Hiba's Heart Surgery



Posted on Mon, 06/22/2015 - 01:11 by Ruth Zellweger

Little Hiba and her mother have left their imprints in my heart. Soon after their arrival in Israel I fell in love with that special little girl and her gentle, loving mother. The latter not only cared ceaselessly for her daughter, but also found countless ways to encourage and bless the other families and our staff. She also lived out her faith very genuinely. A beautiful woman inside and outside.

The day of Hiba's open heart surgery is deeply embedded in my memory. The hour before Hiba was taken into the operation room was one of the calmest and most peaceful I have ever experienced.

Hiba was sitting on her bed like a little angel, being totally at ease in that sterile environment. When she was wheeled away, she did not cry, as most children do. Her mother, however, started weeping as soon as she had lost sight of her daughter. The love a mother feels for her child is so pure and strong. We did not know then that this was the last time that we would see Hiba smiling and talking. 

During the following five weeks we spent many hours together in the hospital - waiting, crying, hoping, praying. My love and respect for the dedicated mother grew. One afternoon Kristina and I went to the nearby beach, to give the mother a break. We were joined by Workie, a wonderful nurse from Tanzania. For both of these women it was the first time at the beach.

This afternoon is one of the most precious moments I have experienced at Shevet. We were four women from four different countries, all at different stages of life. But there was one thing that had brought us together - the children entrusted into our care. 

There were small signs which caused us to hope that Hiba would recover well. But eventually, her heavenly Father called Hiba to be with Him.

When our little team came to Kurdistan a few weeks ago, we all had it on our heart to visit Hiba's family and express our condolences. Those visits are never easy, yet nevertheless very important. It gave especially Hiba's father the opportunity to voice his open questions and hurt. He and his family still struggle to grasp what had happened. It became very obvious to us that Hiba was the beloved little daughter and sister in that beautiful family. And now she was gone. 

Last week Sophie and I had the chance to visit Hiba's family again. Most of that time we spent with Hiba's mother and her two sisters, while the father and the brothers were otherwise engaged. We arrived in the afternoon. After half an hour Hiba's mother asked if were interested in going for a picnic. Of course we were.

She prepared some tea and snacks and we went to a nearby park were we soon were joined by many more women, who were mostly part of their extended family. I loved watching Hiba's mother engage in the conversations and seeing how once in a while she would smile and laugh. 

Sophie and I had the honor of spending time with Hiba's two sisters. The older sister is a quiet and beautiful young woman, who is studying to become an engineer.

Sima, the younger one, is a very funny and outgoing little girl. Throughout our time with them she posed for many pictures and constantly came up with new ideas for funny pictures.

From the outside it seems that both of them have processed Hiba's passing, but from experience we know that it usually takes more time. 

May Hiba's family experience the truth in Psalm 34:18 "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

In His Presence

Posted on Sat, 04/04/2015 - 21:25 by Kristina Kayser

Our precious Hiba passed from this life on Saturday morning at 10:13. After her difficult surgery on Thursday, she hung on for the next two days with critically low vital signs. And as the people of Israel gathered in their homes to celebrate the Passover, ICU doctors and nurses continued their diligent care of Hiba around the clock. Sophie and Ruth also stayed with Hiba and her mother through Friday night, often praying and singing at Hiba's bedside. Peace prevailed in the ICU and also with Hiba's mother, who was able to sleep for several hours. One doctor remarked how amazed he was by Hiba's strength, saying that he hadn't expected her to live so long based on her body's condition.

When the second support team arrived Saturday morning, none of us realized that Hiba had minutes to live. We were soon called in by the head ICU physician, Dr. Cohen, who told us that Hiba had died peacefully just five minutes earlier. He expressed how sorry they all were and that their team had done everything they could to save her. 

Hiba's mother began to weep as we followed her to her daughter's bedside. It was heartbreaking to be there in that moment. Sorrow filled the air, and yet the presence and peace of Messiah was tangible there as well. I believe it was because so many people around the world were praying for us. A long struggle had ended, and our dear Hiba was raised to life with Jesus. Several of us remembered how much she loved listening to worship songs. What a beautiful hope we have knowing that she is now rejoicing with the angels! 

As our community grapples with the passing of Hiba, we look to Messiah as the Resurrection and the Life. He is the One who came to bear our grief, and in all our sorrows, was born to be our Friend. Please continue to pray for Hiba's mother and her family who are bearing the weight of sorrow. Even in the midst of their sadness, they have expressed their deepest thanks to our community and to the staff at Wolfson. Please ask the Father to comfort them and reveal the love and power of His Son to them. Thank you so much for loving and supporting us and this family through your faithful prayers!    

The Gift Of Life

Posted on Thu, 04/02/2015 - 23:22 by Kristina Kayser

Sunlight filtered through storm clouds over Jerusalem as Sophie, Brian, Rebekah, and I began our early morning journey to Tel Aviv. We worshipped together, then prayed for God's healing and anointing over Hiba's surgery day. Wolfson was a quiet place when we first arrived, which gave us the perfect opportunity to open the Scriptures and ask the Lord to speak to us from His word. One verse that particularly struck me was Psalm 81:16. God says to Israel "with honey from the rock I would satisfy you." The idea of honey from a rock is physically impossible, but I believe this is an image of God doing the "impossible," of bringing sweetness and life out of adversity. In the same way, Hiba's situation appeared dismal, so I prayed that God would bring "honey from the rock" for Hiba and heal her!

Sophie and I were able to pray over Hiba in the ICU just before they wheeled her downstairs to the OR. Her mother clasped her daughter's hand as she whispered words of love and comfort. This brought a peaceful expression to Hiba's countenance. Around 8:30am, we escorted Hiba's gurney downstairs, where her mother stood and watched as her precious girl disappeared from view. Her eyes were wet with tears, but she made her way to an outside courtyard with an air of confidence. This was her daughter's third operation, and she was now the veteran. 

Hours passed. Hiba's mother spent much of her time outside speaking with family in Kurdistan, as well as other parents in the hospital. At one point, we had a large group gathered for a picnic in the sunshine, which did everyone some good. Times of quiet and rest were also sought out and benefited from. At one point, I told Hiba’s mother that this week, followers of Messiah would be celebrating His resurrection, and that because He is risen, we trust that nothing is too difficult for Him in Hiba's life.  

Then word came around 2pm that the surgery was finished!! Dr. Alona told us that the echo in the operating room looked good and that Hiba was off the bypass pump (heart & lung machine). This was welcome news indeed. She was quick to add that Hiba still has a long way to go and that bleeding in the OR was causing a delay from her transferring to the ICU. Close to five o'clock, we finally caught sight of the OR team wheeling Hiba's bed towards the ICU, and there was much rejoicing! 

By 6:30pm, Hiba's mother and I were invited into the ICU to speak directly with the surgeon, Dr. Sasson. Many doctors and nurses were working around Hiba's bed. Dr. Sasson began by saying that her leaking tricuspid valve had been repaired and was continuing to function. He continued by saying Hiba's situation is still very dangerous, with every hour being critical. She is currently combating an infection as well as internal bleeding, requiring her chest to remain open. "We haven't given up. We are fighting for her life," Dr. Sasson said. It was very clear how much he and the entire medical team care for Hiba. I tried my best to convey our deep gratitude for their devotion and sacrificial care for Hiba and the children. I told him how we have been praying for him and for a miracle for Hiba, to which he humbly nodded his thanks. I left the ICU with Dr. Hanita and Dr. Sasson stationed directly beside Hiba, their eyes fixed on her and her monitors.

Meanwhile, Hiba's mother had received Dr. Sasson's words well, taking in the severity of the situation, but praising God for the good news. Her daughter was alive! After several minutes, Hiba's mother told me she was ready to leave and wanted to rest. I was amazed at how well she was doing. Sophie and I stayed with her for a while longer, and were blessed to see her laughing and joking with Duaa's mother before we left. This day was holy and it persists to be, as we wait, and pray and look to Messiah for His resurrection power in Hiba! We, and Hiba’s mother, send our thanks and gratitude to all of you who are interceding for Hiba. To God be the glory! 

Urgent Prayer Needed for Hiba

Posted on Wed, 04/01/2015 - 22:39 by Kristina Kayser

First thing this morning, the ICU was buzzing with activity. Doctors were around Hiba's bed discussing in somber tones. Among them was the surgeon, Dr. Sasson, and chief cardiologist, Dr. Tamir. Dr. Sasson approached me and said that a third surgery is scheduled for Hiba tomorrow morning. He plans to repair her tricuspid valve and create a small opening between her upper two chambers in hopes of improving her current heart condition. Dr. Sasson is concerned about how Hiba will respond to surgery due to her body's fragile state. Just as he was telling me that he doesn't know if she will survive the operation, Dr. Tamir interrupted to say, "But they (Shevet Achim) pray a lot!"

I was struck by the power of this testimony. Praise God that Dr. Tamir recognizes that we are a community of faith who are seeking and trusting the Lord in the midst of bleak circumstances. 

Throughout the day, I had the privilege of laying my hands on Hiba and praying over her in the name of Messiah. As the day went by, my faith was strengthened in God's ability to work wonders. One of the songs I sang to Hiba today says, "Sick are healed and the dead are raised at the sound of Your great name! Jesus, worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us..."

As Passover and the time of Messiah's death and resurrection quickly approaches, may we find strength and hope in the truth of these words! Messiah is our Passover Lamb, and He is the God who conquered death on our behalf. What a sacred time for Hiba's surgery to take place.

Please intercede for Hiba as she heads into the operation room early Thursday morning. Also, please pray for her mother! She needs strength and peace that only the Lord can provide. Sophie, Brian, and I will be with her during Hiba's surgery tomorrow, so pray that we might be a tangible source of Messiah's love to her. May God's will be done, and may His name be glorified!

In The Battle

Posted on Sun, 03/29/2015 - 22:48 by Kristina Kayser

I entered Wolfson's ICU today with both hesitance and hopeful expectation. I found Hiba awake in bed, with her faithful mother sitting beside her. Hiba's brown eyes were wide open, so much so, that her face almost bore an expression of astonishment. I began speaking to her and singing some of her favorite songs. I felt like she recognized me and understood what I was saying. At one point, it looked as though she was trying desperately to say something. Her eyes even seemed to plead, "I'm here! I haven't given up!" Her mother would hold Hiba's hand, whisper gently to her, and then bow her head to cry. 

The general tone from the doctors today is that Hiba remains in a stable but critical position with many physical issues. Her tricuspid valve is still not functioning well and her body remains very swollen. Dr. Alona mentioned the possibility of surgery this week, and Dr. Tamir asked that we pray due to the difficult decision making process their team is facing.

Let's agree together to continue in this battle for Hiba's life. While doctors and nurses work around the clock in the midst of a physical battle, it is absolutely equally crucial that we engage in this battle through prayer and intercession. Wisdom, guidance, and healing from the Lord of heaven are needed! Hiba's life speaks to me of the longsuffering and divine nature of our God. Though we may struggle to understand His timing and the purpose of struggle in the midst of waiting and praying, He is never late and He is always faithful. May we press on in faith for the good plans God has for precious Hiba!  

Seeing God Move

Posted on Thu, 03/26/2015 - 15:32 by Kristi Brashear

I had the opportunity to go to Wolfson Hospital today to see Hiba!

I was greeted by one of the on call physicians with news that Hiba was doing better.  I found her mother sitting in a corner crying. The doctor suggested I take her out of the ICU so that she could rest. She is in a state of exhaustion, coupled with a lack of understanding on the condition of her daughter, and she feels something is wrong.

As we went into the waiting room, we ran into Dr. Alona. She said, “over the last two days Hiba’s condition has improved. She has turned a corner. However, Hiba is still in critical condition. The fluid around her heart is dissipating and the swelling in her limbs is lessening. We are pleased with the progress. We will start to extubate her over the next day or so, and then we will assess if we need to do a third surgery.” This is GREAT NEWS!

Please keep Hiba and her sweet mother in your prayers as she is still in critical condition, yet REJOICE with us for this wonderful report!

One Day at a Time

Posted on Sun, 03/22/2015 - 22:24 by Kristina Kayser

Our community, as well as people around the world, have been praying for Hiba, knowing that every day of life is a gift from God. Before visiting her in the ICU today, I had the chance to speak candidly with Dr. Alona about Hiba's current condition. She told me that Hiba's overall condition had slightly improved but is still critical. Her kidneys continue to be assisted through dialysis, and the tricuspid valve in her heart has recently begun to leak severely.  

Dr. Alona went on to say that Hiba may need a third surgery to repair her tricuspid valve as early as this week. She was hopeful that this repair could bring marked improvement. The doctors were to meet later this afternoon to discuss their plan of action for surgery as well as when to attempt extubating Hiba again. 

Hiba's mother was quite calm today and did not seem overwhelmed or anxious when I discussed the chance of another surgery with her. She listened carefully, as did her eldest son in Kurdistan, whom I spoke with over the phone. I've come to appreciate this family more and more for how well they love and care for each other. Relatives from Holland flew in for one week to offer their support, and this week, another uncle is due to arrive to continue that support. As we trust Messiah for Hiba's life, may we continue to love and encourage this family through His Spirit and by His grace. We have nothing to offer in and of ourselves, but in Messiah, we have more then we could ever hope for! 

More Prayer

Posted on Thu, 03/19/2015 - 22:51 by Kristi Brashear

Prayer warriors, please continue to lift up Hiba and her mother in prayer! 

Her condition is critical.  She had to be reintubated last night and her heart is struggling, which has resulted in kidney failure.  The doctors will determine if she should undergo another surgery in the near future.

Her mother is heartbroken and has been standing next to her bed for hours, rarely taking time to care for her own needs. 

Please join us in prayer for this precious family.


Posted on Wed, 03/18/2015 - 21:22 by Ruth Zellweger

I met Hiba's mother today in the children's ward and she looked the calmest and most peaceful I have seen her in weeks. Her hopes were high because the doctors and nurses in the ICU wanted to try again to take Hiba off the mechanical ventilation system. After she was finished with lunch and praying, we went together to the ICU, but only she was allowed in. My chance came half an hour later. I peeked in the ICU and saw Hiba's mother sitting on her daughter's bedside. Hiba was awake and breathing on her own! I joined them and, together with her mother, we praised God for His goodness and mercy towards precious Hiba. She is currently stable, but still in need of a lot of medical attention and treatment. Our Shevet family is rejoicing and so thankful for everyone who is interceding for Hiba and our other children.

Above is a video of Hiba and her mother in the ICU. You can see she is awake and moving!

We Cry Out for Hiba

Posted on Sun, 03/15/2015 - 22:28 by Rebekah Yang

Jesse and I came to Wolfson hospital just before noon time, and right away, I saw Hiba’s mum and Duaa’s mum were sitting outside the ICU waiting. At that moment, I strongly felt I had to embrace Hiba’s mum and say no words. Later on, I went with Hiba's mum to the ICU and saw all the doctors and nurses were busy with Hiba and not able to provide any further update on her, so we left the ICU and waited again. Hiba's mum decided to go to children's ward to pray for Hiba, so we went there together.

Later, Jesse and I again went to the ICU to find out what had happened to Hiba.

We learned from Hiba’s primary nurse that Hiba had had a difficult moment and had been fighting for her life in the morning. According to the nurse, this morning the doctor had extubated Hiba for a little period of time, only to find Hiba’s blood pressure and oxygen level both dropping to a very low level. It shows Hiba‘s lungs were not able to function well and could not help her to sustain her own breathing system now. Due to this, the doctor re-intubated her around 11am.

As Jesse translated to Kurdish for Hiba's mom, I saw tears were dropping from her eyes; she was longing to get any sense of hope.

I hold Hiba and her mum tenderly. Jesse, Hiba's mother, and I cry out to our Lord as the psalmist did in Psalm 46:1 -- “God, be Hiba’s refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”