Anas's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Anas' Farewell Party

Posted on Sun, 10/27/2013 - 23:38 by Marisa Schindler
I have the privilege of summing up the last six life-changing weeks for Anas, which were filled with many emotions, physical changes, and great fellowship. Anas was supposed to come with his mother in the beginning of September. Because of visa problems, they had to spend two weeks waiting in Jordan until their visa finally got approved. After this great challenge of being patient, the treatment of Anas’ heart could start at the Wolfson Hospital in Tel Aviv. The first examination demonstrated Anas’ critical status because of his dropping blood pressure, especially during crying. Therefore, we were really glad that the doctors where able to write Anas quickly on the list for surgery. Everyone was happy to face the day of surgery, but on the expected day, Anas' mum was very scared and couldn’t hold her emotions back. But, praise the Lord, after a nearly three-hour-long surgery, Anas’ four-part heart defect – Tetrology of Fallot – was fully repaired with the result that he doesn’t need any further heart surgery. Anas' recovery was so quick that he only needed to stay a bit longer in hospital because of a fever. Blessed and stunned by God’s mercy over this eleven-month-old boy with his beautiful brown eyes and an adorable smile, we celebrated on Friday our farewell party. We had a great tea time with cookies while remembering the past weeks. 
Everyone had agreed that we felt in love with Anas because of his joyful character and his love he gave us while staying with us. When I held him in my arms, he felt secure right away, and he loved to cuddle. Also, his mum showed a great love towards her beloved son. For sure, Anas has the beautiful smile and humor of his mum.
After sharing all the good memories, Anas received a big bag of several gifts, including a CD with pictures, which will remind him of his time in Jerusalem. Together, we watched the picture video with great and thankful hearts for all that God has done and for all the caring people who made this whole way possible.
On the next day, we said goodbye to each other with tears in our eyes. Over time, we had built up relationships and, accordingly, it was hard to let them go. It helps to know that God is still watching and caring for them, and I’m really excited for Anas to become a young man with a strong heart.
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57

Anas Free to Return to Iraq!

Posted on Mon, 10/21/2013 - 21:21 by Co-authored
Sonia writes:
Oh happy day! Thanks to the Lord! Today was the first and last echo for Anas. The echo went fast and was so good  that Anas and his mother were cleared to go back to Iraq! Anas' mother told me today that she is happy and sad together. Israel is a beautiful country, and she doesn't want to go back. We are so joyful that both Anas and his mother have enjoyed their stay here. Anas now has only one problem, and this is his ears. He has an ear infection. For this he has two special ear-drops for one week. Please pray for healing in his ear, and praise the Lord for His glory in Anas.
Jesse writes:
As you have read, Anas is doing so well that Dr. Timur cleared him to return to Iraq without a further echo. There is no pericardial effusion, and the ear infection is one that he came to Israel with. So the doctors are content to send him home soon with antibiotics. We rejoiced to see mother and son doing so well! After removing his stitches, we played a little with the clown in the hospital and got to see a Palestinian family. Their little girl would smile and Anas' face would light up! Soon we could head out; it was a short, sweet day!

Anas Back in Jerusalem!

Posted on Wed, 10/16/2013 - 21:19 by Sonia D'Orso

What a happy day! Today was Anas' discharge. Anas' mother was so happy to come back home to the Shevet house. She was excited to see her friend, Mohammed's mother. After two days of fever and a lot of blood tests, everything is okay, and Anas doesn't have a fever anymore. He is only on one medication now. Thank the Lord that Anas can come back home. Next week, on Monday, is the next echo. Please pray that Anas' fever won't come back and for patience for his mother.

A Lovely Warm Summer's Day

Posted on Sun, 10/13/2013 - 23:09 by Tinka Jones
We set off to Tel Aviv today with the expectation of bringing Anas and his mother with us back home to Shevet Achim. He was on an antibiotic drip when we arrived at Wolfson, however, and was a little grumpy. His mom was disappointed because they could not leave the hospital due to a slight fever he developed. Although he was not feeling well, Anas still managed to smile and nod his little head. His mother found a stroller, and as soon as she put him down in it, he was happy and content.
Anas' fever by then dropped a little, and we could take him and his mom outside to go and sit under the trees in the garden. We had a lot of laughs because he was his cheerful self again.
His mother was also smiling and looking relaxed by then. It was a lovely, warm, late summer's day, and we could leave with warm hearts knowing that our Healer loves us all with His tender love.

Anas Eager to Be Active Again

Posted on Thu, 10/10/2013 - 22:50 by Marisa Schindler
If you have kids sitting in the back of your car during a long ride, the question, “How far away is home,” is ineluctable. This example is almost applicable to Anas’ situation. The surgery went well, and Anas is not even showing any signs of pain. He can't tell us that he is bored, but you can see the question in his actions: "When can I go home? When can I move again how I would like to?” 
Anas is still limited in his actions through different observation cables and poles around his little bed. Also, his Mum cannot hold him in her arms because of the surgery scars. Even so, Anas is full of energy and can't wait to move around. 
On our visit, we tried to distract Anas from his boring daily routine by playing. Also, a clown came by who entertained not only Anas, but also Anas' Mum and the Shevet staff. We all got a little sticker on our forehead, and therefore, we became Indian women. We had so much fun together, and it was great to spend some time in good company. Anas’ Mum is a beautiful woman with a caring and loving heart. Anas is in good hands, and that's good to know.

Anas on the Mend

Posted on Tue, 10/08/2013 - 21:41 by Marisa Schindler

What a great day of joy and blessing. Today we saw Anas awake for the first time after his surgery. Everyone was really excited to see him and to hold his little, warm hand. He looked at us with his big eyes, satisfied and peaceful. Even Anas’ Mum felt relieved and was happy to see us. Anas is doing well and he only needs a nasal cannula for oxygen. The doctor also said, he looks good and his recovery is continuing smoothly. At lunchtime, we had a meal at Wolfon’s cafeteria.

On the way back to the ICU, we walked partly the same way like the day before, being the ICU. But this time, instead of walking to the ICU crying and worried, we were full of laughter and joy. Praise the Lord that everyone is well. I can’t wait to see Anas moving around again with his cute smile. Lord willing, in the next days Anas will improve his capabilities step by step. I’m very excited for him.

Surgery Day

Posted on Tue, 10/08/2013 - 00:30 by Co-authored

Marisa writes:

When we came into Anas’ room this morning, he was already waiting for us with a big smile. Although he had to fast in preparation for his surgery, he wasn’t crying or being crabby. Instead he loved to laugh and to jump around in his bed. Because of his hunger, he tried to eat everything that his face focused on, like Kristina’s arm or my face. So we were glad when a nurse came into the room to inform us that Anas’ surgery will start soon.

It was a long way to the operating department, and I think Anas’ mum finally realized what was about to happen. Little tears welled up in her eyes as she held her beloved boy tight to her chest, knowing that the moment of saying goodbye was about to come. When Anas was peacefully lying on the bed in preparation for surgery, Anas mum couldn’t hold her emotions back anymore. She had to give up her boy in the hands of the doctors, and that was really hard for her. After saying goodbye to Anas, we spent most of our time waiting outside on the lawn.

Anas Mum was still crying and very worried. We tried to be on her side, holding her in our arms and trying to communicate to her that she was not alone. We didn’t use much spoken words; it was more the physical language that kept her calm and peaceful minute by minute. After around an hour of waiting and crying, all of us felt tired. So we decided to have a nap on the lawn. The sun warmed our faces and we felt secure and relaxed. We woke up from our little nap just in time, as we received a message from Kristina in the ICU that the 2.5 hour surgery went well and that we could begin waiting for Anas outside of the ICU.

When Anas came down the hallway, Anas’ mum couldn’t even sit anymore in the waiting area. She was so excited to see her boy that she ran towards him. All the pressure on her felt down and she cried because of feeling of relief. Later we went into the ICU to see Anas.

He seemed really peacefully and his fingers weren’t blue anymore. Instead he has now a pink and healthy color, because of the improvement of his oxygen level. Thanks to the Lord, the surgery went well and Anas can face a better life now. Please keep praying for his continued recovery.

Kristina adds, from inside the OR:

Of all of God's creations, I believe the heart is one of His finest. Consider not only its aesthetic beauty and mechanical ingenuity, but also its purpose. The heart is the life-giving source of the body, taking its first beat a mere five weeks into a pregnancy. And even when compromised with a congenital defect, it continues making every effort to sustain life. As the psalmist David wrote, truly we are "fearfully and wonderfully made." (Psalm 139:14)

Today, I had the honor of observing this miraculous creation with my own eyes during open heart surgery. The time had finally arrived for Anas' heart to be restored. As we approached the OR, any sense of the commonplace was exchanged for the sacred. This baby, who stole my affections at first glance, has since become more dear. How then could I stand by and watch Anas face the surgeon's scalpel, one might ask? I can't explain it, except to say that God is able to supply faith and peace when we need it.

It was surreal to watch as the OR team moved seamlessly throughout the room making countless preparations. When the surgery began nearly one hour later, everything and everyone were arranged like a perfectly set game of chess. Art and science coincided in one beautiful motion. Layer by layer, skin, muscle, and bone were meticulously cut and pulled aside to reveal Anas' heart. One moment it was supple and forcibly contracting and the next it lay eerily still.

The clocked ticked on as chief surgeon, Dr. Sasson, stepped up to the table. With nimble hands and a steady gaze, he mended each flaw like an expert tailor. This time, however, needle and thread were used to patch living fabric finer than any silk.

After nearly three hours, Anas' four part heart defect, Tetrology of Fallot, was fully repaired! A large VSD (hole between his lower cardiac chamber) was closed, his severely narrowed pulmonary artery and valve were opened, and hypertrophied muscle was re-sectioned. Dr. Alona was then called in to confirm via echocardiography that Dr. Sasson's work was complete. "It looks beautiful!" she announced after several minutes of study. Relief and joy washed over me. God was answering our prayers!

As Anas' body temperature warmed and the bypass machine turned off, his heart resumed its faithful labor. Each layer of bone, muscle, and skin were then carefully sewed back together again, hiding the finished masterpiece from view. I couldn't wait see Anas' mother again and share the good news with her! In my last few moments with Anas in the operating room, I stood savoring this gift I had been given. Life, as given by God, is both fragile yet resilient, dangerous yet beautiful. How blessed we are with each breath and each beat of our hearts from His hand.

It was a sweet reunion indeed when Anas' mother laid eyes on her son. I pray that I will never forget moments like these, christened by tears and hearts of praise offered heavenward.

Admission into Wolfson Hospital

Posted on Sun, 10/06/2013 - 22:13 by Marisa Schindler
Lord you are good and your mercy endures forever.
What is mercy?
Mercy is to see a beautiful boy with a heart defect who is still alive.
Mercy is to get an invitation for his surgery.
Mercy is to see his smiling face telling us, “I want to live, and I’m ready for the surgery.”
This eleven month old boy, Anas, is a real heart-breaker. At least, I fell in love with him. He is full of energy and he loves to cuddle. Today, we could bring Anas and his Mum to the hospital for admission. 
The nurses checked Anas' health status, but unfortunately, he didn’t like it. Big tears of defiance and fear rolled up over his big cheeks. As soon as the nurse was done with the check up, it was easy to get a smile back on Anas' face. 
You need to know that Anas is not a boy of sadness. He loves to laugh and to smile. The rest of the day we spent together playing with Anas and talking to his Mum. In between, we had a nice tea time, which was heart- warming. While Anas' Mum was the only Mum at Shevet, she didn’t drink tea the last couple of days because of missing the other Mums. Now she was glad to share a cup of tea with us, and we enjoyed good company. All in all, we had a really good and blessed day. It was also good for Anas’ Mum to have a distraction from the many thoughts of the upcoming surgery, which will be tomorrow. 
I’m glad that this adorable boy gets help for his heart defect, but also keep in mind that this operation will be a risk for him. Please pray for his health condition and the healing of his  heart. Also, keep in your prayers Anas’ Mum and family who love this child so much. They need an extra portion of strength and courage. The Lord is good and his mercy endures forever, also for Anas and his family.

Anas' First Check Up

Posted on Mon, 09/16/2013 - 21:23 by Marisa Schindler

This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Ps 118:24

Today was the day Anas had his first check up in Israel. After a long time waiting for his Israeli visas in Jordan, we’ve been glad to start the examination process at the Wolfson Hospital today. But this day also challenged us in patience, because seven children had their appointment right before us. Therefore we spend some joyful hours in the waiting room. Anas is a wonderful young boy with big dark eyes and such adorable cheeks.

He is a joyful child and loves to laugh. He was very active today. He didn’t want to sit but instead discovered the hospital. Also, Anas has a lovely and caring mum. It was great to spend some time in the waiting area to build up relationships. In the early afternoon, Anas finally got his examination. They checked his oxygen levels, pulse and breathing. When it came to taking blood from him, he got very scared and stared immediately to cry. Consequently, his oxygen levels dropped and he needed supplemental oxygen through a mask. I guess it was hard for his mum to see her little boy crying and while she couldn’t help to abate his pain. But it only took a warm cuddle from his mum to calm him down and to bring a smile back in his face again. All in all, we are glad that Anas is doing well so far. His left ear has a slight infection and needs medication. After the medical check up, we only had time for an x-ray, because of the long waiting time for the echocardiogram. Tomorrow morning Anas probably will be the first one to receive his echo.

This day was the start of a better life for Anas. We rejoice and praise the Lord for his mercy and pray that God will bless Anas and his mum during the next weeks.

The Wait is Over

Posted on Fri, 09/13/2013 - 03:00 by Jonathan Miles

Friday morning we celebrated with a McDonald's breakfast the good news that visas for Anas and Mohammed were finally approved after a two-week wait. We'll head to Israel immediately after Yom Kippur, and Anas will have his first visit to the hospital on Monday morning God willing.