Aveen's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Defining "Shevet Achim"

Posted on Wed, 05/17/2017 - 23:30 by Alexa Bigl

We waved Aveen and her father off last night. Of course, we tried a few tactics to try to convince them to stay first. They played along and said, "ok" they would stay. Aveen could take over family care for the children and her father would be in charge of helping all the parents. As the time approached for their departure, however, we brought their bags out to the car. It's a difficult reality because Aveen and her father have their family and life back in Kurdistan. And we are overflowed with joy in knowing their family can be reunited, once again. But truly, our Shevet family has been broken up with their departure. We can look up to heaven and pour out our thanks to the Lord for the opportunity to have Aveen and her father with us for this second time. The Lord unifies us and has taught us about His love and sovereignty through this family. Lord willing, as we remain in close contact with this family, we pray for continued growth in relationship. We pray for hearts opened to the Word of God. And we pray Aveen's broken, healed, re-broken, and re-healed heart will continue to be the doorway for these things.  

After Monday's final echo, we prepared for a farewell party for Aveen. She was booked on the flight for Tuesday night to fly home alongside Marwan and his mother. While the double farewell meant twice the sorrow in saying goodbye, it was also a double portion of joy in two children with healed hearts able to return home. And the farewell celebration reflected this joy in every way. From a beautiful meal...
...to singing songs of praise to God together, from a time of sharing words of love with these families, to the giving of gifts, and lastly the photo-DVD to top it all off. Aveen's beaming smile blessed all of us.
The group of Shevet volunteers shared with Aveen and her father our appreciation of their beautiful, sweet spirits, their joy, their investment into Shevet, and their helping hands. Despite many trials and a long journey with many tears, the joy of this father and daughter will not be forgotten. Having the chance to share a final meal and time of worship with them was a blessing and a memory I will treasure forever. As we wrapped up the evening of festivities, we were happy to know we would have the next day for final goodbyes before their evening flight. 
Tuesday morning, there was one last trial to overcome. Dr. Tamir called saying there were still a couple of concerns they had just become aware of for Aveen. She needed to return to Wolfson for an ECG and one last blood test. Seeing Aveen's father's shocked face as I passed on the information was difficult enough, but seeing Aveen's reaction was heartbreaking. Unsure if the news would delay travel combined with having to return to Wolfson, again, for more tests was too much for this 17-year-old girl to handle. She broke down in hysterical tears and refused to leave the house for a time. Her father remained strong and we got them loaded into the van after some time. We were all a bit stunned with all that was happening and knew we needed to lift it all up to the Lord. The tests took quite some time to perform, but we eventually got the word all was good and Aveen and her father could travel as scheduled. When they returned back to the house, we were all so happy to see them both smiling, once again. And too soon, the time came for them to depart to the airport.
We waved them off as we called down prayer for them. The Lord is good and mighty and we thank Him for these past eleven weeks with Aveen and her father. 

To Kurdistan

Posted on Mon, 05/15/2017 - 17:57 by Alexa Bigl

Yesterday we learned Aveen's test results related to the lesion on her spine were good. Her bone is not degrading and the doctors are no longer worried about the region from her scan. So, that means all she was waiting for to return home to Kurdistan was a final echo. And she received it this morning.

As Dr. Sagi checked over the recorded pictures, he said, "basha, basha, basha" (good, good, good).

Aveen and her dad, once faced with the reality of leaving Shevet, were quick to tell the doctor it was ok for them to have to stay another week. It was so sweet. We love this father and daughter so much, and this was an insight to the sharing of that love. 

Aveen needed one last blood test to check her hemoglobin levels after the echo. Poor Aveen experienced some pain as the nurse stuck her with the needle, but it was soon over.
And we said goodbye to Wolfson; hopefully for the final time for Aveen and her father. 
Aveen will be traveling home with Marwan tomorrow night. She and her father have blessed our community in so many incredible ways. I cannot even begin to imagine what it will be like in the coming days and weeks without them.
Our community will need prayer as we adjust to life once they are back home. But the Lord is Provider and we will lean into Him.

Worth the Wait

Posted on Mon, 05/08/2017 - 20:36 by Rebekah Yang

This morning Debbie and I brought Aveen and her father for Aveen's post-surgery echo follow-up.

Upon our arrival, there were a few kids from SACH already in line waiting for their turn in the echo room. Our sweet Aveen cheerfully spent some time having fun with us while we waited for Aveen's turn. However, we ended up waiting quite a long time, and Aveen began to feel less happy as she started playing with her mobile game on her phone. I could tell she was trying to be patient through the long time of waiting.
After almost one and a half hour later, she was finally called for her turn to have an echo. It took the echo doctor another half an hour in order to finish her exam. When we thought it was done, and wanted to get the echo results, then we were told that we needed to wait for Dr. Alona's reviewing. 
At 1:30pm, Dr. Alona came over and gave Aveen a good news. She was pleased with Aveen's echo results, and gave Aveen a green light to return to her normal diet. What's more, she made a statement that next Monday will be her final echo before she returns home to Kurdistan. Wow! It is indeed worthy to wait for these precious words. Praise God!
Later on, we had some food in the hospital cafeteria before we returned to the children's ward for Aveen's blood tests.
Thanks so much for your support and prayers for our sweet Aveen. Please continue to lift both Aveen and her father up in your prayers. We thank the Lord for his glorious work in their lives - now and in the years to come! Amen!

A Long Wait

Posted on Mon, 05/01/2017 - 17:44 by Alexa Bigl

We arrived to Wolfson this morning and had a long wait in front of us. There were many other children also needing echos today. From last night until tonight it is a special day marked out to remember and recognize Israel's fallen soldiers. And tonight until tomorrow night it's Israel's 69th anniversary of independence. So, the doctors and technicians were supposed to only be working a couple hours this morning. However, they tirelessly stuck with it until the last child had been seen. Even though it was a long, boring wait for Aveen and her dad, we were very appreciative of the doctors dedication. 

And there was good news along with Aveen's echo. She can decrease her medications and the one for her previous issue with her heart rhythm can now be stopped. The fluid Aveen has around her right lung is decreasing.
Hopefully, this will be her final week on her no fat diet. She is sticking it out, but it's hard for her to eat such bland foods day after day. Next week, Monday, if the echo looks good Aveen can eat all her favorite foods again!
It looks like we only have a couple more weeks with Aveen and her father. We are so happy for the positive results and rejoice with father and daughter in the good news their return to Kurdistan is on the horizon; perhaps just two weeks from now. 


Posted on Wed, 04/26/2017 - 01:09 by Ruth Zellweger
Today was as very special day, as Aveen finally was cleared to come back to our Jaffa home.
The echo results are good, but she still has to continue her low fat diet for a while. Our community is very happy to have Aveen and her father back with us again, and we are looking forward to a few more joyful weeks with them.

Between Tears and Laughter

Posted on Sun, 04/23/2017 - 23:42 by Eva Markewitz
It has been a difficult day for Aveen and her father. Both the secondary ICU doctor and the cardiologist, Dr. Sagi, sedated Aveen for a heart electrical vibration this morning, due to her irregulat heart beat. Afterwards, she was in a lot of pain and cried for quite some time. Also her father was upset. But once she settled, she was able to smile again.
At first, she didn't want to do anything. But a friendly woman brought us a puzzle and suddenly she had great ambitions to finish the puzzle.
And a second one. And a third one. I was glad to see that we found something to make her forget about her current situation at the hospital.
But then, she began to cry again for she was receiving some special medications through her cannula which were painful. So the nurses told me that they needed to renew the cannula because it was not supposed to cause pain. Poor Aveen, who already went through so many blood tests and needle insertions for cannulas, was totally upset. It broke my heart to see her so miserable. She and her father have now been in the hospital for 15 days and still there is no prospect of coming home.
But even though it was a tough day for Aveen, there were some beautiful moments too, where we were just laughing and chatting. I really enjoyed these moments because they were showing a glimpse of the joyful and happy Aveen that we know.
Please keep this precious girl in your prayers! She has still a long way to go and needs strength and endurance to get through this difficult time.

The Beauty of Friendship

Posted on Thu, 04/20/2017 - 22:22 by Ruth Zellweger

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience."

Our beloved Aveen had a difficult time these past days. Her recovery has been slower than expected and she has not seen much progress. In addition, her heart is not beating normally, which requires the monitoring in the secondary ICU. While she still kept smiling with people around she did not know well, she shared with the ones she knows better how she truly felt. I saw her crying and sobbing three days in a row. She just does not understand why it takes so long, and misses her family in Kurdistan. Her baby sister has not been doing well and this adds to her discomfort and stress. 

Even though it has not been easy to see Aveen being so down and in tears, it has also been so beautiful to see how different community members came to support her during that difficult time. And I was able to witness that with each visit, after a time of tears, Aveen's laughter and joy returned. 

Yesterday, Camila spent many hours with Aveen. She has a gift of building up others, and serving them with strength and creativity. As a result, Aveen started smiling again. In the evening, our Jerusalem community stopped by at the hospital to visit Aveen and her father. Lindsay, her special friend, was able to cheer her up as well: 

This morning, it wasn't even ten o' clock yet, when Aveen's world was already upside down. She lay quietly in her bed and sobbed, big tears rolling down her face. The abnormal heart beat that she is experiencing is keeping her longer under close monitoring, and made medical intervention necessary. This time, it was Simone, our newest nurse asset from Brazil, who had it on her heart to stay with Aveen and support her. Even though there is a language barrier, the language of love and friendship is very capable. It took longer today for the smile to return, but eventually, it did. And by the time Eva arrived with her guitar to spend time with Aveen, it had fully returned. 

I have been so blessed by seeing how each of these precious women had their role in comforting Aveen and supporting her during that season of waiting and standstill. I saw them reach out to her with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. What a beautiful testimony of the Father's work in their lives.


Tender Sweetness

Posted on Wed, 04/19/2017 - 20:07 by Camila Buitrago
It is good to spend time with our friends. For that reason, today I was able to go to the hospital to visit Aveen. During the morning, I helped her comb her hair and we shared some fruits. Many nurses at the hospital greet Aveen with a lot of tenderness. Aveen is really a very sweet girl, so it's easy to see why the people around her are very friendly.
During the afternoon, Aveen and I were coloring some pictures and we also spent time with the other patients and hospital volunteers.
Finishing the day, Aveen decided to sleep for a while. Her recovery has been very good and she looks much better. Aveen is a very tender girl and I really like the spontaneous way in which she smiles and always has a good atittude.
Now we must wait until her recovery is further along so that Aveen can give us more beautiful smiles.

Joyful Aveen

Posted on Sun, 04/16/2017 - 23:09 by Ruth Zellweger

I had not seen Aveen since before her heart surgery, so yesterday afternoon I took the opportunity to visit her in the hospital and bringing her father some Kurdish food. We had hoped that Aveen would have her chest tube removed by yesterday afternoon, but this turned out to not be the case. Just before the doctors were going to remove the tube, Aveen's father saw that the chest tube was draining fluid again. They tube stayed in, as did Aveen in the ICU. 

But this did not mean that Aveen or her father were moping around. Instead, they both were of good cheers. I truly enjoyed the afternoon with them, assuming that today I would not have much time as a new child, Sara, underwent all her initial assessments. However, by the early afternoon the mother and child were settled in their room and I went to see Aveen. I could not find her in the ICU, but was referred to the Secondary ICU. Finally, this morning, the chest tube had been removed and with that Aveen was cleared to be transferred. Again, I found her in good spirits. One of her favorite nurses was on duty. Since it was bathing time for her, I helped her with that and afterwards we both tried to untangle her hair, which was quite a procedure. There was much fun and laughter involved. 

We are so thankful for the life of our endearing Aveen, who blesses us with her joyful and selfless personality. We pray that she continues to recover, and that she soon will be able to return to our Jaffa home and then soon after to her family in Kurdistan.

Sleeping Beauty

Posted on Thu, 04/13/2017 - 21:45 by Brenda Hofer

Susanne and I made two unplanned visits to the hospital on Pesach. We took two kiddos, at different times, who weren't feeling great to make sure they were going to be okay. In the meantime, I had the opportunity to visit with Aveen and her father in the seconndary ICU. Her dad was a little surprised we were there but glad to see us. Aveen was sleeping basically the entire time, but the nurse came in after a while and adjusted her tubing, waking up Aveen. She smiled when she opened up her eyes, seeing me gently waving hello to her. She went back to sleep peacefully. She looked liked a dark haired, Sleeping Beauty to me. She has grown into a lovely young woman. It was a quiet visit, but I was able to pray over her for health, and for she and her father to blessed with the peace of Yeshua.