Zanyar's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Spreading the News

Posted on Wed, 02/17/2016 - 11:54 by Agnes Bruna

Zanyar only left our community in Jerusalem in January. Everyone fondly remembers this cute toddler with his big, brown eyes and ready smile. He even got to celebrate his first birthday with us.

And now we could see his home, his mother, and his three older sisters. Zanyar looks bigger than he used to, he is very close to walking, and was constantly asking someone to hold his hands so he could walk around. He likes looking in books and is very alert.

It always strikes me how happy these families are to receive us. We were treated to an amazing fish meal (Zanyar’s father is a fisherman), and afterwards spent some time talking with everyone.

Zanyar’s father also was happy to accompany us to the house of a boy who is about to come to Israel. He even spent some time with another family who needs to come with their boy and is very hesitant about it all. It was good to see and hear his enthusiasm about his time in Israel.

We are so grateful to God for his continued healing of Zanyar and pray that he will grow up to be a strong man who knows what God has done for him.

Bye, Bye, Zanyar

Posted on Wed, 01/20/2016 - 21:53 by Ruth Zellweger

Yesterday after lunch, we celebrated Zanyar's new heart by sharing memories with Zanyar's father about their time with us. Our community appreciated both father and son for their gentle spirits. Zanyar's sweet smile captured our hearts; however, it would disappear quickly when his father was not around. Zanyar has changed so much during the past six weeks. He got new teeth, he practiced walking, his heart was repaired - all major milestones in the life of a one year old. We feel so blessed having been allowed to be a part of his life during that season. 

Zanyar's father also shared some thoughts with us. He told us how he appreciated that he as a Muslim man and we as a Christian community could come together and share life, as well as the Jewish doctors operating on his son's heart. 

After our time of sharing we presented some gifts to Zanyar and his father and watched a picture dvd, which captured the time they had spent with us. 

Before we left for the airport that evening, we gathered for one last cup of tea and some sweets, and prayed over Zanyar and his father. As it has become our custom, they were waved off by our community. 

At the airport, everything went smoothly. Within one hour, the security check was done and the luggage checked. Agnes and I sat down one last time with Zanyar's father to walk him through the last step, which he had to do on his own. Little Zanyar got some exercise walking for one last time, but then his father put him back in the stroller. And then it was already time to say goodbye. 

I will certainly miss Zanyar and his father, but I am sure that his family in Kurdistan is so happy to have them back--especially Zanyar's mother. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for her being so far away from her beloved son. 

We are very grateful for God's loving hand on little Zanyar. May he one day come to understand the love God has for him.

Baby with the Brilliant Smile Discharged!

Posted on Mon, 01/18/2016 - 18:39 by Jesse Tilman

Going for Zanyar's echo today we expected it to be his last. He was just on a small dose of one medication and his heart has been doing well. The doctor examined him today and said it is perfect! So the medication was stopped and he was declared ready to return to Kurdistan. Through the rest of the day as we worked with our other patients, we congratulated this father and son. 
Later Agnes called saying that we could even book tickets home for them tomorrow night if they were willing. The father didn't like the flight time late at night so he said he'd wait for another day. When I relayed this information I heard that all the flights for the next few days are nighttime ones so he'd have to fly late through the night anyway. Upon hearing this he said that the next flight would be good. So our baby with the brilliant smile is heading home very soon!


The Good News

Posted on Mon, 01/11/2016 - 22:52 by Miriam Svensson

Another Monday, and time for a new echo for Zanyar.

We arrived at the hospital just before lunch. As we waited at the echo department, Zanyar took the chance to practice some walking. His father held him while he tried his legs around the floor. They both seemed to enjoy this very much. 

Something Zanyar did not enjoy was the echo; he protested loudly the whole way through it.

What a joy then to get good news from the doctor: Next week’s echo might be the final for Zanyar! This means he and his father can hopefully soon return to the rest of their family.

Praise the Lord for every step forward for Zanyar!

Lookin' Good!

Posted on Mon, 01/04/2016 - 18:24 by Emma St Peters

Today, Zanyar had an echo appointment at Wolfson Hospital so Miriam, Coert, and I accompanied him to the hospital. Zanyar slept all the way there and awoke grumpy as we arrived. We went to the waiting area and there were many other children and noises in the room which did not help with Zanyar's mood. We did get an occasional smile or giggle out of him, but for the most part he held his straight face. 

During the echo Zanyar was not happy, he cried for the majority of it. We were all quite happy though because the doctor said Zanyar was progressing very well. Zanyar will receive another echo next week to check on his heart recovery.

Please continue to pray for Zanyar and his caring father!

Return to Jerusalem

Posted on Sun, 01/03/2016 - 10:14 by Miriam Svensson

I called the hospital Friday morning, and it was confirmed Zanyar would be released to go home. So, I went there to bring him and his father back to Jerusalem. Zanyar was sweet and smiling, as usual, when I came to the ward. He only cried a little when the nurse took out his IV cannula. Otherwise, he was happy and he looked to have recovered very well so far.

In the car, Zanyar soon fell asleep.

His father told me he too was very tired after the stay in the hospital, and after a while he was sleeping as well. When we arrived they both seemed content to join the two other fathers and their children they are staying with.

We thank the Lord for His healing hand on precious Zanyar! Thank you for praying with us for his continued recovery.

A Great Mood

Posted on Mon, 12/28/2015 - 21:08 by Coert van der Veen

Is it just six days ago that we were in ICU looking at Zayar after a full day of surgery with a still open chest? As we entered the children's ward this morning, we met Zanyar sitting upright in his bed, eating his pudding. 

He was in a great mood, laughing at me, and we played hide and seek behind his blanket. At lunchtime, he enjoyed his favorite food: carrots. With just a little extra oxygen, he is recovering great.

His dad looks a bit tired but a lot more relaxed now, making jokes, his eyes twinkling. He's also a great comfort and help to other parents in the children's ward. It is really great what the Lord is doing in here!

A Father's Love

Posted on Sun, 12/27/2015 - 22:21 by Miriam Svensson

Rebekah and I went to the hospital today to visit the families that are there. I had heard Zanyar was now in secondary ICU, so I peeked in through the open door. And there he was, sitting in the bed with his devoted father by his side.  

The nurse told me Zanyar is doing very well. He has no chest tubes left, he needs only a little supplemental oxygen, and he is eating well. He can be moved to the children's ward as soon as they have a bed available.

It is wonderful to see Zanyar's father with his son. When he looks at his precious child his eyes are so filled with love. What a beautiful reminder of our heavenly Father's love for all of us. Praise be to Him for holding Zanyar in His hand and helping his heart to heal!

"Praise the Lord, all you nations! Extol him, all you peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!" Psalm 117

Breathe, Baby Breathe

Posted on Thu, 12/24/2015 - 17:29 by Alexa Bigl

Zanyar was extubated today around 9am! He is doing well breathing on his own with some help from supplemental oxygen.

We walked into the ICU to see Zanyar’s father carefully comforting his beautiful son. Zanyar worked his vocal cords a lot this morning, despite his throat’s remaining irritation from the ventilation tube. All the crying was because Zanyar was hungry! I had the honor of feeding Zanyar his first post-op bottle while his father was able to take a break from the ICU to talk to his family and eat some lunch.

Zanyar was so hungry he finished his bottle in about 5 minutes and was immediately ready for more.

Luckily, his father soon came back and Zanyar took an extended nap for the rest of the afternoon. We are so thankful to God that Zanyar is progressing so well in his recovery!   

Surgery Day

Posted on Tue, 12/22/2015 - 22:06 by Coert van der Veen

Today was Zanyar’s big day. We drove off at 6 am to Tel Aviv to help prepare Zanyar for his surgery and to stand with his dad. We found the two in the children's ward. Zanyar was not happy and crying a lot. Of course he was hungry since he was not allowed to eat before surgery. His dad was taking great care of him holding him close and walking around from 2 am.

I was happy to be able to put an arm around his shoulder and support him, even without language due to not knowing any Kurdish.

He went to talk to the doctor together with Ruth to discuss the options for surgery. After a good talk the decision was made to try to do an arterial switch, which is a lot riskier, but would be the solution allowing for a longer lifespan. As we were walking to the pre-operating room, Zanyar was calm and all the OR nurses were falling in love with him. No wonder, he is so cute! 
Zanyar was carried in the operation room by his dad, who was very brave.

While Zanyar was in surgery I took his dad for a walk to the beach. It helped him to feel better and we had a good time. As we ran into a fishing boat at the beach his eyes lit up, and with some hand signs he explained to me he is a fisherman. And of course we took some pictures of him in front of the boat.

While sitting on the beach we prayed together for Zanyar.  Then he wanted to go back to the hospital to be near Zanyar. After waiting for 6 hours we were informed the doctors tried several times to perform the first step of the arterial switch. When the surgeons attempted to perform this step Zanyar did not respond well, so they changed to the original plan to do an atrial switch. This means Zanyar was in the OR for a very long time. After many hours in surgery, Zanyar came back to the ICU. The first echo results look good! We praise God for watching over this precious little boy. We were happy to see the little, brave Zanyar laying there in his bed in ICU.

He will have a long way to go towards recovery, but we have great hope in God’s healing power!