, Herish has apparently been challenging his nurse with efforts to wake up. She asked me, "Did you know him before his surgery? Is he always this active?" Minutes before, Herish had wriggled and twisted himself into a contorted position, surprising the nurse with his strength. After giving him another dose of medicine and repositioning him, the sleep continued.

Before leaving, I did have a nice visit with Herish's mother following her afternoon nap. She appeared refreshed and calm as we spoke. Her truest rest, she explained, comes from the knowledge that her baby is doing well. I praise God for the way He is restoring both mother and son, providing rest on every side. "He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper. The Lord is your shade at you right hand." Psalm 121:3b-5

Herish's Surgery Day: Receiving The Gift of Life

Posted on Wed, 03/28/2012 - 21:16 by Kristina Kayser

7:58am. I answered my phone to hear Herish's mother

Herish Admitted for Heart Surgery Tomorrow

Posted on Tue, 03/27/2012 - 22:26 by Liliya Semenyuk

"Yes," came the matter-of-fact answer to the question, "Are you afraid?" As our community surrounded Herish and his mother to pray for tomorrow's surgery, the mother began to cry. I can be deceived by the confidence and worry-free attitude this woman seems to possess, and was shocked this morning to see her emotions coming to the surface at the thought of her child's open heart surgery tomorrow afternoon. The mother-son bond they share is very evident, and when Herish spontaneously hugs his mother it is a precious moment to watch!

A flurry of activity and people greeted us at the hospital, delaying Herish's admission. We tried to keep him entertained with Legos and interaction, but his attention span was rather short.

Finally, when the admission process began, the hospital clowns were able to distract him enough when the nurse took his blood pressure. Unfortunately, no matter how hard they tried, Herish's tears and cries were completely unwilling to subside when his blood was drawn.

After an X-Ray, mother and child were settled into their bed for the afternoon and the night. Tomorrow, our nurse Kristina will be with the mother when this precious one has his surgery. Thank you for your prayers!

Bustle and Excitement as Herish (Almost) Goes to Surgery

Posted on Sun, 03/18/2012 - 22:18 by Jonathan Miles

The whole Miles family in Jerusalem pitched in to bring Herish and mother down to the Wolfson Medical Center after the end of the Sabbath, in preparation for his heart surgery scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Inside we waited and chatted with the Iraqi and Palestinian mothers as the medical staff confirmed that sweet Herish's vital signs looked good for surgery:

Kristina's update from Sunday:

One way to describe daily life at Shevet is "subject to change." Yesterday evening, Herish was admitted to the hospital for a Sunday afternoon surgery. A mere hours later, however, he developed a fever which continued into this morning. Not wanting to take any chances, doctors determined that it was best to postpone his surgery for now. Herish has been stable all week, so this mysterious fever was certainly a surprise to me.

He seemed nonplussed at this whole turn of events, sitting contentedly in his mother's arms, even smiling. I was thankful to see that his mother had an equally accepting outlook. Mother and son returned with us to Jerusalem today, where Herish will be treated with antibiotics for the next week. We trust that God knows the timing and purpose of all things and that Herish's new surgery date is just around the corner.

Back in Jerusalem, And Surgery Soon

Posted on Thu, 03/15/2012 - 20:58 by Liliya Semenyuk

We had quite the happy camper return home to Jerusalem with us today, as is evident by this adorable picture! Hannes and I arrived at the hospital to find mother and child packed up and ready to go, their bed already given away to another family.

Little Herish is back with us now for only a few days; he will be readmitted to the hospital Saturday evening, in anticipation of a Sunday open heart surgery.

Catheterization Prepares the Way for Surgery

Posted on Wed, 03/14/2012 - 21:00 by Kristina Kayser

Herish was awake and ready for some breakfast when Sophie and I saw him this morning. Unfortunately, food was not on the menu for this little guy. Since Herish was the first catheterization of the day, he had been fasting since midnight last night. Thankfully, the procedure was soon underway and hunger pangs slipped away under anesthesia.

His mother began crying as she left the cath lab; handing her baby to people she didn't know and walking away was no easy task. One nurse kindly explained that we could expect the cath to be over in two hours. Sophie, Herish's mother, and I found a quiet place nearby to sit and wait. I appreciated this time of waiting with her as we began sharing about our lives and families. It is always a precious gift to go beyond the superficial in a friendship and to share deeper places of the heart. 

One brief hour passed and Dr. Alona walked out saying, "Mama Herish, the cath went beautifully! He's ready for surgery." With eyebrows raised, Herish's mother asked, "It's finished?! Only one hour?" She was further pleased to learn that his surgery is scheduled for Monday, March 19th. Dr. Alona explained that because Herish has both an ASD and a VSD, his heart is sending excessive blood flow to the lungs. Thus, doctors needed to measure his pulmonary pressure before surgery to make sure his body could tolerate repair. The conclusion is that Herish is ready to go! 

Herish came out of anesthesia in a fitful temper and remained so for the next four hours. Nothing calmed him, not even a sedative. After pulling out his IV and confounding us all with his uncanny strength, he finally fell asleep at his mother's side. Praise God for answered prayers for Herish today and the hope of a fully mended heart!