Masa's Heart Surgery


Welcomed Warmly

Posted on Mon, 05/18/2015 - 16:10 by Konrad Wiedmer

On the evening of May 15th, Ryan, Ruth, and I got to visit our dear Masa from Syria at her home in Amman. Masa left Israel in August last year after a procedure that was meant to protect her heart from higher pulmonary hypertension. At that point, they could not fix the heart defect because of the pulmonary hypertension. In the next years, we hope to see her back at Shevet to have surgery to repair her heart as fully as possible. Right now, she is doing well, and Ruth handed some medicine over to the mother, who appreciated that.

Ryan showed us the way to Masa's home, and Ruth and I were very happy to see her after such a long time. We had the chance to meet her two brothers as well as her sister. I was really impressed by one of the brothers, who cared so lovingly about whether I was sitting comfortably. The whole family welcomed us warmly, and they prepared a meal even though we were there late in the evening. Masa remembered us but was very shy in the beginning. At one point, we started to sing “Shabbat Shalom.” At first, she held her hands over her ears, but later on, she sang it silently along with us. It was so amazing to see her remembering a song we sang with her in Jerusalem. All in all, it was a joyful visit, and I was glad that I had the opportunity to be a part of it.

What a beautiful gift it is to visit families after they have returned to their homes! Please pray for God's healing hand on Masa and her family, as well as for the father, who is currently back in Syria to earn money for the family.

Like Sunshine on My Face

Posted on Sun, 08/24/2014 - 23:44 by Kristina Kayser

If I could choose something to personify Masa, it would be pure sunshine. From the moment I met her, it was clear that this lovely girl radiates joy and warmth and love. So, it was no surprise that she quickly won my heart. My little friend with her curly brown locks, sparkling eyes, and scratchy voice (so similar to mine when I was her age) bid us farewell this past Wednesday. And much like the sun bathes the earth in its luminance even long after it has set, so has Masa left her warmth in our hearts.

When this charming four-year-old first arrived in Israel, she and her mother were welcomed with open arms into our Shevet family.

It didn't take long for her shyness to melt away and for her to become a little sister to us all. One of my earliest memories of Masa was when I sat with her for our first daily assessment together. She seemed immediately fascinated by my stethoscope and thermometer. And after observing me for a few minutes, she decided to take on the role of assistant and began helping me check the other children. From that point on, I dubbed her "Doctora Masa." It was also nice of her to check my own heart and temperature from time to time and offer her professional expertise. 

Another characteristic I love about Masa is her generous spirit. She readily shared her chocolates as well as hugs and kisses, of which I was often the lucky recipient. Perhaps, in part, it is her giving and sweet nature that make her a friend to child and adult like. The nurses and doctors at Wolfson, likewise, loved her. Before leaving the hospital after her final appointment, one of the OR nurses returned her generosity and showered her with gifts. He could not have found a more grateful recipient. 

Regarding Masa's medical condition, her journey in Israel was somewhat complicated. The cardiology team at Wolfson invited her to come but gave no promise for treatment. This was due to the fact that surgery to correct Masa's heart is an extremely risky one. While doctors did their best to adjust her physiology for more than a month with medication and daily oxygen, they determined that her heart is still not ready for a full repair. Only time will tell when this optimal state is reached. The medical team did, however, successfully complete a palliative surgery to improve and maintain her cardiac function over the next few years. 

Last Monday, Dr. Tamir gave the wonderful and welcome news that Masa and her mother could return to their family in Jordan. Her mother nearly burst with joy. She hugged me so tight and then quickly asked Dr. Tamir for a picture with Masa. What a beautiful sight it was to see this small girl from Syria in the arms of this seasoned Israeli physician. Their embrace represents all that God is doing in this land to bring restoration and healing -- to fulfill His Word in making Israel a blessing to all the nations of the earth. 

Our final days with Masa were sweet and memorable. If we weren't upstairs visiting with her, she made her way downstairs to the office to visit us. I miss her voice and the way she always climbed into my lap and asked me what I was doing. By way of celebrating her heart and life, our community gathered on Wednesday afternoon for a combined party with Rozheen and her mother. Masa, who has been counting down the days to this event, couldn't have been happier. She flitted like a butterfly from one friend to another for a hug or snuggle--it was her special way of saying goodbye. With gifts, words of encouragement, and a photo DVD, we tried to express how much we love this dear girl and her mother. 

I believe our love was received and reciprocated with such gracious sincerity. Masa's mother even invited our entire staff to their home in Jordan for a visit and a meal, since we will surely miss her fine Syrian cuisine. I hope this comes to pass because it is hard to imagine never seeing my beautiful Masa again. Nevertheless, I believe that the Lord's face has shown on her, and His light and His love are able to transform her from day to day. May she come to know the full radiance of His glory and the beauty of her life in His hands.  

"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you." Isaiah 60:1

Masa's Final Echo

Posted on Mon, 08/18/2014 - 23:19 by Sophie

After Masa's final echo today, during the waiting time, we had so much fun! Masa and I, along with the other children, were chasing each other and laughing together! These children are so close to my heart. It is especially sweet watching them play together. They don't say so many words, yet they understand each other. That's amazing! Children's language!

A little while later, Dr. Tamir came and told us that Masa is strong enough to go home. However, she will probably need to come back for another surgery after two years. At that moment when the doctor told us this, we were all so shocked, and Masa's mother was so happy. Then Masa and her mother took some pictures with Dr. Tamir because they wanted to remember their important time in hospital.

Another sweet moment from the day came when Masa said goodbye to Dawod. She knew today may be the last time she sees her best friend. She was a little sad, but she is also so excited for her farewell party and all of the gifts that she will get!

Hope and Joy

Posted on Mon, 08/11/2014 - 22:09 by Kirsten Perow

Masa’s massive smile brightly greeted me this morning, as she jubilantly shouted, “Kristeeen! Bahar! We’re going to the beach!” As it was supposedly Masa’s last echo, we planned a celebratory trip to the beach for afterward. While we waited for the echo, Masa’s mother received a surprise phone call from one of the OR nurses. Upon learning about Masa and her family having escaped from the war in Syria, the nurse decided to bless Masa’s mother with some travel bags, clothes for Masa, and – to Masa’s supreme delight—a brand new baby doll!

What a priceless moment. Just when one feels the crushing blows of how brutal humans can be towards one another, God sweetly reminds of this crucial truth: Hope. The Lord used this situation to remind me that He delights in those who continue to hope in His unfailing love, and He insisted that the poor have hope and that He shall shut the mouth of injustice. After the gifts were received, Masa had her echo. The echo showed excellent healing, but despite the good news, Masa’s doctors want to have another echo or two just to make sure she is healing properly. After the doctors announced that she was not free to go back to Jordan just yet, I expected her mother to be sorely disappointed, but her mother took the news with a shrug and a smile, suggesting that she is just thankful for her daughter’s good health. Although this was not Masa’s final echo, we decided to head to the beach anyway and enjoy one of Israel’s breath-taking beaches. Masa and her mother (as well as the rest of us) had so much fun piling sand on each other and letting the warm, rushing waves clobber us.

Thank You, loving Father, for a day of remembered hope and exuberant joy.

Joyful Return

Posted on Thu, 08/07/2014 - 20:18 by Agnes Bruna

We were so excited today to go to the hospital after hearing that Masa was ready to be discharged! She had to stay one night after being diagnosed with tonsillitis. She is now on antibiotics, but was well enough to come back to Jerusalem. When we arrived she already had had her scheduled echo. We are so pleased that her echo results were good, and Dr Alona said if her next echo results are just as good, she can go back home to Jordan.

Some blood was taken for tests, and she and her mother waited patiently for the results in their room. When the tests came back clear, all that was left to do was get some more antibiotics for her, check the rest of her medication, and take out her IV cannula.

After that we went back to Jerusalem, stopping to visit some dinosaurs on the way Masa was very impressed because they were so big, much bigger than she is anyway! She is so lovely and easy going, and her mother is so loving and patient; it was great to spend a day with them. She will be missed very much when she goes back home to Jordan!

Expect the Unexpected

Posted on Wed, 08/06/2014 - 22:58 by Nick Boyum

One would not believe that the energetic girl smiling and giggling in our front courtyard on Prophets Street this morning was running a fever, but she has always been full of surprises. There were other things to attend to at the hospital anyway, so Masa and her mother came along so the nurses could have a look at her.

For a girl of four years old, Masa has an amazingly developed personality. She loves speaking and interacting with nurses and strangers alike, despite her feeling feverish. There was not one person she encountered today that did not walk away with a smile on their face. I admire her positive outlook and ability to turn any situation into a comedy show. She regarded every blood pressure strap wrapped around her arm and thermometer shoved in her mouth with a suspicious smile and a raised eyebrow of curiosity. At first it was decided she would be sent home on an antibiotic overnight, but shortly after examination it was discovered she has tonsillitis! This discovery, combined with the fact she would have been coming right back tomorrow for an echo, caused her to be admitted.

With the many surgeries and operations today at Wolfson, emotions and nerves were registering off the charts across the board, that is, except for Masa’s mother. She spent nearly the whole day calmly watching her daughter bat around balloons and beam over gifts from doctors, with a soft smile on her face. I was very aware that she was so relieved to see her little Masa being what her and God alike see her as: her little girl. The look of love and absolute adoration in her eyes over her baby girl was remarkable to behold.

Hallelu Et Adonai

Posted on Sun, 08/03/2014 - 22:40 by Kirsten Perow

Every passing day, Masa is regaining her strength and bursts with more and more vitality. She was discharged early this morning from the hospital after a quick echo and a final assessment, but because little Ahmad had his big surgery today, Rozheen, her mother, Masa, and her mother stuck around with Kristina, Yousef, and I. It was a long day of waiting, but both beautiful girls and their mothers were so patient.

It was awesome to see the mothers sharing in some of Ahmad’s father’s burden while Ahmad was in the surgery, and it was even lovelier to see how they rejoiced with Abu Ahmad when Ahmad returned from surgery stable. I’m not sure I can adequately convey how blessed I feel to be able to share in some of these unforgettable moments with the families. During our wait to see baby Ahmad, who was fresh out of surgery and was being prepped in the ICU, Masa helped create a really sweet memory I will not soon forget.

While sitting next to a Jewish family in the waiting room, Masa, the lovable Syrian girl, confidently began singing “Shabbat Shalom.” And it did not end there! Next, she instructed Kristina to sing “Hallelu Et Adonai,” commanded me to play the air guitar, and told the rest of the people in the waiting room to clap. It’s not every day that a room full of Arabs claps and sings worship songs along with a few Americans and Israelis. How good is God to give us such a great reminder to hope and rejoice in unity of all people. 

An Abundance of Love

Posted on Thu, 07/31/2014 - 22:44 by Kirsten Perow

Sweet Masa. This precious little girl has nothing but love, kisses, silly faces, and a sprinkle of sass for literally everyone she comes in contact with. After her surgery two days ago, Masa was very groggy and a bit more tearful than she usually is, which is totally acceptable considering the traumatic surgery she underwent. But it was a blessing to see some of the old Masa today during our visit.

She was still in the intermediate ICU when we first arrived, but after a bath, she was quickly moved to the children’s ward where she spent time with her best buddy, Dawod.

Masa and her mother have this endearing tradition of always wrapping my head in a scarf, fashioning a hijab for me. Then, they proceed to show me off to all of the other families and their Arab friends. This ritual generates laughs from everyone.

I do not speak very much Arabic, so I’m not totally sure all of what they are saying, but from the little I do understand, they always say, “You’re a good Arab!” along with telling me how beautiful I am.

From my very first week in Israel, Masa and her mother have genuinely welcomed me, the awkward American, into their lives. The beautiful thing is, they (Masa especially) give everyone an abundance of love and sense of belonging in their lives. Thanks be to our wonderful God for Masa, her fantastic healing, and the special role she and her mother play in our community here.

Healing by the Minute

Posted on Tue, 07/29/2014 - 20:57 by Kristina Kayser

Our Shevet entourage arrived at Wolfson early this morning due to several of our children receiving or preparing for treatment today. For Masa, today was the day doctors hoped to take her off of the mechanical ventilator, following yesterday's risky surgery. The first indication of good things to come was the reception we received from Masa's mother. She was cheerful and full of peace as she spoke of a calm night for her daughter in the ICU.

A couple hours later, Kirsten and I entered the ICU to find Masa awake, freshly extubated, and breathing on her own. She found it greatly inconvenient to be unable to stand up and get out of bed. "What is she crying for?" the doctor inquired as big tears rolled down Masa's cheeks. "She wants to go out," her mother replied. Masa is a girl on the move, and not even open heart surgery has seemed to diminish her curious and adventurous spirit.

The next hour, she was sitting up, happily playing with a resident clown and already giving instructions to those around her. And yet another hour later, we were surprised to see her wheeled out of ICU and into intermediate ICU down the hall! Truly, God is healing and strengthening Masa by the minute. Just before leaving, I visited Masa in her new room and found her almost back to her old self. She was receiving only a small amount of oxygen through her nose and looking bright. Per usual, Masa offered her adorable smile as I shifted my camera towards her. She then quickly turned her attention towards a large french fry – her first bite of food after surgery!

Thank you to everyone who has been praying for this precious girl! My heart is full of joy and thankfulness for how well she is doing. What a wonderful God we serve!

Mighty to Save

Posted on Mon, 07/28/2014 - 23:15 by Ruth Zellweger

The patience of Masa's mother, alongside ours, has been tried hard over the past weeks, which have not been easy. First of all, we knew that the planned procedure for Masa, to tighten the band around her pulmonary artery, would be risky. Secondly, her surgery was postponed several times, and twice it was canceled last minute. Even though a heart surgery is sometimes feared, it is even harder when it is suddenly canceled after the parents have prepared themselves emotionally for this major event. Masa and her mother spent the weekend with us in Jerusalem in the company of the other families on base. Saturday evening they prepared to return to the hospital, as we had received a phone call to admit her for surgery on Sunday. They got as far as the parking lot, and then came back inside because the hospital had again canceled last minute. However, Masa's mother took it with humor, thanking God for their quick and safe return!

Early this morning, Sophie and I went together for the third time to Wolfson Hospital, hoping that today would be the day of Masa's surgery. We had a smooth ride to Tel Aviv, enjoying on our way the scenery and the sunrise. And the whole day turned out to be as beautiful as the sunrise. Masa's surgery was NOT canceled. She was full of smiles the whole time before she was taken into the operation room, blowing bubbles and making funny faces.

Her joy was contagious, and every time she smiled to someone it was reflected back to her. Then the moment came when her mother had to say goodbye to her. One long last hug, and Masa was off for the OR, entertained by several medical staff. Her mother came with Sophie and I upstairs to the ward, where we spent the next hours of waiting. Actually, she is the first mother I have accompanied in the pre-operating room who has not cried after her child had been wheeled away.

However, the love she has for her daughter is obvious anyway. This became visible especially when Masa, after three and a half hours only, was transferred to the ICU. One of the doctors, who had participated in her surgery, told us that the placement of a new band around her pulmonary artery had been successful, and that she is in stable condition. Masa's mother hugged and kissed Sophie and I, thankful that her daughter is doing well. After we had lunch in the cafeteria, we went to see Masa in the ICU. There we could see for ourselves how well Masa was doing. Besides a slight fever, everything was okay. On one occasion, Masa opened her eyes but then fell back to sleep. The doctors hope to extubate her tomorrow morning if she continues to do so well.

Please rejoice with us that our heavenly Father has brought Masa through this risky surgery. We want to trust Him also for Masa's future. The banding of her pulmonary artery was necessary to reduce the high pressure in her lungs. However, it did not correct her heart problem. The doctors hope that a correction might be possible in the next two to three years. We know that without this future repair, Masa doesn't have a long life expectancy. But we want to entrust this precious girl completely into His capable hands. He is mighty to save, and His plan for Masa's life is good.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be all glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21