Wisam's Heart Surgery

Northern Iraq

A Visit In Germany!

Posted on Sun, 08/14/2016 - 23:26 by Konrad Wiedmer

This past weekend we had the great privilege to visit one of the children who came to Israel for heart surgery two years ago. Life had taken us all in different directions but somehow God made it possible to meet in Germany. Wisam and his parents are now living in northern Germany. Sarah (who is a nanny in Munich) and I (Konrad) stayed for one night with the whole family.

During the time together, we remembered the memories we had shared. Wisam's father was recalling the very long surgery day two years ago. At that moment, he didn't know if his family was still alive because they were fleeing to Syria due to an IS (Isis) invasion of their hometown. I remember the moment when the father and I prayed together in front of the hospital, which made a strong impression on me. Praise God, his family did escape safely and awaited Wisam and his father's return in a temporary, safer home.

Now we were sitting in the family's living room in Germany, and the whole family is here together. Wisam's father had made the difficult journey over land and water to Germany by himself one and a half years ago, where his brother, who has been living in Germany for many years now, was able to take him in. Over time, the door was opened for the rest of his family to join him also. They have been blessed by this time with a large home that is perfect for their family of eight. It even has a large yard where the six brothers and sisters can run around together. This fall, the older children will begin school, Wisam will probably join a German kindergarten.
From the beginning of our visit we could sense the thankfulness of the father as well as the father's brother for the help they have received in Israel and also here in Germany. The whole family is a wonderful example of how integration should happen. They already know people who help them to get into the daily German life here, and especially Wisam's father pointed out several times it is important for him to learn the language to communicate properly.

In the evening we enjoyed a Kurdish meal and the whole family cared for us lovingly. Wisam's older siblings were very sweet and respectful, and even used the little bit of German they have learned with us. Wisam himself, as well as his younger twin brothers, were quite shy when we first arrived, but they warmed up fairly quickly.


We were playing peek-a-boo, hide and seek, and catch in no time. It was so amazing to think back to when Wisam was just taking his very first steps in Israel, and to see him now running around, playing soccer, and wrestling with his brothers. He has not had an echo since he arrived in Germany, but he has an appointment for an echo at the end of this month. He looks to be strong and healthy though - and a little strong-willed.

Wisam's father expressed to us over and over throughout our time together that we and everyone at Shevet Achim are family to him. It was beautiful to see the spirit of Shevet Achim - brothers dwelling together in unity - having a lasting effect in the life of this family, as it has in our lives also.

So Long & Farewell

Posted on Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:37 by Rebekah Yang

As I recall how Wisam began to steal my heart, I can sense myself again rising with full love and compassion towards little Wisam and Abu Wisam ("father of Wisam"). In the beginning, I saw Abu Wisam always hold little Wisam and encouraging him to play with other children like Dawod, Masa, even later on with Raiyan and Dana. Both father and son were so cheerful and easy to play with.

As the news reports came in that ISIS was committing horrible atrocities against the Yazidi people in Northern Iraq, Abu Wisam became increasingly irritated that little Wisam’s heart operation had not been scheduled. I later discovered that Abu Wisam began to smoke more and more regularly every day because of the increased anxiety. So, every morning when I greeted him, I said: “Abu Wisam, sabah alkhair, anta ques bas dohan no ques.” Well, it’s a mix of Arabic & English together, meaning: “Good morning, Abu Wisam. You are a good man but smoking is not good….” Then after few times of these conversation, he realized I was rebuking him for smoking. He then opened up to me about his whole family, and the great danger they were enduring under the threat of ISIS back in Iraq.

I could not imagine how he was coping with life’s changes at that moment. On one hand, he was not entirely sure whether his whole family was still alive, and on the other he was anxiously anticipating a life-saving heart operation for his one-year-old. The same day after I heard his story, I began to pray for him, and composed a one-page prayer letter to send back to Taiwan, among other places, to inform my prayer partners how they can be praying for them. Praise God for the healing miracle He had in store for our sweet Wisam!

After an open-heart operation lasting many hours, and a re-opening his chest due to the discovery of bleeding the same day, he contracted an infection. He was then re-admitted to the hospital for antibiotic treatment. I count so many reasons to give thanks to our awesome God. Another exciting thing began to happen: Wisam began to walk more and more steps after he came back to Prophets Street. Sometimes he just stretched his two arms towards people who are in front of him, which alerted them that he wanted walk toward them. He likes to clap his hands when we sing worship songs. At his farewell party, all of us enjoyed him, especially his laughing, playing, and clapping.

On the day of his ‘hafla hafla’ (party), I had really mixed emotions about my dear 'Ha-bi-bi' Wisam; I knew our mighty God’s hand was leading him into his new life of healing. However it also meant I would not be able to see him anymore, apart from God crossing our paths again in the future. I know it will take a long time to adjust after he leaves, but I will continue to pray for him & his loving father.

"My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." --Proverbs 3:1-6  

Long-Awaited Day!

Posted on Mon, 09/08/2014 - 21:28 by Julia Binder

Today was Wisam and his father’s the long-awaited day: the final echo! Wisam's heart is doing great, and how the doctor said: “We have perfect results!” This means, Wisam can go home this week; we are all rejoicing with them. After this news, the joy of Abu Wisam was high, and although Wisam can not quite understand what is going on, the joy of his father has automatically transferred to him. He was in a very happy mood and played enthusiastically on the playground. Today was also a joyful day, because for the first time he ran a few steps alone. This made the day even more special for us. Fortunately on this moment I had my camera handy, so I used the chance and took these pictures of his first steps:

After the final echo we went with Wisam and Dawod to the beach. Wisam fell asleep, but his father enjoyed the time in the warm water. He made jokes with Dawod and started a water fight with him.

The whole time we were at the beach, he was in the water. It was so wonderful to see him and his insouciance, he is such a funny guy, and is always cracking jokes. I am so thankful to have gotten to know him and one of the cutest kids on earth: Wisam.

Habibi Wisam's Echo Day

Posted on Mon, 09/01/2014 - 22:12 by Rebekah Yang

Today was the echo day for all of our children who have already had heart surgery before. We had Dawod's mother and Dowod, Raiyan's mother and Rayian, and of course, our habibi (dear) Wisam and his father. When we reached hospital echo room, we found that there were many kids queuing outside of the echo room and waiting for their echos with Dr. Alona. At that time, Ruth suggested that we all go for a lunch picnic in the garden outside the hospital building there. After a quick lunch, we returned to the children's echo room. Praise God! This time there was no one except our own three dear, sweet kids. I went into the echo room with Wisam and his father.

After less than a half-hour, I saw Dr. Alona had a shining smile, and she said to Abu-Wisam, “Wisam’s heart is functioning wonderfully, even better than the Arabic word kwayes (good) can express.” So she only requested that Wisam come for a final echo next Monday morning. She told his father that enshallah (Lord willing), after that echo next Monday, Wisam will be finished and ready to go home. After she finished Wisam's echo, she checked his chest stitches and then sent us to children's ward for further examination there. After a nurse there checked his stitches, she told us that there is no need to remove any of Wisam's stitches; we only need to wait for the scar to heal naturally and he will be fine. I really praise God for continuing to answer our prayers for the healing of our habibi Wisam.

However, there is a bit of sadness starting to rise up from the bottom of my heart. I am realizing that not too long from now I will have to say goodbye to our habibi Wisam and his father. I think it will be a very hard moment for me…

My prayer for habibi Wisam and his father is: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”  Proverbs 9:10

Wisam Back on Prophets Street

Posted on Sun, 08/24/2014 - 23:17 by Jesse Tilman

Wisam was cleared to leave the hospital this evening. He's been recovering from a fever that had him admitted suddenly during the night about a week ago. His father was glad to be out again. Hospital days and nights are hardly ever peaceful with all that goes on there and the many patients coming and going. Wisam is looking good and is back to his playful mood.

Before coming home, though, Wisam and his father were invited to visit the congregation at St. George's Greek Orthodox church near Jaffa Port. This church has heard of him and what is happening with the Yazidis in Iraq and wanted to show their support for Wisam and his father. They would like to help by paying for him even to fly to Germany as a refugee if possible. While this is still in the works, we were grateful for their care. 

Yousif and I met them at St. George's church and sat in on an Orthodox service they were holding. At the end of it, Wisam's father went up front and answered some questions from the priest in front of everyone, talking about his situation.

Wisam was mostly quiet throughout while he was held by some of the ladies of the church. After the service, we still had more to do as a local news service wanted an interview as well.

We were all glad to head home for some rest after the full evening. God is doing a special work with this boy. Thank you for your support and prayers.

Unexpected Journey

Posted on Tue, 08/19/2014 - 21:41 by Kirsten Perow

Last night, Wisam was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital because of a high temperature, indicating a fever. According to Wisam's father, between the sleepless night and the steady stream of reporters wanting to interview him (because he is a Yazidi Kurd), he and Wisam were both very tired when we visited them this morning.

A blood test revealed that he had an infection. Although he was discharged only yesterday, the nursing staff informed us that they were not surprised he was back; they had suspected he would contract an infection. It is nothing a night or two on antibiotics in the hospital cannot remedy! After a quick nap, Wisam was ready to go for an X-Ray, which he handled remarkably well.

Afterwards, his father asked me if I would stay with Wisam while he ate a speedy lunch, which of course my answer was, "Yes!" Sweetness exudes out of Wisam, and one cannot help but want to play with him. He and I spent the time giggling and playing "whose bottle is it anyway?" and "throw the binky on the ground and watch Kirsten retireve it." It was great fun, even though he is not feeling very well; Wisam is still full of laughs and finds joy in the little things. What a sweet boy the Lord has blessed us with. Pray our little friend recovers rapidly!

Pleasant Anticipation

Posted on Sun, 08/17/2014 - 22:39 by Konrad Wiedmer

On this hot Sunday, we arrived at Wolfson hospital intending to visit Wisam, his father, and the father of baby Ahmad. One week after Wisam’s long heart operation, today was supposed to be the day of his discharge and return to Prophets Street, so we were very glad to see him actively sitting up in his bed. His father was beside him watched his son with joy and pride in his eyes. As we entered Wisam’s room in the children’s ward, we found Sheila, a photographer of Save A Child’s Heart. She was as fascinated as we were by little, lovely Wisam, and had already taken some nice photographs of him, which she immediately showed us. She also wanted to take a picture with Wisam, his father and the three of us.

After a while, Dr. Houri came into the room, and we also took pictures of him sitting next to Sheila, the father and his son. But the photo session of this beautiful day did not end at this point; our little superstar, Wisam, played with balloons, ate cookies, and drank milk, which kept all of us photographers busy for the afternoon.

Before we left the hospital, a nurse came in to do some last tests, which made Wisam cry. After he passed through them and was coming back to his father's arms, he immediately stopped crying. This scene reminded me of a verse in the Bible in the book of Revelation: “For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” Revelation 7:17. What a great promise, which makes it worth waiting for all the more patiently!

In the meantime, while Ruth was bringing the car around, Wisam’s father noticed Dr. Sasson, the surgeon who operated Wisam. He eagerly approached him, wishing to have a photograph taken with him. It was good to see his busy man make time for this precious moment, even though he was noticeably busy.

Then we all loaded into the van and departed for Prophets Street. Praise the Lord for Wisam’s good condition; He is powerful and mighty and gives us joy and strength, and this is what this day taught me.

Habibi Wisam

Posted on Wed, 08/13/2014 - 22:50 by Rebekah Yang

Our sweet Wisam is really progressing well in his healing process after his big heart operation. Thanks to God for continuing to answer our prayers for him! When I went to his ward, Abu-Wisam was so cheerful. He welcomed me with a big smile, shook my hand, and kept pouring thanks on Shevet, the hospital, and even the Israeli government.

Generally speaking, little Wisam is still weak and lacking strength due to his recent big heart operation. He did eat while I tried to feed him some food in the hospital. He also drank quite few juices, which was a good sign for sure. According to the doctor’s opinion, little Wisam is doing pretty well. His vital signs were stable these last few days, and she has prescribed him a high protein milk powder once a day to regain his strength quickly.

Before I said good-bye to Abu Wisam, I said a quick prayer in my heart that “The Lord may you continue to bless habibi (Arabic, ‘sweetheart’) Wisam and his father in Wolfson hospital, as well as his whole family back home in Northern Iraq.” God is Wisam’s help and refuge!

“Our soul waiteth for the LORD: He is our help and our shield.”  Psalms 33:20

Received with Joy

Posted on Mon, 08/11/2014 - 20:09 by Kristina Kayser

After Wisam's formidable surgery day yesterday, our community continued in a spirit of intercession for his heart and life this morning. To our knowledge, he was still in the critical hours in ICU with his chest waiting to be sewn shut. When Kirsten, Marisa, and I arrived at Wolfson several hours later, we found our prayers already answered in a most powerful way. Wisam's father was standing at the entrance beaming! He greeted everyone with hugs and handshakes, and the smile on his face seemed permanently etched in place. The truth of the scripture rang true which says, "…tears may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." I found Wisam sound asleep upon entering the ICU. It was the first time I had seen his skin with such a beautiful and healthy flush of pink. He was only receiving a minimal amount of oxygen via a mask followed by a nasal cannula, and all of his vital signs were stable.

Shortly thereafter, I spoke with Dr. Alona about his current condition. Her enthusiastic report matched the outward progress I had witnessed. She was clearly happy with how well Wisam was faring, and said that they closed his chest last night without further complication. And early this morning, doctors saw fit to extubate Wisam and take him off of the ventilator. 

We also praise God today for Wisam's father being able to contact several family members in Kurdistan, including his wife and father. Praise the Lord for His great faithfulness and love towards Wisam and his entire family! May He continue to draw them closer to Himself day by day.

The Reward of Endurance

Posted on Sun, 08/10/2014 - 23:48 by Konrad Wiedmer

After a good journey from Jerusalem to the Wolfson Hospital in Tel Aviv, we arrived at almost 7:00am. Wisam and his father were still sleeping, so we could experience how calm Wisam’s sleep was. After a while, Wisam had to be woken up because a team of nurses declared that it was time for his surgery immediately.

We all followed the bed together, with little Wisam in it, to the preparation room beside the operation room. Before saying goodbye to Wisam, we took a few pictures of him with Ruth, Rebekah, and his father.

This was a very touching and intense moment, and Wisam started crying because he realized that he has to separate from his daddy. When we left the operation area, a long time of waiting began. At this time, we didn’t know how many hours it would ultimately take us to wait. But even with this unknown schedule, Wisam’s father showed great patience and calmness.

Another great experience was to pray together with the father in front of the hospital. He prayed in Kurdish, I in English, but both for the same reason: Wisam’s surgery and his health. Sitting outside, we tried to start a conversation, although none of us could speak the other’s language. Nevertheless, we understood each other without communication. What made the situation even more complicated for the father was that he had to worry about his family in Iraq because of the tense situation there. He tried to call them very often, but he couldn’t get a successful phone call. Added to that stress was the fact that he was waiting for the surgery of his son for a very long time, and he had slept only a few hours the night before. Fortunately, God is present even more in those moments of weakness. So what happened next was another hopeful situation of the day because the fathers of baby Ahmad and Wisam's father met a kind and friendly Israeli janitor, who got them into a warm conversation. The janitor wanted to take pictures and declared Wisam's father as his new friend.

One hour before Wisam came back from the surgery, I was able to talk to Wisam's father’s brother in German (because he has been living in Germany). That was obviously a good idea because his brother translated some information that helped calm Wisam’s father’s heart again. After nearly 8 hours, Wisam was brought out of the operation room into the direction of the ICU, and his father ran towards him to see his beloved son.

Thank God, the operation was successful, but at this time, Wisam’s heart functions had to still be under surveillance because of potential incidents. Then the doors of the ICU closed behind the bed, and baby Ahmad’s dad and Wisam’s embraced, happy and grateful to see the little boy again after such a long time. After a good and strengthening dinner for Wisam’s father, we were waiting for other information. Then we found out that Wisam had internal bleeding, so the doctors had decided to open his chest again in order to stop the bleeding.

At the end of the day, Wisam’s chest is still open now to make sure that he won’t lose blood anymore. Generally, his condition is stable, but the first 72 hours after such a big and complicated surgery are still risky. So please keep praying for Wisam, his lovely father, and his family as well. All in all, I was happy to be able to experience the confraternity of this special and long day. This confraternity is given to us by the Lord, and for that reason, we are able to share it with others in our environment: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.” (John 17:22) In the end, the Lord has been the provider through every single moment of this day and deserves unending praise.