Anes's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Farewell, Anes!

Posted on Sun, 02/09/2014 - 19:38 by SV

With happy tears, we said farewell to Anes last Friday. The time was upon us when we would no longer see those big, brown eyes that conquered so many hearts here at Shevet.

It was such an honor to walk with Anes during the entire time of his surgery. I saw many miracles, and there is no way to deny God was involved. Anes is a living testimony of God’s healing and love, and I believe He has a big purpose for this beautiful boy. I can’t wait to see Anes grow up with his new, healthy body.

For me, serving Anes was especially touching since he was one of the first kids I met here at Shevet. On a deeper level, it also moved me to know Israel was part of his path to life. It was important for me as a Jew to show him love and serve him during his stay here. I believe welcoming him and his mother to Israel made an impact in their lives and showed them there is hope for peace and love between each other. At the end of the day, this is what Shevet is all about: bringing love and servanthood to the needy regardless of religion or beliefs. Serving Anes and his mother was a true honor for me, and I hope one day in the near future we can reunite and remember Anes’ wonderful miracle together.

A few days before his departure, Anes saw the ocean for the first time and touched the water with his feet.

The word "hope" came to mind as I saw him enjoying his new-found life. Anes came with a heart defect threatening his gift of life and left with a healed body. It brings all of us here at Shevet much happiness to know he will now be able to play and go to school as normal kids do. We rejoice and celebrate along with all of the medical staff over the fact that Anes is now back home in Kurdistan enjoying a new heart and a hope of more years to come with his family.

All of the Shevet and Wolfson staff will miss him very much, but we wish him all the best in his life, and once again we give thanks to God for His work in Anes’ life.

A Joyful Day in the Sun

Posted on Mon, 02/03/2014 - 21:41 by Eilin Midtbo

Today was an exciting day for the Shevet family. Right after our daily morning meeting, the base practically emptied for both a hospital visit and four echoes. Little Anes and his mother were part of the crowd, and I was so glad to be going with them for what we hoped would be Anes’ final echo. 

Leaving the house, Anes made sure his mother was right next to him before he went through the gate, not willing to travel without her. The ride to the hospital was pleasant, and the weather looked promising for our planned trip to the beach as soon as all the echoes were finished.  

Once we reached the hospital, all the children waited patiently for their echoes in the waiting room. Anes was wonderful, and his mother kept him busy by playing with him while they waited. During the echo, Anes’ mother also watched a cartoon with him to keep him distracted. He only cried a little bit when the examination moved closer to the more sensitive areas around his scars. I love to watch the close bond between this mother and child. There is such gentleness in the way they communicate and how she is able to calm him with her soft voice during upsetting times. 

After the echo was complete, we received excellent news: Anes' heart is healing well, and he is discharged. His mother was, of course, delighted when the doctor with a smile simply said, "bye bye." As we walked out, we shared in the joy of Anes' complete healing and his upcoming return to his family, though we will be sad to see them leave our Shevet family. 

We soon headed for the beach after leaving the hospital. When we arrived, the sun was shining, the water sparkling blue, and the ocean breeze gently greeting us. We carried everything down, took off our shoes, and walked down to the water’s edge. It always amazes me to see the endless ocean, a part of God’s beautiful creation. This is a sight I have seen countless times, and it is still breathtaking. It was especially sweet to be there today, however, as our Kurdish friends got to see it for the first time.

At first, Anes was a bit skeptical about the water. He was not quite sure what to do with it and therefore was more comfortable on his mother’s arm. 

His mother, on the other hand, loved the water and spent a long time walking around in it, looking for sea shells and taking pictures.

After some time, we took a break from the water and had a wonderful picnic together, prepared by the mothers and some of the volunteers. Everyone seemed to be ready for another go at the water and the waves after eating, and the food must have given Anes a new burst of energy because after lunch the water became his number one playground. 

Suddenly he was not worried anymore but instead embraced the waves. He ran around in the water, laughing and having a great time either chasing the waves or some of the volunteers.

It was a time of joy and laughter for all the families—a time we all will remember. The drive back to Jerusalem gave Anes a time to rest after what had been a day of both great news and discovering a new part of God’s amazing creation.

Blossoming Like a Rose

Posted on Mon, 01/27/2014 - 21:14 by SV

Today Anes had a post-surgery follow-up echo. He is recovering well, and we were happy to accompany him to another check-up to confirm his continued progress. While we were at the waiting area, I began pondering how coming to Israel really made a change in his life. Even though he didn’t look ill before surgery, I know he would not have had a normal life if he had continued without treatment.

The echo came and went smoothly.

Thanks to its positive results, Anes’ prescribed medicine has been completely discontinued. He has one last echo to go (possibly next Monday), and we are thrilled to know he might be going home soon if the examination goes well. 

After our visit today we went outside the children’s ward and took pictures with the garden roses.

As Anes smelled the roses, I thought of how beautifully he has progressed and how he is like that rose—blossoming!

Good Follow-Up News

Posted on Mon, 01/20/2014 - 17:21 by SV

Anes had his first post-surgery echo this morning.

We were quite optimistic about this echo because of Anes’ fast recovery from his operation. The doctors said Anes still has some fluid around his heart and needs to remain on medication in order to decrease the fluid. His heart, however, looks good, and he will be coming back for his second echo next Monday.

Though it's only been less than a week since his surgery, Anes is filled with energy and happiness.

We are hoping he will continue to recover smoothly with no complications. Anes and his mom will be staying a couple more weeks here at Shevet as they wait for Anes’ continued recovery, so please join us in prayer for them. Pray for healing for Anes’ heart and for his medications to decrease the fluid levels in his heart.

Discharged From the Hospital!

Posted on Sun, 01/19/2014 - 21:13 by Jesse Tilman

Anes has been in the children’s ward for the last few days and was cleared to leave the hospital this afternoon. He’s doing well and finding his strength. Wide-eyed and listening, he always seems to be drinking in the world around him. 

As we headed back to the Shevet base, we paused for a photo outside in the bright sun.

Anes squinted into the warm light and put his concentrating face on. Now and then he focuses on something, and it shows so clearly in his expression. With his mind and body pushing forward, he’s quickly becoming healthier.

Last Day in the ICU

Posted on Thu, 01/16/2014 - 19:59 by Marisa Schindler

When I visited Anes and his mom this afternoon, both were doing well, and it was a joy to see them. After a good surgery, Anes is well on the path to recovery. Today he ate a little bit of bread and oranges, which is a good sign of his coming back to a normal life.

During our visit, Anes was bored of lying down in bed.

He wanted to go home immediately, getting away from all this medical treatment and bed rest. His mom, though, knew how to entertain him through talking to him and showing him videos.

Throughout our time at the hospital, Anes’ mom was content and peaceful. We had a great talk about her work teaching at home. She is a talented woman, teaching Arabic and Kurdish full-time. Through her English-speaking skills, we are able to communicate well, which makes everything easier. She is a wonderful mother and does a beautiful job helping Anes feel secure and entertained.

It seems Anes will be relocated to the children’s ward tonight if his health continues to improve. All in all, he looks well cared for. Your prayers for continued recovery are appreciated.

A Peaceful Day

Posted on Wed, 01/15/2014 - 20:43 by Eilin Midtbo

Today I was able to visit Anes and his mother at the hospital. I was looking forward to seeing how he was doing after his surgery yesterday. When we got to the hospital, his mother was outside the ICU because they were extubating him. After a short while, the staff came and told his mother she could go back to him. When we came in Anes was doing well, though he was a bit unhappy because of his uncomfortable oxygen mask. He was also thirsty and kept asking his mother for milk. His mother talked softly to Anes, constantly caring for him and shedding tears when he cried. After a short time the nurse was able to remove the oxygen mask and replace it with a nasal canula, which was much more comfortable for him. They also let him have a bottle of water, which he happily drank. He still wanted milk, though, so the nurse told his mother to wait for 30 minutes and see how he responded to the water. His mother explained this to Anes, and the promise of milk calmed him down.

While we were at the hospital, Anes' mother received several phone calls from family members who all wanted to know how Anes was doing. After every call she turned to me and told me who it was and how she had told the caller Anes was doing well. It must be a great relief to both her and the rest of her family to know Anes' heart has been fully healed and he will grow up healthy and strong.

During our time with them, the beautiful bond between mother and child was so evident. When Anes was given water, and then later milk, his eyes were constantly on his mother while he was drinking.

I loved watching this silent communication where words were not necessary. It reminded me of how we as God’s children only have to look to Him for a feeling of safety and love during times of discomfort or trouble, knowing He sees us and cares for us. 

Before we left, I asked Anes' mother how she was doing. Her reply was that when Anes is doing well, she is doing well. When we left the hospital, Anes was sleeping peacefully, well on his way to recovery—and his mother was doing well also.

A Peaceful and Unusual Surgery Day

Posted on Wed, 01/15/2014 - 00:40 by Marisa Schindler

Hallelujah! Anes had a great surgery today without any complications. Still sleeping and being provided with oxygen, he is in a good and stable condition. His mom was delighted and thankful to hold Anes’ hand again after being apart from her son for several hours. The greatest moment of a surgery day is to look into a mother’s relieved and happy face when her child gets transported from the surgery room to the ICU. Now the period of fearful waiting is over, and Anes can start his recovery. The doctors did a full repair of his heart, which gives Anes a life expectancy of a normal, healthy human.

Today was quite a unique and exciting day, different than the other surgeries we normally experience. The reason for this was that a special camera team (from an American—Iraqi television station) documented Anes’ special day by following us through the hospital. From the early afternoon till the evening, the camera team tried to obtain an overview of what it looks like to have a heart surgery far from home. Although Anes was hungry because of his pre-surgery fasting, he posed and showed his cute but shy smile to the camera.

To go beyond simply pictures, the camera team interviewed Anes’ mom about her son’s health situation and the long journey from Kurdistan to Israel for his heart surgery. The camera man continued to videotape Anes from any possible perspective to retain the best picture during this, but I can tell you Anes looked adorable from each perspective with his big, dark eyes and his little, button nose.

After a while, Anes decided to end the video time by crying and asking for cookies over and over again. It was time to change the location to distract him from his persistent hunger. The best choice was the nearby playground outside with big playhouses, slides and swings. Anes enjoyed every minute of playing.

He was running around, laughing out loud, and climbing up from house to house. Kristina and I played hide and seek with him. He was such a clever boy, hiding in a corner of the house while only showing his shy face. But nothing is impossible, and we finally caught him and tickled him until he was screaming and laughing. What a fun time. But a look besides me to Anes’ worried mom reminded me that this little boy would be facing a dangerous surgery within the next few hours.

It was already late afternoon (around 3 pm) when we were called to the surgery room for the final preparations. Followed by the TV team, Anes’ mom stayed calm and confident. Through her love towards her son and her knowing exactly his needs, I saw how great and loving her personality is. When Anes started to cry, she took him and held him tight to her chest while kissing his cute face. In this peaceful moment of saying goodbye in such a loving way, Anes felt asleep in her arms. The next half an hour we waited for the upcoming anesthesia while Anes slept on, almost as if he had already been anesthetized.

What a blessed and peaceful moment which made us so thankful. A cold and unpleasant anesthesia through Anes’ IV line soon woke him up, however, and he started to cry out of fear. Thankfully his mom was at his side to comfort him and give him a few last kisses. Big tears rolled down her cheeks as the medical staff slowly moved Anes out of sight into the operating room. We put our arms around her to comfort her and show her she was not alone.

The next 3 hours we spent waiting in the children’s ward with our other Kurdish families and coworkers. Everyone was consoling and compassionate. After a short, exhausted nap and some prayer, Anes’ mom was ready to walk to the waiting area in front of the ICU. Within half an hour, Kristina recognized the surgeon, who told us the surgery went well. Barely a few minutes later, a team of medical staff moved Anes down the hallway to the ICU.

With happy tears in our eyes, we fell into each other’s arms. It was not easy to see Anes with all the tubes in the ICU, but we are so thankful for his good surgery and his stable condition.

All in all, I can testify to a great and peaceful day with the gift of a new and healthy life. Praise be to God for his love and care. Let’s not forget to continue to pray for Anes' continued recovery and for his family.

Approaching a Healed Heart

Posted on Mon, 01/13/2014 - 22:08 by Rahel Eschler

Anes never looks forward to going to the hospital. As a young child, it’s hard for him to understand why the medical staff does things that are not very enjoyable. His mother and I know everything is for his good, though, and we do our best to support him. But this morning as Anes’ mother grabbed her heavy bags and her small son, Anes was not pleased. 

As we gathered together in the front yard to send them off with prayers, however, Anes was already in a better mood. While we were singing a Kurdish children song about our strong and mighty God, Anes was enjoying the strong arms of volunteer Philip.

Then we hit the road to Tel Aviv’s Wolfson Hospital with confident hearts. One nap later, Anes arrived at the children’s ward, where he had to wait till it was his turn to get examined by the medical staff. We had no difficulties passing the time as we played a fun ball game. Then we were called into the nurse’s office for the admission procedure. The doctor is used to treating young children and was able to catch Anes’ attention immediately. Anes grabbed the doctor's green stamp and wouldn’t let it go till his fingers were colored black.

Then the doctor had to insert an IV line and take a blood sample. This was the moment Anes was most afraid of. And he started to scream with all his strength. Unfortunately the doctor needed several attempts to succeed. But then the painful part was over, though Anes didn’t believe our repeated words of “Challas” (“finished”) right away. He needed some time in his mother’s arms to calm down. I got his smile back, though, by blowing up a plastic glove, after which he asked for a pen to write on it. This occupied him for a little while.

The highlight of the day later on was a visit to the hospital’s shopping mall with all his Kurdish friends.

Anes got some delicious chocolate cookies which he shared joyfully with me at the end of our hospital visit. I kissed him good-bye and wished his mother God’s blessing for the surgery day tomorrow. I recommend my dearest ones to our Lord in heaven who is almighty and faithful.          

Anes' Surgery Delayed

Posted on Mon, 12/30/2013 - 21:27 by Rahel Eschler

Anes’ hope for surgery today didn’t come true. Late last night we heard Anes had suddenly come down with a high fever. As a result, the medical staff had to cancel the open heart surgery for him today. They put him on antibiotics for the next few days to ensure the infection is effectively removed. 

We headed out to Tel Aviv to look after them this morning. We found Anes sitting on his mother’s lap, already feeling better. But he didn’t fully understand the circumstances. He was just happy nobody was hindering him from enjoying some chips. 

The nurses discharged him, and while waiting for our private taxi back home to Shevet Achim, we became witnesses of a rare event. The hospital had to shut down the intensive care unit, due to a highly contagious virus which contaminated the whole unit. It will take them the next few days to clean the whole ICU, which means no surgeries will be performed in the meantime. 

Anes was excited to leave the hospital, and his mother displayed a positive attitude despite the disappointment. We spent a few minutes in the playground outside the hospital before heading home to the Shevet base.

Please pray with us for his quick recovery from this infection and for perseverance and joy during their extended waiting time here in Jerusalem. We trust in our almighty God, that He works for the good of those who love Him.