Brievan's Heart Surgery


Valuable in God's Eyes

Posted on Wed, 07/15/2015 - 17:14 by Sophie H.

Brievan is a little girl, and her grandmother is the only person she has trusted a lot. When we met her at Kurdistan Save the Children (KSC), she was a little bit shy. Her grandmother was so happy to see us .

Our hearts have united together since their time in Israel.  When I saw her grandmother, my heart could feel her sorrow and see the tears around her eyes. Her life is so hard, she needs to bear so much pain for lost family members and carry the family's burden to take care of other children, but God does not forget them. God found Brievan and brought her to Israel and had a successful surgery. Since then, Brievan went back to camp but she still has a different physical problem.

Thanks be to God for the continuing help from KSC. Renas is apart of the staff of KSC. She worked so hard to help them for the appointment for surgery and transportation. The grandmother had missed the surgery once, so Renas just wanted to make sure everything was good. She spent a lot time to help them and showed love to them. I was so inspired by passion of her work. Like she said, I do not look at it as a job, it is more of mission, and each child is inspiration. May God's eyes be upon her and be with her all of her days!

After Brievan's surgery, we had the chance with KSC to bring them back home. When we got to the hospital, they were ready to leave. We helped carry their belongings and then started the journey back to the camp.

Before we went to Kurdistan, A friend of one of the Shevet volunteers sent a handmade dress for Brievan. When we handed the dress to Brievan's grandmother, she immediately changed her into it. It is a beautiful dress, made by love.

I shared with them how precious I know she is! Her life is valuable to God and us, we love her so much. She was very famous; around the world a lot people are praying for her.

Please keep praying for this precious family, may God give them new mercy every day and that they will see God 's blessing toward them. Pray that they will  understand God loves them so much and wants never to forsake them. Each of them is valuable in His sight.


A Family Not Forsaken

Posted on Sun, 11/02/2014 - 16:04 by Ruth Zellweger

On our recent trip to Kurdistan we had the chance to visit Brievan and her grandmother in Kurdistan. Before we went to the refugee camp, where they have been residing for nearly a year, we met with some of the staff from Kurdistan Save the Children (KSC), a Kurdish organization that helps children with medical needs, including children with congenital heart defects. During that meeting, we explained that we would like to go and see how Brievan is doing. It was then that they shared with us the sad news that Brievan's grandfather had recently be killed in a car accident; that was just one more calamity for their family to endure. They had to flee the civil war in Kurdistan, leaving most of their belongings behind. After their oldest daughter gave birth to a beautiful girl, Brievan, she passed away. Brievan’s father disappeared soon after, and no one knows his whereabouts. Then, to add to it all, they found out that Brievan had a congenital heart defect that needed surgical repair.

God intervened and prepared the way for Brievan to travel with her grandmother to Israel for life-saving treatment. Life seemed to be getting better for the family. They moved from a tent in the camp into a cinderblock house. Also, the family opened a small shop to support themselves. Brievan's grandfather was the main supporter of the family, and was well respected among the people in the camp. About six weeks ago, he had left the camp to buy some produce, when he was hit by a car; he did not survive. We knew it would not be an easy visit, but all the more we wanted to visit the family and come alongside them for support.

Brievan's grandmother stood in the little doorway leading into the shop, little Brievan on her arms. When she saw us, she hugged Kristina, Sophie, and me, with tears falling from her eyes. Even though communication had not been easy during their time in Israel, we all had a strong bond with her. We were family to her, and she and Brievan were also part of our Shevet family. She welcomed us into her simple but clean room, and offered us the best she had: soda and delicious little chocolates. We talked with her about what had happened and asked how Brievan was doing. During the whole time of our visit Brievan did not want to leave the side of her grandmother or her uncles, who had been showing up one by one as we sat and talked.

Brievan's grandmother is carrying many burdens and shared with us that it can all be quite overwhelming. We shared with her the verse Psalm 68:5, where God is described as a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows. He has not forgotten or forsaken this precious family, and He will never do so. He blessed Brievan's grandmother with two grown up sons, who support her as much as they can, He healed Brievan's little heart, and He is a God of hope.

Our prayer for this family is that they will be filled with His peace, and that they will daily experience God's comfort and strength. 

His Love, Pursuing

Posted on Mon, 07/21/2014 - 21:43 by Sarah Powell

When Brievan first came into contact with our community, she had been living in a tent in a refugee camp in Northern Iraq and was in such weak condition that it was very uncertain whether she would even survive the upcoming winter. It was there that we first learned her story. She does not live with her parents any longer because her mother died in childbirth and her father left the family. Now she lives with her grandmother, who has adopted Brievan as her own daughter and loves her as even more than a daughter. Brievan's grandmother has told us on several occasions that her love for her granddaughter is something that she can not even express with words. She says that it is as though Brievan is a part of her.

Though she may not feel that she is able to express her love for Brievan in words, Brievan's grandmother has definitely not failed to express her love in other ways. She came all the way to Israel for the sake of her granddaughter, leaving behind family and familiarities for the unknown and even exposing herself to the seemingly dangerous as she traveled to an “enemy” country. Once she was here, she ceaselessly sought the best for her granddaughter as she followed her through the surgery and healing process, caring for her needs continually along the way. Therefore, despite her lack of words to describe her love for Brievan, she definitely succeeded in proving her love through her willingness to risk all for Brievan's sake and through her loyal care for Brievan while they were here.

Brievan was born with a Ventricular Septal Defect, or VSD. This meant that there was a hole between the two chambers of her heart that was allowing oxygenated blood to mix with deoxygenated blood so that her body was continually short on oxygen. When she first arrived in Israel and had her initial checkups, the doctors were not sure whether Brievan would actually be able to have surgery to close up that hole in her heart. One of the side-effects of a VSD is that the patient often develops pulmonary hypertension unless the condition is treated very early. It was thought that this could be the case with Brievan. However, thank God, the doctors decided that she was actually still operable. On the 16th of June, Brievan underwent open-heart surgery and came out with a fully repaired heart. Now, by God's grace, she should be able to live a full, long, and unhindered life.

Brievan shared her farewell party with Niyaz, who was discharged to return home the same day as she. During the celebrations, we took time to share with Brievan and her grandmother some memories and joys that we recalled from our time with them. I do not often have the time to just spend freely enjoying the company of the families that are here, so a lot of times I feel as though I have not gotten to know them very well. But I remember one rare occasion where I was spending the morning with the families upstairs and Brievan's grandmother began to ask me about myself, my family, and my country. This small conversation, in a mix of the little bit of Arabic and Kurdish that I know, allowed she and I to become friends of some sort. My other most vivid memory of her is of a time when I was in the families' kitchen, crouched down, putting away sheets in the linen closet there. Brievan's grandmother came into the kitchen, walked over to me, and simply caressed the top of my head, smiling. The morning they left to return to Northern Iraq, her eyes were filled with tears as she kissed each of us goodbye. I am always amazed that these mothers, who are giving so much of themselves as they go through the emotional roller coaster of their children's surgeries, still have love left over to give to us. This too, I know, is because of God's grace at work in all of our lives.

As we stood in the parking lot, tissues in hand, ready to wave off Brievan, her grandmother, Niyaz, and her mother, Kirsten pointed up to the dining room window of the families' living quarters.

“That's where Brievan usually stands,” she said.

For every farewell said to volunteers or children since Brievan arrived, Brievan had always been standing at that window – her grandmother seated behind her – smiling and waving as her pigtails bounced around. This time, she was not in that window to wave away those leaving. Instead, we were waving our farewells to her.

Since this was the first time Syrian refugees from Iraq had traveled through Jordan to Israel, there was some uncertainty as the time came for them to return through Jordan, compounded by the fact that their travel documents had by now expired. But the Jordanian authorities showed traditional, gracious hospitality at the border.

Brievan and Niyaz stopped over for a night with Jonathan and Michelle in Amman, full of gratitude for all they have experienced.

And finally it was time to wave goodbye to them at the airport.

The way that God has proved His faithfulness to Brievan over and over again, even in her very short life, has astounded me. For all of the struggles that she has gone through, she has also experienced so much blessing for one so young and so new to life. I only pray that Brievan's grandmother will eagerly share with her granddaughter this story of God's grace in her life at a time when Brievan is old enough to really understand it. May they never forget God's love shown to them here, and may they continue to see His love pursuing them each and every day.  

Brievan Officially Discharged

Posted on Thu, 07/17/2014 - 20:27 by Ruth Zellweger

Today, we went with Brievan to the hospital one last time for her final echo. The cardiologists had already mentioned that she was ready to return to Kurdistan, but today it was made official, as we received the discharge papers after one last echo. We will celebrate Brievan's healed heart tonight with a cake, joyful songs, and a picture DVD of her time in Israel.

Final Echo in Two Stages

Posted on Mon, 07/14/2014 - 21:53 by Ruth Zellweger

Today, Kirsten and I took Brievan and Niyaz for what were supposedly their final echoes. Brievan's grandmother had been very much looking forward to this day, as she is longing to return to her family in Northern Iraq. The doctor performing the echo was the same one that has been there the last several weeks. She really likes our little Brievan, especially her two pigtails. Throughout the first minutes of the echo, Brievan cried and could not be calmed down. But, eventually, she fell asleep and from then on everything went smoothly.

The results were  pleasing and the cardiologists have given their okay for Brievan to return home. But because of some special circumstances, they want to see her one more time this Thursday. We will then also receive her discharge report. To celebrate these good results, we went to the nearby beach. 


While Brievan's grandmother stayed on dry ground the whole time, Brievan explored further. On Kirsten's arm and my arm, she went into the water. This little girl was not afraid even though the waves were high. We stayed about half an hour, enjoying the beauty of the sea and the beach. We are thankful that God is healing Brievan's heart. To Him be the glory.

A Step Closer to Home

Posted on Thu, 07/10/2014 - 20:10 by Leanne Rogerson

Brievan had her second to last Echo today. She must be getting used to Doctors examining her and having echoes done because she just laid on the bed and was happy and relaxed. Perhaps watching Dora on the TV had something to do with it, but either way she was great and allowed the Doctors to get a really good look at her heart and the blood flow.

Everything looks good and the changes to her medications from last Thursdays echo are doing their job. It looks like this happy little girl will be reunited with her family towards the end of next week. Just one more echo early in the coming week to check her heart before the Doctors send her on her way a much healthier girl than when she arrived. We praise God for her continued healing!

On the Road to Health

Posted on Thu, 07/03/2014 - 23:46 by Jesse Tilman

Brievan is on the road to health, and today’s echo showed this. She was her stoic self through much of it, only letting out a few cries and shaking her cute pig-tails a few times. The doctor took her off of one diuretic medication and put her on another for blood flow, basically keeping her at a steady level. The doctor told us that Brievan will probably be here another two weeks. The healing time is slowly marching by, and her mother is anxious to return home, of course. The doctor was positive throughout the echo, glad that Brievan is doing well. We thanked God for His healing and protection for Brievan and prepared to return home via Gaza, as we also took two Palestinian families with us. They talked a bit in the car but soon settled down to just playing with the kids. Love for children is an international language that can connect us. I'm thankful that our Father in Heaven is touching hearts this way through Shevet Achim everyday. 

Brievan in Good Health

Posted on Thu, 06/26/2014 - 22:36 by Jesse Tilman

Brievan followed the example of her calm, collected grandmother through the events of the day. She kept watching, grabbing things, occasionally smiling and giving us baby chuckles. We ascended in the elevator to the children’s echocardiogram department and sat down to wait.

The last of our three children to receive the exam today, she did remarkably well. The uncomfortable nature of the procedure usually brings some crying sooner or later in children her age. She let it out eventually too, but he experienced doctor was able to complete the echo through it. They said she is doing well and everything is in order in her healing. Her medication has not been changed, and she will be back again next week.

After the echoes were finished, we went out for lunch and some time on the grass while another child was readied to return home with us. Brievan was fascinated by a few cats that came by looking for scraps. Pets are not usual in Kurdish homes so being so close to a cat is often a novelty for child and parent alike. By and by we finished up and had to say goodbye the felines.

Heading home was a breeze; the children slept peacefully.

Gift from God

Posted on Sun, 06/22/2014 - 21:42 by Liliane Gasser

Today, as I accompanied Ruth to Wolfson hospital, I did not know which of the children who had been operated on would be coming back to Prophets Street. What a pleasure when we arrived to see little Brievan nicely dressed in the arms of her beautiful, reserved grandmother; and Niyaz’s mother also ready to come back with her sweet daughter. After warm greetings from both mothers and children, Brievan’s mother had lunch outside in the garden with her grandchild, where it was nice and cool.

Little Brievan seemed happy and quiet, however she ate very little. Afterwards, some time playing made her feel much better.

We all sat and happily shared the cool mid afternoon shade together. It really was a gift from God to see these little ones, recently operated on, and well on their way to recovery. As we loaded Brievan into the van to take here back to Prophets Street, I became a bit sad realizing I will not be able to witness either of their recoveries. I have only two days left volunteering with Shevet Achim, and in my time here I have felt the spirit of God all around. My prayer, as I prepare to leave Israel, is that the Lord would accompany each of these children on the road to recovery!

Bubbling With Joy

Posted on Thu, 06/19/2014 - 20:54 by Kirsten Perow

Brievan--the little Syrian girl who, every time I see her, brings to mind the saying "as cute as a button"--has been moved out of the ICU into the children's ward and is doing really well! She and her grandmother greeted me with big smiles and positively joyful hearts. I asked her grandmother if she needed anything, and though I speak very little Arabic, I understood her to say that all she wanted was for her granddaughter to be well and, thanks to God, she is. All of the praise belongs to the Lord for the healing of precious Brievan and for her grandmother's courageous and grateful spirit.

All of the children and mothers from Shevet, including Brievan and her grandmother, joined us for lunch in the courtyard at Wolfson, we enjoyed each other's company and relatively good cafeteria food. Seeing the women merrily bond with one another over the common factor of having their children, who were once very ill, now wonderfully healed and sitting on their laps, was a moving sight. Thank you, friends, for your prayers and love for this little girl and her loving grandmother.