Matti's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Matti Has Left the Building

Posted on Sun, 08/23/2015 - 21:43 by Loni Cords

Matti and his father were released from the arms of Shevet Achim this last Thursday, and returned eventually back into the arms of their family in Kurdistan. Andi and his mother returned to their home as well. All of us celebrated their time in Israel in a lovely, warm, rooftop party two nights before. 

The day before we had a bit of a scare just before a community member's farewell party, when a few Shevet Achim volunteers discovered that Matti had, quite literally, left the building on his own, seeking his father. We of course sent many of our members to search the streets of Jerusalem to find him. Nurse Alexa thankfully found him not far from Prophets Street accompanied by an off-duty police officer. Matti was immediately relieved to see someone he recognized and began to cry. It wasn't long before his father, who had gone to run a quick errand, joined all of them before they returned to the Shevet house.

All sorrowful tears were put aside, and soon it would be his own party.

Having people who speak multiple languages is extremely valuable here at Shevet Achim. I have found the occasions where many languages are represented, such as farewell-parties, to be very rich. It was a great joy for all of us to communicate to each other how we have all been impacted and edified by each other.

As we encouraged Matti's father and affirmed his visible faith in God, Matti himself looked up at his father with admiration. I hope that my faith will teach my own daughter in the way that this father has appeared to teach his son.

We have a family tradition here at Shevet Achim when we say farewell to a volunteer or a child. As our friends load into the car or van, we all grab a tissue and wave at them as they drive away. In the handful of occasions that I have done this, I have wondered what our neighbors might think about a somewhat larger group of people filing out of a door to wave with tissues. Upon further thought, it seems that a warm farewell, albeit goofy, such as this is only fitting for friends that have become part of our family. 

Matti and his father have become exactly this, and it has been a pleasure to be with and around them at such a time.

Good News for Matti!

Posted on Mon, 08/17/2015 - 23:48 by Madison Fry
Today was a very busy day for the Wolfson Echocardiogram Department! Five of our families, and three additional volunteers, flooded the waiting room this morning. Despite all of our anxiety and nerves before arriving at the hospital, our family was relieved to be together and sat in each other’s company all morning. 
According to the doctors, today during Matti's echo, they saw “a residual mild-moderate mitral regurgitation.” In layman’s terms, one of the valves in Matti’s heart is still leaking blood back into the heart. 
However, according to the Wolfson medical team, Matti is asymptomatic and can go home! This news was received with joy and thanksgiving. Abu Matti praised the Lord and immediately jumped on the phone to call relatives back home. 
Matti was switched to a stronger medication to be taken in a higher dose for the return journey home. Both Matti and his father were very excited to be done with hospital visits for now. 
Although his condition is something Matti will have to be aware of his entire life, the doctors have advised a follow up with a local pediatric cardiologist in Iraq. God willing, in 2-3 years Matti will be strong enough for a third and final surgery to repair the “mild regurgitation”.  
As for now, we are in awe of the Lord’s grace and mercy to this beloved child. It has been a long period of growth for Matti here at Shevet. He has been such a character of laughter and joy here and we are extremely blessed to be able to know him. We are also blessed to pray with and for our brothers in Messiah as they leave Jerusalem in the next two days. Thanks be to God!

Matti Takes Over the Echo Department

Posted on Mon, 08/10/2015 - 22:15 by Alexa Bigl

Matti’s wonderful personality took over the entire echo department today as his swagger brought him all around charming everyone there. He even had Rebekah carrying a plastic chair around for him.

Matti’s mitral valve is still in a very sensitive time for healing. We are praying that the stitches in his new patch will continue to hold. The doctors are nervous for this, and we would love for you to pray with us.

Overall, Matti’s echo was good today. He is a perfect patient and stays perfectly still for the doctors. He is running around the office right now bringing great joy and energy to our community. We are so thankful for this sweet boy!!

Matti Returns From Second Surgery

Posted on Thu, 08/06/2015 - 17:19 by Austin Cords
After his recovery from a second surgery, Matti was discharged today and ready to be back at the house. While we attended to other needs at the hospital, Matti had quite the day. I first found him at the vending machine mysteriously trying to buy some fruit juice with only 3 shekels. I lead him back to his father in the ward and his dad explained to him a little a bit about costs.
Matti stayed in the ward during the morning where he chased, talked to, mimicked, and followed a clown around. In the afternoon, he played with a toy car in the outdoor play area.
Once we arrived back home both Matti and his father were happy and Matti greeted others and the household pets. Many community members mentioned he looks even better than after the first surgery.The doctors mentioned that they do not think this second surgery was a complete repair so he may have to eventually go in for a third surgery. He should be going to have an echo next Monday to analyze further results.

Matti’s Second Surgery

Posted on Fri, 07/31/2015 - 11:49 by Emily Peck

Matti went in for his surgery on Thursday at 7am. The operation was done and he was in the ICU around 11:30am. The doctor said the surgery went well and that they were able to repair the patch to the AV valve. They are hopeful that this solution will be sufficient and that there won’t be more problems. However, there is still a possibility of the patch coming loose again and that they would have to put an artificial patch on. Please be praying that the repair will hold and that Matti will not have to undergo a third surgery.


Please be in prayer also for Matti’s father, that he would have peace from God. He is a strong man, but this has been very difficult for him and the worry, and exhaustion can be seen in his face. We lift them both up to the Father of all who holds them in His hand.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:6-7

In the Hot Seat

Posted on Wed, 07/29/2015 - 23:00 by Austin Cords

Imagine going from having the possibility of your child needing another heart surgery to having one scheduled for 15 hours away. Watching Matti's dad be strong for his son during this unimaginable scenario was not only difficult, but also inspirational. Being willing to stick it out in the hot seat to attempt the best for your child is a quality not easily attained. 

After a warm car ride to the hospital in which Matti got a little nap, we pretty quickly started the admittance process. As it began, Matti began to whimper, knowing the difficulties that were to come. Matti's father was there to attend to him and even used our other families currently at the hospital as a way to distract Matti and even offer words of encouragement to them.

The most difficult part of the admittance was getting the IV and blood drawn. They had to prick Matti five times in four different places. He cried and cried, yet he stayed courageous as he knew to stay still, not moving his arms which they were ascertaining for the IV.
He was then rewarded with a wafer and some apple juice and given an eating schedule.
The X-ray they took will be useful for his surgery tomorrow, to determine what must be done with more current detail.
May he and his family be able to rest tonight before the surgery, and still join us in prayer for his healing.

Matti's Heart Patch Reopening

Posted on Mon, 07/27/2015 - 21:09 by Jesse Tilman

Going for Matti's weekly echo today we were hoping for a better report on his mitral valve development. The day was bright and clear as we pulled out with two other families also in the van and two families already at the hospital. We committed the day to the Lord and asked for His Grace.

Matti was as full of energy as ever and a joy to play along with in off moments, though a tough case to get to comply sometimes when needed. His easy-going father made a point of helping out with things. It's been good just having them around the house.

Arriving to the Echo department, we got in line with quite a few families also waiting. The doctors were able to take us quickly though. As they worked through Matti's echo, it became apparent that something had changed. The mitral valve in question was barely mentioned, in place of it was a new discovery; the patch covering the AV canal inside his heart had some stitches come loose and now the heart is tending back towards its first state in letting oxygenated blood and deoxygenated blood mix together in the heart and be pumped to the rest of the body.

This is tough news to hear and carries with it some serious issues to face for the future. At this point the doctors would like to perform another echocardiogram on Thursday to see any further developments. Then, if this trend continues, they are considering a second surgery to reset the patch. The only good news I saw was that if they do go in again they also might be able to work on the mitral valve while redoing the patch.

Matti's father heard the news from the doctor and took it as best he could. Afterward, he sat down in the hallway seemingly bewildered. I went over the news with him as best as I could with my limited Arabic and connected with a hand over his shoulder. We sat and watched outwardly healthy Matti continue to bounce around the hall playing. After a while they were ready for some air and went downstairs to the playground area.

Father and son had a quiet lunch mostly by themselves off to the side as the rest of us ate together in the play area. Later, I went and sat on their bench when Matti got up again. The prospect of another surgery and more weeks of recovery is tough, but you can see the fortitude and love in Matti's father's eyes that will see the work through. We didn't get many pictures of Matti today, but here are some from recent days showing this vivacious boy.

Thank God for His care for each person. Psalm 4 speaks of this. Here is a selection:

". . . the Lord has set apart the godly for himself . . .

Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord! . . .

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;

for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."

Matti Continues to Improve After Operation

Posted on Tue, 07/21/2015 - 23:29 by Maureen Grimshaw
Matti had his first echocardiagram since his surgery and the doctors were very satisfied with his progress. It is still too early to see if he may need more surgical treatment for the Mitral Valve, but it seems that this may not need to be done. We pray that he will continue to improve. 
Matti continues to look well and very happy. His father was interviewed by a journalist from London, UK for the Jewish Chronicle. He expressed sincere appreciation for all that has been done for Matti. When asked what he felt about Israel since he was afraid to come in the beginning, he said he liked it very much and had no idea before coming here, that everyone would be so kind to him and his son.  
Matti and his father are interviewed for a story in the Jewish Chronicle
Matti and his father, alongside volunteer Ruth, meet a new friend back in Jerusalem

A Fast Return

Posted on Sun, 07/19/2015 - 21:17 by Konrad Wiedmer

Last Tuesday, Matti from Iraq had his surgery and already today he was allowed to come back to our home here at Shevet Achim in Jerusalem. When I saw him today at the hospital it was a very special moment because he saw me and then after a few moments he started running towards me. First of all, I was surprised that he was able to run and secondly, it was very sweet to see that he was happy to see someone he knows in the hospital. After a warm hug we waited until we could leave the hospital and both father and son were excited to leave the hospital.

When we entered the parking lot of Shevet, Ruth took some nice pictures of little Matti arriving.

We are so glad to have them back and we thank the Father in heaven that Matti’s recovery is progressing well. God has already done so much for this sweet boy from Iraq and we give Him the glory for Matti’s life.

Matti was Extubated!

Posted on Wed, 07/15/2015 - 21:40 by Anna Ivanova

Today we met our little Matti and his father in the ICU room. He was extubated and was doing really well. It was heartwarming to see how this boy reached for his fathers hand when he needed comfort.

We soon got the news that Matti was ready to be brought to the secondary ICU. Thank you so much for your prayers! Praise the Lord for His healing hand, and for His eternal love.