Ahmed's Heart Surgery


Back home with Ahmed

Posted on Mon, 11/03/2014 - 00:45 by jonathan

Two weeks after they left Jerusalem, we were able to visit Ahmed and father at their home back in Kurdistan. The whole extended clan received us with hospitality and joy. We found both Ahmed and father well, and one of our going-away gifts on the wall in their living room:

We were able to share and pray for some time with a cousin of the family who is having severe epileptic attacks. And the same night of our visit Ahmed's 82-year-old grandfather had a major stroke and was hospitalized. They're definitely in a battle zone. We want to keep this family and God's good work in their lives in our thoughts and prayers.

Like Father, Like Son

Posted on Sun, 10/05/2014 - 22:49 by Julia Binder

Ahmed was one of the children who was here at Shevet Achim from my first day here. The other volunteers told me that at his first day he was hardly strong enough to walk. But after the first medication he was able to walk around and he got stronger and stronger every day following his operation.

When I arrived, father and son were in the process of waiting for Ahmed’s surgery. Even though I could not speak Arabic, I adapted to relying on using hand motions and body language, and we had a great time together. I always played UNO and Mikado with Ahmed; he really loved this game. At first he had difficulty keeping his attention on the games because they were so many other children playing with us. He often just chose to sit in the background and observe the whole situation. Sometimes he required encouragement to join in and play. However, I experienced that if you had a one-on-one time with him, he lost his shyness and showed his real character.

The special thing was, that Ahmed never complained when he lost a game. He was the first child I have ever met who made excuses when he laid a +4 card (for those unfamiliar with UNO: that means, that you have to draw 4 cards, which is not good if you want to win the game). Every other child would have a big spite-ridden smile on their face, but he made a sad face and felt sympathy for you. The more I got to know him, the more his patient and polite character impressed me. It was not an easy time for father and son, because of the long wait for the surgery, but I never once heard a negative word from their mouths.

Ahmed and his father were one of a kind; you could say: “like father like son.” Both of them had a quiet and friendly character with good senses of humor. Especially the day before the surgery, Ahmed’s father’s deep feelings for his son were overwhelming. It was a moving moment, when they left Shevet Achim for the hospital that day: arm-in-arm and tearfully they went to the hospital, not knowing what is coming next. And triumphantly, arm-in-arm, they came back to Shevet Achim, but this time with big smiles on their faces. After the surgery, one could not only see their joy, one could hear it. They were phoning their family and friends and were laughing loudly with them.

Before the farewell party, all the men went to the beach and for the first time, and Ahmed was running as fast as he could. Unfortunately, I could not be there at this special moment, but I can only imagine it; he must have felt like a free bird, whose broken wings were healed and who was finally able to fly again.

It was such a joy to observe them in their final days here on Prophets Street. All the pressure and unknowingness were gone, and replaced with full relief and anticipation of their home.

We celebrated a wonderful farewell party and Abu Ahmed shared tears of joy with us; after two months of waiting and hoping they were finally able to fly back home. Their patience in this time was impressive and we are all thankful to get to know them.

May God continue to work in their hearts and may He bless their way.


Ahmed's Final Echo - Perfect!

Posted on Mon, 09/29/2014 - 23:33 by Konrad Wiedmer

This morning, Jesse, Dany, Courtney, Ahmed, his father and I set out for Wolfson Hospital. Our mission: Ahmed's last echo today; we all anticipated receiving good news. After a bit of German music in the car, Ahmed's father played us an Iraqi singer, who sung about Gaza, including a video. Then back to popular Christian worship music; it was a very multicultural music experience this morning!

When we arrived, we brought Ahmed and his daddy directly to the department where the echo takes places. I went to the children’s ward in order to collect the Ahmed’s folder while Jesse was searched for a parking place. Courtney went to see baby Ahmad, and Dany waited with the 9-year-old Ahmed in front of the echo room. When I came back, Ahmed seemed a bit tired, but then he suddenly got active and he tried to walk faster than he was used to walking because of his former weakness.

Suddenly his father appeared and said that it is time for the echo. Ahmed, his father, Dany and I went into the echo lab. We were all full of curiosity what the doctors would discover, and after a few minutes we heard an amazing statement concerning Ahmed’s heart condition: “Perfect!”

Followed by the Arabic word “hallas”, which means “finished”; father and son both smiled. His father was especially thankful to God, and we could see that this moment was very special for him as well as for us. He now only has to take medicine for one more month, and we are glad to declare that Ahmed is discharged completely out of Wolfson Hospital and can go home this week!

Let us all together praise our merciful God for this good news. The Lord opened the way for a smooth heeling of Ahmed’s heart and so let us all rejoice with Ahmed and his father. We are really grateful to God, because he is righteous and good, as Psalm 145, verse 7 says: “They shall utter the memory of your great goodness, and shall sing of your righteousness.”

Afterwards we went to the children’s ward to find baby Ahmad’s father in order to take him along on our ‘Shevet men’s beach trip’. Thankfully, Courtney was willing to take care of baby Ahmad in the meantime. What made us all laugh was the fact that Ahmed’s mood was improving because he realized more and more that his time in the hospital was finished, so he ran toward the exit without waiting. He and his father were smiling; I guess they were really looking forward to the beach.

When we first arrived, the weather was not good, with a lot of clouds overhead. But as we departed Wolfson, the clouds began to break. Immediately after we arrived at the beach, we took pictures of Ahmed and his father. As they walked towards the water, I had the opportunity to see another glimpse into the great love between the father son. They held each others’ hand the whole time, until they reached the place where we laid our things.

At first Ahmed was a bit scared of the water, and run away when there was a wave coming; but minute after minute, he lost his fear and was walking with his father and baby Ahmad’s father into the sea. He is such a lovely and sweet boy, who rarely smiles, but when he does it is extremely striking. Jesse built a sandcastle with the help of a few of us, and we tried to get a good photo jumping in front of it with much success. All in all we had a very special time, and I am thankful to see so much laughter and thanksgiving on this day. I pray to our God that they can keep the good memories of this day in their hearts forever.

The Home Stretch

Posted on Mon, 09/22/2014 - 19:35 by Natalie Sautter

It was a beautiful sunny morning when Ruth and I left Prophets Street to accompany Ahmed and his father to a second post-surgery echo today. Ahmed seemed to be very peaceful and confident while we were waiting together outside the echo lab.

Because it was my first echo I have witnessed up to now, it was very interesting for me to see how skillfully the echo technician examined Ahmed. Although the echo hardly took fifteen minutes, his father seemed relieved after it. Dr. Alona looked at the results and said his heart is healing very well, so his final echo will probably be next Monday! Both of them, Ahmed and his father are really looking forward to their return back home to Iraq. After a lunch break we visited baby Ahmad and his father in the children’s ward. It was a great joy to watch this sweet little smiling boy and his caring father. Ahmed also enjoyed the time, and we took pictures of him together with Malak, a girl who is staying in the same room with baby Ahmad.

It is great to see how the families are supporting each other during their hard times in hospital, although they are coming from different countries! Altogether we had a cheerful and blessed day at the hospital. Let us pray for endurance and patience for Ahmed and his father while they are waiting for their return home! May God, who means well for them carry them through their last days here in Israel, Amen!


Posted on Thu, 09/18/2014 - 22:38 by Kristina Kayser

There are times when I really wish I could speak fluent Arabic, and I have been having one of those times with our dear friend Ahmed in the house. I use the Arabic I know to communicate or joke with him, but it is considerably lacking. And even though he is not the talkative or extroverted type, I feel like he has a lot of important things to say, and I would be fascinated to hear those thoughts. Ahmed is such a gentle and perceptive young man with a subtle sense of humor and a shy nature that make him even more endearing. I love to see him smile, and I love the relationship he and his father share. They are truly "two peas in a pod." 

Today, I had the privilege of accompanying Ahmed and his father to Wolfson for a follow-up echo exam. Proudly flashing his newly fashioned yellow balloon sword, the three of us walked to the echo department.

When given the option of taking the elevator or the stairs, Ahmed quickly chose the stairs! I was so proud of him and impressed to witness his new found strength after surgery. Climbing stairs was virtually impossible for him with his heart defect. Without pause for rest, Ahmed continued to the exam room, where we waited for his turn. Praise God for these physical milestones! Dr. Alona performed a brief assessment with her trained eye and determined that Ahmed's heart is doing very well.

It is so well, in fact, that one medication was reduced, and it is likely that only two more echoes stand between him and going home to Iraq. The surgery to repair a Tetralogy of Fallot defect is holding strong. This was good news for Ahmed's father, who called his wife straight away to tell her their return is imminent.

Just before leaving Wolfson, Ahmed had three surgical sutures removed. Poor Ahmed cried big tears in dreadful anticipation, but in the end, he realized that he hardly felt it at all. His father's encouragement, followed by a fresh falafel sandwich put him in good spirits once again. Ahmed will have another echo next Monday, for which we hope will bring more good results! Until then, may the Lord continue to heal him day by day.

Welcome Home, Ahmed!

Posted on Sun, 09/14/2014 - 23:55 by Natalie Sautter

Kristina and I had the task of discharging Ahmed and his father from the hospital today and bringing them back to Prophets Street. Ahmed’s surgery was ten days ago; he has been recovering very well and was cleared to be released today.

We also took a girl from the West Bank and her father with us, who were also released from hospital. The discharge process was a joyful scene full of smiling faces! I really could see the feeling of relief on Ahmed’s father’s face. Through the shy smiling of Ahmed himself, you could see how proud he is of the gold medal he had been given for his successful recovery.

We are all glad to have Ahmed back, as he is such a lovely boy! In the next days he will have an echo, but he is doing very well so far. We can give thanks to the Lord for his caring hand guiding Ahmed and his father through the progress of surgery and recovery. He is good and does not stop taking care of his children. May Ahmed experience the heavenly fathers love for him personally!

On His Way to recovery

Posted on Tue, 09/09/2014 - 20:04 by Konrad Wiedmer

Today we visited our nine-year-old Ahmed, who had his heart operation last Thursday. It made us very happy when we recognized that he is in the children’s ward and not any longer in the ICU. Praise the Lord for that change! First of all, we saw his dad today outside, and as we said hello his huge smile caught my eye; I knew it could only mean that his son is doing really well. Then we went inside to see Ahmed and what we saw was a tired but good-looking Ahmed! A nurse examined Ahmed with his stethoscope, checking his functions and recovery, and verified that he was in fact quite well.

Our sweet Ahmed did not feel any pain during this procedure, and after the hospital staff was finished he showed us a big smile.

When we left, Ahmad was again very sleepy, lying in his bed next to his father. Please keep praying for more and more strength at every new day. We thank God that he has Ahmad in his powerful and mighty hands and cares for him every second.

First visit after surgery

Posted on Sun, 09/07/2014 - 20:37 by Natalie Sautter

Today we visited Ahmed and his father at Wolfson hospital in Tel Aviv. He had his surgery three days ago, so he was still in the ICU. When we entered the room, his father just stood right beside his bed, unable to take his eyes off of his beloved son.

We were told that Ahmed was extubated at about eleven o’clock this morning, just one hour before we arrived. Although he was still a little bit sleepy, Ahmed looked great! The nurses told us that he is doing really well; without any upcoming complications he may be released from hospital this Thursday or Friday. It was lovely to see how caring Ahmed’s father stood beside his son’s bed, carefully fondled his shoulder and cheek from time to time. When asked how he himself is doing, he answered: “As long as Ahmed is well, I am happy.” Praise God for such a loving father!

Please keep praying for Ahmed’s recovery, and thanks to the Lord for his uncomplicated surgery!

Ahmed’s Great Day!

Posted on Thu, 09/04/2014 - 20:32 by Konrad Wiedmer

After a long time of waiting and patience, the day for Ahmed’s surgery finally arrived! He and his father came from northern Iraq to Shevet Achim a month ago, so the father was quite relieved when he heard that the surgery would be soon. Kristina, the father of the other baby Ahmad from Syria, and I started today very early in the morning to drive to Wolfson Hospital in Tel Aviv. After a quick prayer for blessing for the day and the coming surgery, we rushed down, watching the sunrise, which was really beautiful. Praise the Lord for the marvelous landscape He created.

Around 7am, we arrived and immediately found a parking space. Baby Ahmad’s father was laughing when we got out of the car and saw that we were surrounded by a lot of wild cats, which was really funny and was a good start to the day. As we entered the ward, Ahmed from Iraq was still sleeping, and he looked quite sweet as he slept. We recognized that the father was not alone in this difficult time because he was in a room with two other Arabic speaking dads and their children. They welcomed us very warmly.

Then Ahmed was woken up to get ready to be taken to the operation room. The other fathers stood up immediately to say goodbye and to wish Ahmed and his father good luck. Ahmed was extremely calm the whole time, and he seemed to be tired. Getting into the preparation room, I expected a short waiting time, but instead of that, we had to wait for nearly an hour.

Then, finally, the nurses came to collect Ahmed, and his father said goodbye to his beloved son.

To pass the difficult time of waiting, we went to a falafel bar. Kristina and I had eaten breakfast only a few hours before, but because Ahmed’s father insisted on buying us both a meal, we had our lunch today at 10 o’clock in the morning. Surprisingly, the surgery was finished successfully after only four hours. We were told that the surgery was finished by Dr. Alona, who was walking towards us by accident. She also told us that we would have to wait about one hour before we could see Ahmed coming out of the operation room. Praise God that it was a full repair surgery with no complications! After the final hour of waiting had passed, we were walking towards the elevators in order to not miss the moment when Ahmed would come from the operation room. Then we suddenly saw him, and it was a great moment to see his father reaching the bed of his son.

Ahmed was brought to the ICU, and when the doors were closed behind him, Ahmed’s father opened his arms and hugged me, full of joy about his precious son and the completed surgery. He was crying for a few seconds, and Kristina and I were so thankful to be able to experience the wonderful emotions of this caring father. Before we left, we were allowed to enter the ICU, and Ahmad was looking great, thank God.

It was another wonderful day, full of a lot of good experiences given by God, who is in charge of everything. To describe this day with words is hard, but the words that would fit it the most are kindness, patience, and emotions. Please keep praying for a good healing process for our lovely nine-year-old Ahmed and for comfort and faith for his father, who is with his son over the weekend in the hospital.

Ahmed Admitted for Surgery

Posted on Wed, 09/03/2014 - 18:46 by Ruth Zellweger

The past weeks of waiting have been increasingly difficult for Ahmed, and especially for his father. On Monday this week we heard that Ahmed is tentatively on the surgery schedule for Thursday. However, today in the morning we received word from the hospital that we should not bring in Ahmed for admission, which was not easy news to accept for Ahmed's father, and his eyes showed discouragement.

In the early afternoon we got the good news from Dr. Alona that we should bring Ahmed for surgery tomorrow. We immediately told Abu Ahmed, who after a few moments of disbelief started to prepare for their imminent departure to the hospital. We gathered in our front courtyard to pray for precious Ahmed and his father, and then sent them off.

Ahmad is so much like his father, and as we entered the hospital, their love for each other was obvious. Please pray for the two of them, that the peace of God may fill and surround them. He has been faithful in their lives, and He will continue to be so.