Ayman's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

The Peace of God

Posted on Tue, 06/02/2015 - 14:07 by Konrad Wiedmer

During our stay in Kurdistan, we planned to visit baby Ayman's family for a sleepover at their house. Even as we arrived from a distance, we could see Ayman's father with his oldest daughter, standing outside their house waiting for us. Back in Jerusalem, I had told Ayman's father how much I would love to see Ayman and him again, and last week, that day had come already. How good it was to see him again, reunited with his family. When we entered the house, I noticed how beautiful it looked inside. Of course, I couldn’t wait to see little Ayman, and when I saw him, I could only thank God for this laughing little boy. He was as cute as always, reacting to my laugh as you can see in this picture.

Jonathan, Ruth, Sophie, and I were so blessed to encounter the whole family, including Ayman's two older sisters. Looking at the oldest sister, I realized that Ayman looks so much like her, and it was just such a beautiful picture seeing her interacting with her little brother.

Also in this home, we experienced the great hospitality of the Kurdish people and had a nice meal with the family. It was a big tray of Dolma, a delicious traditional dish of rice-stuffed vegetables. It was so delicious that Jonathan even mentioned it might be the best Dolma he has ever eaten!

Ayman was joyful and all of us were really happy to be with him and his family on that day.

Because we knew several other families in the city, we tried to figure out a plan for how to visit as many as possible. Ayman's father was a great help in getting those plans set, as he translated from Arabic to Kurdish for us. Also, he went with us to many of the visits because he contacted the fathers of those families. He knew his way around the city and villages, and we were truly blessed having him as a helper. It came to my mind that he took on many roles on that day. He was a translator, a guide, and also a good friend.

Also, he said before we left from his house that his brother-in-law has a car, but he does not like to drive. So I ended up driving in Kurdistan. How crazy!

I am sure he offered it as well to bless me because he knew I like driving in general. It was a real adventure for me to drive on the streets there since the traffic is even more confusing than in Israel. In the end, I was driving most of the afternoon, and I was glad to have that experience.

When we returned Ayman's house, we had a restful night, and in the morning, we had an amazing breakfast. Also, we got to know Ayman's grandmother, who sewed the beautiful dresses of Ayman's sisters, as well as Ayman's brown outfit.

The plan then was to visit more families again our second day, so we had to say goodbye to sweet Ayman and the rest of the family.

We really enjoyed our time there, and I am so grateful that I could see this little boy again. I was with him in the operating room when he had his open heart surgery, so I really had it on my heart to see him again with a healed heart at his home in Kurdistan. Also, I thank the Lord for being able to communicate with Ayman's dad in English. This was very special for me because most of the time I can't talk to the fathers and can't say what I really want to say. But during this visit, I had many opportunities to talk with this father, who is definitely a good friend of mine! Even now, after I visited them, I hope to see them again at some point in my life.

Before we left we could already tell that little Ayman was tired. This picture proves it:

When the final time for us to leave had come, Ayman was already asleep, and I asked to take one last picture of him. He was lying in his child's bed and looked so peaceful. He was even smiling, which was one of the cutest things I have ever seen.

When I think about him in that small bed, sleeping so peacefully, I have to think about God’s peace as it is described in the New Testament in Philippians 4: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  

May this peace stay in Ayman's home, as well as in all the homes we have visited during our time in Kurdistan.

Ma’salame Habibi Ayman!

Posted on Sun, 05/17/2015 - 21:04 by Rebekah Yang

On the day we had to say goodbye to our sweet Ayman, we all came out to wave our farewell with hearts that were half cheering and half breaking. It’s time for me to send my best wishes with tears to Ayman, “Ma’salame habibi!” (Goodbye my dear!). Just like a computer, my memory starts to search back to the beginning of Ayman's time with us when he and his father just arrived at our home in Jerusalem.

It was mid-March, and the weather could sometimes be a bit chilly. However, none of us were expecting to see a little snowman show up every day. Ayman was always dressed in so many layers that he indeed looked like a chunky little snowman.

I found out how thoughtful Nizar was through this situation. After a few days of observation, I decided to break through my question marks and approach Nizar to ask why he always put so many clothes on Ayman.

“I do not want Ayman to get any cold that would affect his surgery,” was his simple reply.

Wow! I was amazed by a father that would think that far ahead for the sake of his son’s health. Because of this, I respected Nizar from the beginning and did not want to interfere with his methods.

Duaa’s mum (whose daughter was also here for surgery) could not stand watching Ayman stuffed inside all of those clothes for very long, though. I remember, one afternoon, Duaa’s mum had a good chat with Nizar for quite some time. Afterward, our snowman suddenly disappeared – that very same day. That was a great opportunity for me to observe the art of communication in the Middle East.

As days passed by without Ayman’s heart surgery being scheduled, Nizar became stressed and anxious due to his tight schedule at the school he’s teaching at in Iraq. As a Shevet community, we could only pray for God’s favor that Ayman’s operation date would come soon. We also tried to step in to spend more time with Ayman and try to release some of his father's pressure.

After Ayman had an eye checkup at Wolfson hospital in Tel-Aviv one day, God provided a short but meaningful time for Ayman and his father to go for their first beach trip.

That seemed to be a refreshing time for Ayman's father; praise God for that.

Soon after, Ayman had his big day – operation day.

He recovered rapidly and had renewed strength. Every day afterward, it looked like he was growing bigger, and he loved giggling at everyone who would hold him. His father is also so proud of him and liked to say, “No one will be like Ayman.” Yes! He is indeed our sweet heart and such an adorable, handsome child.

Ayman’s farewell “hafle” (party) was another highlight for all of our Shevet family members here. Nizar kindly performed his traditional Kurdish dance with Jesse and taught us how to dance too, giving us a taste of some traditional Kurdish customs. All of us were so cheerful as we enjoyed this fun new experience together. When I was jumping sort of like a little child with the whole group as we danced, a bible verse came to my mind: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

As I recall the past two months, I notice that not only Ayman’s physical heart was healed by the medical care he received here, but his father's heart also began to be changed by God's grace. Although they went back to Kurdistan in northern Iraq for good, new lives, I will always remember them both fondly. Let us continue praying for this father and son.

“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 prosperity.” ( Proverbs 3:1-2)


A Praiseworthy Report

Posted on Mon, 05/11/2015 - 19:38 by Whitney Hammond

After Ayman's final Echo, the doctor said that there is no fluid left and they are confident that Ayman can go home! He is recovering very well and is a happy and healthy boy. His father is very relieved and ready to go home! Indeed, praise be to God, we are all so thankful that they can rejoin their family soon.

Calm & Happy

Posted on Tue, 05/05/2015 - 16:10 by Whitney Hammond

Yesterday was Ayman’s second to last echo. He was so calm and happy the whole time. The day was beautiful and he enjoyed the sunshine during the drive to the hospital. Praise God that he was so patient during a very successful echo!

Ayman's medication will not change and he should be able to return home next week after his final echo on Monday. His father is very pleased and we are all celebrating this news!

Continued Progress

Posted on Mon, 04/27/2015 - 22:43 by Jesse Tilman

Ayman's echo went as planned today, and even though his father was nervous, Ayman is healthy as ever. He even had a medication reduced this week. Our other father on base is soon heading back to Kurdistan, and I could tell the travel bug was rubbing off on Ayman's Dad. He is slated for a few more echoes though, and will be returning next Monday if all goes as planned. Thank God for a good day!

Ayman Discharged

Posted on Mon, 04/20/2015 - 19:54 by Brian Mace

After some time spent working on a shower head, it was a welcome change and joy to be able to travel to Wolfson hospital to collect Ayman, who had been discharged today. However, I was not reckoning on the extreme traffic, which took nearly two hours to cover an hour's journey to the hospital.

Ayman and his dad had been waiting a long time, but Little Ayman was in good spirits and seemed to enjoy the (much quicker) journey back to base.

In the Children's Ward!

Posted on Sun, 04/19/2015 - 21:23 by Camilla Madsen

Today, Kristina and I went to the Wolfson Medical Center in Tel Aviv. There we visited Ayman and his father.

Today was four days since Ayman got his surgery, and he is doing very well. He is now in the children’s ward, and this morning, he got his chest tube removed.

Furthermore, he got an echo this morning, which looked good, and it seems like Ayman is recovering so fast. Everything is well; he is starting to move around; and his smile in his eyes is amazing.

Ayman’s father is such a loving and careful father. Unusually, Ayman’s father told Kristina and I that he would prefer to stay at the hospital rather than going back to Jerusalem because he would like to make sure that Ayman is close to a doctor. It is an honor to witness his caring protectiveness towards his son.

Join us in praying for Ayman and his further recovery, for patience for his dad, and for wisdom for the doctors. 

Ayman's Surgery Day

Posted on Thu, 04/16/2015 - 22:20 by Co-authored

By Konrad Wiedmer and Kyle Carlson

Yesterday Ayman had surgery to correct his life threatening heart defect. Konrad and I were privileged to be there for this very special, and life changing day. Ayman had a successful surgery, and he will not need any additional surgeries. It was a joy to see the countenance of Ayman’s father change, and a burden lifted from his shoulders. Praise the Lord for another successful surgery!

We put together a special video blog that contains footage from inside the operating room. Konrad had the opportunity to observe the surgery in person and was able to capture a unique perspective.

Today, Brian and Rebekah were able to visit Ayman in the hospital and recorded their thoughts from the day:

Rebeka and I were blessed to be able to visit Ayman in ICU at Wolfson Hospital. His dad told us that he was extubated this morning, and we could see that he was doing well. It was confirmed that he is OK and stable.

His dad seemed pleased and settled with his little son's situation, and that we had been able to visit today.

Healthy Heart

Posted on Wed, 04/15/2015 - 21:00 by Kyle Carlson

Ayman had surgery today to repair his heart defect called Tetralogoy of Fallot. They made the necessary repair and checked the rest of his heart. The surgery went very well, and the cardiologist team was very satisfied with the results. Their prognosis is that Ayman will not need a second surgery, as is sometimes common with TOF defects, and will grow just fine. We are creating a video blog about this very special day, which will be available tomorrow.

Ayman Admitted

Posted on Tue, 04/14/2015 - 22:07 by Brian Mace

Aad and I were driving for the Gaza Clinic today, and we took Ayman with us for his admission to Wolfson Hospital for his planned surgery tomorrow. It was a long journey for him, but he was very good the whole time. Before we left, there was a Shevet send off through prayer in our courtyard, and on the sidewalk as we drove out of our car park. He was admitted very quickly by the Children’s ward, and soon settled down in his new bed.