Arin's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Up and Running

Posted on Mon, 05/25/2015 - 13:51 by Sophie

When we first arrived at Arin’s house, he was fast asleep. However, soon after he awoke and just stared at Ruth and Konrad, and then began to laugh. His bright smile immediately touched me. For almost half an hour he was running around, laughing continuously. Just a few months ago he left our Shevet family in Jerusalem, and now he is old enough to walk and run.

He was eager to help his mother clean the house, and you can see how serious he was about it in the picture below. He really enjoyed cleaning by himself.

Arin’s mother told us that two things are currently troubling her. The first is that when she returned from Israel with Arin, he soon developed several chest infections. His mother is very worried about this. She is also worried about her husband who works for the Kurdish fighting force, the Peshmerga. He will soon be going to some dangerous places. Please keep praying for Arin and his family. May God give them true peace and protection. 

Farewell Arin!

Posted on Sun, 02/08/2015 - 20:13 by Kyle Carlson

Almost exactly two months ago, a joyful and smiling boy entered our lives. Arin traveled to Shevet Achim for treatment of his heart condition called, “Tetralogy of Fallot.” He needed surgery to correct this defect for his precious life to continue. It was our pleasure to welcome him to Jerusalem and begin the process to start treatment for his heart.

It is always interesting to me when families arrive for the first time. We have seen their pictures, heard about their heart conditions, and learned about their situation, but we have no way of knowing their personality. Every child we serve at Shevet Achim has a unique personality. Arin was no exception to this. He brought so much joy to the community. I had the privilege of joining Arin for his first visit to the hospital. Here, I really learned how much personality this little boy had. I think back to our picnic at the hospital that day while we waited for his appointment to begin. He started to bounce, smile, clap and laugh in the way he soon became known for. He is an active little boy, who was curious about everything. Over the course of two months, he had many important moments and affected many lives here. This is a video documenting some of the most monumental occasions he had while with us in Israel.

As you can observe, Arin was special to many volunteers here at Shevet Achim. His smile is unforgettable, and he always made you feel special. He will be very missed by everyone here, and I will especially miss seeing him. Every time I walked upstairs, he was there to return my smile. I will always remember how he would routinely crawl towards me whenever I sat down near him. It is amazing how strong he has grown since his surgery. His energy and curiosity only increased with every day that passed. He now looks very healthy and strong. God did an amazing thing in his life, and I believe God has big plans for Arin and his family. The Lord does not waste anything; He uses everything. I know Arin will forever hold a place in my heart, and I look forward to witnessing what the Lord does in his life. While saying goodbye to families is always a bitter-sweet moment, I am so thankful that this young boy can now grow into the strong man God has created him to be.

Arin's Final Echo

Posted on Fri, 02/06/2015 - 15:27 by Kristina Kayser

Yesterday Arin had his final echo at Wolfson hospital. He received amazing results and was discharged that day. Above is a video blog documenting the entire day. 

Arin’s Penultimate Echo

Posted on Mon, 02/02/2015 - 20:50 by Kristina Kayser

It was a quiet drive to Tel Aviv today with Brian as co-pilot and Arin and his mother our special passengers, but anticipation was building ever so subtly. Arin has been inching towards the finish line for his medical treatment in Israel, with his mother desperately hoping for an expedited recovery. Praise God, the last few weeks have only seen steady improvement and increasing strength on Arin's part. He daily delights us with his progress in learning the delicate art of walking. How much it reminds me of our journey in walking with God. We may falter and even stumble again and again, but our heavenly Father is faithfully dusting us off and cheering us on. 

Our crew had a very short time of waiting at Wolfson, but Arin used it to walk all over the foyer using a small plastic chair for support. Here's a glimpse of his joy in the process. 

We were then welcomed into the echo room, whereby Arin promptly burst into tears. His mother tried to cajole him with a bag full of sweets, and the doctor attempted to distract him with a children's video, but our little guy was not to be appeased. Regardless, the echo exam was completed in record time with wonderful results! Arin's heart is functioning properly without any complications, permitting Dr. Alona to discontinue yet another medication. But the best news of the day is that Arin's final echo is now set for this Thursday, instead of next week. If all goes well, he and his mother will be able to travel together with Arena and her mother this Friday. 

Arin's mother was so jubilant and relieved, and her joy spilled over to all of us. In congruence with the good news we received, a short detour to the seaside was made on our way home. Mother and son relished the sunshine, salty air, and blue waves! This was their third beach trip in Israel, and it has been so beautiful to witness and join in their bliss each time. Praise God for His love for them, a love that spans the heights of heaven and the depths of the sea! 

A Mother's Touch

Posted on Mon, 01/26/2015 - 20:11 by Lindsay Martin

Today was Arin's first echocardiogram since his heart surgery two weeks ago. It was a joy-filled trip to the hospital, and we hoped for good news for little Arin. We arrived while the doctor was at lunch, so we had to wait a bit before we could go in for the echo. Arin enjoyed pushing anything and everything around the room and down the hallways. At one point, he was pushing two little plastic chairs around, one for each hand.

When the doctor arrived, we went into the room and prepared Arin for the echo. He immediately became upset, thinking his mother would leave him. But there is something to be said about a mother's touch. As he was lying there during the echo, she gently laid down next to him and rubbed her face against his. Even that simple act was enough to assure him that she would stay with him. His cries turned to whimpers and soon the echo was over!

It was a great report from the doctor, the echo showed that there are no excess fluids in his heart and lungs. Praise the Lord! They would like to do two more echoes before releasing Arin to go back home. If all goes well, we will be saying farewell to Arin and his mother in three weeks.

Please continue to pray with us for Arin's healing, peace for his mother as she waits to go home, and opportunities for us to share the great news of our loving Father.

As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you. Isaiah 66:13

Proud Scars

Posted on Tue, 01/20/2015 - 22:07 by Sarah Powell

When I first saw Arin and his mom in the hospital today, I received a sweet welcome. Arin's mother saw me from down the hallway and cheerfully called to me, and Arin had his perpetually bright smile reaching from one ear to the other.

While we waited for Arin's discharge, we ate biscuits and threw pretzels, balanced plates on our heads, shared hats, sang songs, and – of course – giggled together. When his mom took off his hospital clothes to put him in his normal clothes in preparation for our departure, Arin beat his bare chest, triumphantly displaying the scar from his surgery. It is definitely a scar to be proud of.

Arin and his mother were very glad to return to our home in Jerusalem this evening, and we were very excited to have them back as well. When his mother came downstairs with him to see if any of us would be able to cut his hair, Arin was paraded through the offices so that everyone could greet him and try to get him to laugh by singing his favorite songs. We are glad that his fever left so quickly and that it was not a big problem. Please pray with us that the rest of his recovery will go smoothly.

Arin's Ups & Downs

Posted on Sun, 01/18/2015 - 22:16 by Kyle Carlson

Marilyn and Brian drove to Wolfson Hospital this past Thursday to collect Arin and his mum and return them to Prophets Street. It seemed almost appropriate that as the two U.K. representatives at Shevet, we should be deluged with good English rain on most of the journey. However, Father was looking upon us all very favorably, as there was a short respite when we loaded this lovely little boy and his mum into our van. They had been waiting a long time for their discharge, but were soon back here to a big welcome from Shevet volunteers and their friends from Kurdistan.

Unfortunately, yesterday afternoon, Arin began to get a fever. Around 4:30 pm he reached a temperature that required an emergency visit to Wolfson Hospital. This was unfortunate news to everyone, but especially to his mother who had just spent many nights in the hospital and was very concerned for Arin’s health. We had a time of prayer, then loaded up in the car and left for the hospital.

Arin seemed to be acting just fine. He was his usual blend of happy and smiling, then an instant later, he would be crying for his mom, then the inverse would happen, just as quickly. Once the doctor had a chance to run some tests, they found that his fever had slightly lessened, and they did not think it was connected to his heart. However, they kept him overnight so they could perform an echo on him this morning. From that echo they determined that the fever was viral, and not connected to the heart or any fluid build up around it. This was welcome news for all at Shevet, and particularly Arin’s mother. We trust that the fever will continue to subside and Arin will continue to grow in strength!

The Perfect Gift

Posted on Wed, 01/14/2015 - 20:27 by Kristina Kayser

The Scriptures say that "every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights." And when I consider this promise, my thoughts easily turn towards Arin, who celebrated his first birthday today. This small boy, so precious in the eyes God, was truly given the perfect gift for this new year of life--a healed heart. 

It has now been six days since that gift was given through open heart surgery, and I was so looking forward to seeing my little friend. Kyle and my mother, Janice, also shared these sentiments as we all made our way to Tel Aviv this morning. Upon arrival, we learned that Arin had spiked a high fever earlier and had been quite uncomfortable and irritable for many hours. His mother looked worn and anxious; that is, until we started singing "Happy Birthday To You," to her son. Almost instantly, mother and son began to smile while listening to the song. The singing continued with a few of Arin's favorites, including "Xudaim Gowraye" and "Papula." He bounced and clapped and shook his head back and forth to the melodies. "Today is your special day, Arin!" I told him. "Congratulations!"

We continued our celebration with a rainbow cupcake, which was promptly thrown to the floor. Arin seemed to think it was a ball, rather than an edible treat. A pink balloon, bubbles, and our silly antics were more amusing to him than anything. He giggled and smiled every time Kyle, my mom or I would make a funny face or talk to him.  

His mother began to cry and told us it had been a difficult night. Arin cried most of the time, with nothing to soothe him. She also shared her constant fear that a new problem will arise with Arin's heart and that he will need another surgery. Despite the doctors successfully completing a full repair, she is anxious for the future and the unknown. I gently responded with Jesus' instruction not to worry about tomorrow because our Heavenly Father knows what we need. Instead, we can trust Him day by day. And today, especially, we could be thankful and rejoice in Arin's life. She took heart in this and we rejoined the others in playing with Arin. 

Medically speaking, Arin's fever is being treated with antibiotics and a fever-reducer. The doctors are not concerned and have already seen an improvement since this morning. It is our hope that Arin will be able to return home as soon as his temperature stabilizes. So for now, treatment will continue at Wolfson, and we hope to have both mother and son with us in Jerusalem soon.

Our day ended with a nice walk around the hospital in a stroller we brought from home. Arin absolutely loves going outside, and he was so happy to leave the ward and go exploring! I see God's grace so clearly in Arin's life. I see it in his joyful smile and his fearless, adventurous personality. I see it in his physical well being and strength as he recovers from surgery, and I see it in the love of his mother for her son. My prayer for Arin today is that he grows up to know and love God and that his heart beats for the One who made him and loves him inexpressibly.  

A Little Fighter

Posted on Thu, 01/08/2015 - 22:19 by Ruth Zellweger

Little Arin underwent his open heart surgery two days ago and was already transferred to the children's ward by the time Marilyn and I arrived at Wolfson Hospital today. His young mother looked tired. She cares for her son with much love. Arin was not his old self yet. His face was puffy, which comes from fluid in his tissue.

He is being treated with special medications that help get rid of that extra fluid. In the meantime, Arin is sleeping a lot. He feels most comfortable in his mothers arms.

Our lives are truly blessed by knowing Arin, who will turn one year old this coming Sunday. May he soon be well enough to return to our home in Jerusalem. We miss his joyful and energetic personality. Thank you for your continued prayers for this precious young boy.

A Strong Young Boy

Posted on Wed, 01/07/2015 - 22:00 by Ruth Zellweger

Arin's heart surgery was one of the earliest and quickest I have ever seen in my time with Shevet. Within four hours his heart was repaired and he was back in ICU. I was curious how I would find him today during my visit at Wolfson Hospital; despite the fact that I had arrived early in the morning, I did not get to see him until late afternoon. When I entered the ICU, I found him asleep. Both his mother and his nurse told me how he would pull and tear on everything that he could reach, including his central i.v. line; because of this they had to fixate his hands to prevent him from harming himself.

His mother was very tired and exhausted, but on the other hand very happy that the surgery had gone so well. Arin will celebrate his first birthday this coming Monday, and thanks to God, it will be with a healed heart. To Him be the glory!