Yaser's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

A Transformational Journey

Posted on Tue, 01/03/2017 - 15:35 by Alexa Bigl

This morning, tears were shed as we waved Yaser and his mom off at Ben Gurion airport. Althought mother and son have been with us only a month, the duo has become an integral part of the Shevet family. Security and check-in at the airport went very well this morning. The smooth process was speedy, praise God! However, it meant even less time with Yaser and his mom. Watching Yaser sleep during our last minutes together was a precious memory to store away.

His now pudgy cheeks, smooth breathing, creamy skin, and beautiful color were a testiment to the transformation from a very sick 2-month-old baby to this very healthy 3-month-old he is now! God certainly healed this little baby in ways that glorify His name; there's no doubting it was the works of God that allowed Yaser to return back home to Kurdistan in his current, incredible state. 

Last night we got the opportunity to celebrate Yaser's healing and show appreciate to his mom for all she means to us. Our friend Yasmine made an amazing Arab dish, magluba. Partnered with a salad made by Naz's mom, the meal was a hit!

Although the meal time was a bit extended as our Jerusalem team had gotten stuck in traffic, we were ready for the real festivities of the party to start after a bit. We sang songs of worship together expressing, alongside Yaser's mom, our thanks to the Heavenly Healer for Yaser's life and health. 

Next, many of us shared a few words with Yaser's mom. Osama's dad helped us translate and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to express to Yaser's mom how much we love her and Yaser. It was unanimously said Yaser's mom is one of the sweetest and most gentle people we know. 

We then gave gifts for Yaser and his mom. We don't often have such young babies with us, so it is was so fun seeing the tiny clothes and hats that would fit Yaser. He also received toys and a very soft blanket. His mom open a gift of nail polish, a hair clip, perfume, and both an MP3 and hardcopy of the Bible. At first, Yaser's mom was hesitant to receive the gift saying becoming part of the Shevet family was enough of a gift already. However, we explained how this allowed us to demonstrate our love for her and Yaser in a physical way, and she gladly received the presents. 

It was then time for the DVD; a photo slideshow of Yaser's Israel journey. And what a journey it was! The transformation of tiny, sick Yaser to the beautiful healthy boy he is now- Wow! God is good. The DVD reminded us of the difficult and beautiful times Yaser and his mom went through. From when they first arrived at Ben Gurion and Yaser's oxygen saturation was only 35%, to an extended hospitalization where Yaser continued to struggle to keep an acceptable oxygen saturation level (even with supplemental oxygen), and then to a CT scan revealing some damage to his brain. Yaser's surgery was scheduled for the day after the CT scan, but the doctors kept delaying the surgery one hour at a time to continuing reviewing the CT scan. Eventually, the doctors cancelled the surgery and explained about Yaser's infarction area and cyst in his brain. Because of the risk associated with an extended time on bypass, the surgical plan was changed. Later that week, Yaser finally had his open-heart surgical repair. He bounced back so quickly, soon out of the ICU and to the children's ward. Soon after that, on no medication, Yaser returned to Shevet's Jaffa house. And now, just 2 weeks later, Yaser is ready to go to Kurdistan! 

After replaying this journey via the DVD, we went into a time of prayer. Thanks to God for Yaser's preserved brain, healed heart, and that we got to know him! God is indeed good! We received word about 2 hours ago Yaser and his mom are safely at their home in Kurdistan. Please join us in continued prayer for this baby boy; may God strengthen and preserve him. Since Yaser's surgical plan was changed, his right ventricle continues to be the main pump of his heart, bringing the blood to his body. This is backwards of a normal heart and there's a risk the right ventricle will become too tired to continue it's job after many years. So we will continue to pray for Yaser and that his right ventricle remains strong and healthy! 

Bye, Bye, Baby Yaser

Posted on Mon, 01/02/2017 - 18:01 by Rebekah Yang

This morning was a really big day for our little baby Yaser; it was echo day! We were all praying it would be his final echo since last week's results were great, and the doctor mentioned it's possible today's would be the final. After we waited for a little while, Yaser was called for his turn.

It did not take very long and Doctor Alona gave us the good news regarding his echo report.
At first she was a bit concerned to release Yaser back to Kurdistan since he had his surgery less than a month ago.
After few minutes of discussion in the next room, she came back to say: "Well, baby Yaser you can go home to Kurdistan. Bye, bye."
Wow! Praise God for the amazing healing He is doing in baby Yaser's life. Tonight we are going to have a rejoicing farewell party for both mum and baby Yaser. Let's lift our hands to praise our mighty God, hallelujah!

Doing Great

Posted on Mon, 12/26/2016 - 22:07 by Ruth Zellweger

Little Yaser had his first follow-up echo today since coming to our Jaffa home after his surgery. His mother waited patiently until it was his turn to be examined. And her patience paid off. Dr. Demeke carefully examined Yaser's heart, and afterwards consulted with Dr. Tamir. When he gave us back the papers, he mentioned that next week could be Yaser's final echo. It took me by surprise, but then I was reminded that Yaser is on no medication at all. 

We are thankful for the way God intervened in Yaser's life, and hope that the potentially last week in Israel for Yaser and his mom would be meaningful. 

A First

Posted on Sun, 12/18/2016 - 20:40 by Ruth Zellweger

Less than a week after his open-heart surgery, baby Yaser was discharged today from Wolfson hospital. Thursday evening he was transfered to the children's ward, where he continued to recover very well. Today, both mother and son had to wait for a while until we had a vehicle available to pick them up. When I arrived at the children's ward, Yaser was asleep. His mother embraced me happily. When I asked for Yaser's meds I was very surprised when the nurse on duty only told me how often Yaser should have his formula. Yaser is doing so well that he does not need any medication for his heart! 

We soon left the hospital in company of Sue, and Sonya and her mother. It was the first time that Yaser's mother set eye on and foot into our new home in Jaffa for the next couple of weeks. The other families stood waiting to welcome them, which was so sweet to observe. What a blessing that we can live together, and share joys and burdens with each other. 

Yaser is scheduled for a follow-up echo in one week. We pray that he continues to heal well and praise God for sustaining his life. 

Yaser on the Mend

Posted on Thu, 12/15/2016 - 23:12 by Ruth Zellweger

It was a joy to see Yaser and his mother today. They are currently residing in the Secondary ICU. Yaser continues to be the cute little boy, and his mother the sweet and affectionare woman with the caring heart.

There are so many things connected with Yaser's condition, his travel and treatment for which we can praise God for. He is the sustainer and provider - and the ultimate Healer. To Him be the glory!

Visiting Yaser in ICU

Posted on Wed, 12/14/2016 - 06:15 by Camila Buitrago

This morning we had a beautiful surprise during the ICU visit. Yaser is no longer connected to the oxygen machine which is wonderful news. The doctors told us that he is very well, his breathing is fluid, and this is the reason why he is no longer connected to the machine. He is currently receiving special treatment for his lungs. 

Yaser's mom was calm and happy to see the fruits of waiting several days, and of course we were also. After sharing some minutes together and embracing with joy to see the progress of Yaser, we decided to all go spend some time with Sonya's mom who was a little sad. Yaser's mother was a comfort to her. 
We are happy to see how families can help each other and have a voice of encouragement to the different situations that arise in the daily lives of their babies. We know that they are precious treasures that God has also sent into our lives for a reason. Every day we thank our Father in heaven - only He knows our hearts and only he has healed and will heal the hearts of these little ones.
Please join us in continuing to pray for Yaser's recovery.

Yaser Had His Surgery!

Posted on Tue, 12/13/2016 - 06:02 by Alexa Bigl

After two weeks of waiting, surgery planning, changes of plans, scheduling, and canceling, Yaser's surgery day finally came! After the miraculously short waiting time for Yaser's visa due to his urgency, it was very hard on his family to wait these past two weeks. It was emotional for his mom to learn about his brain issues and difficult news that his only surgical option was the one-step procedure. However, God continues to be faithful and He strengthened Yaser's mom in amazing ways today. While she had moments of tears, she persevered through the hours of Yaser in the operating theatre. 

We went down to the preoperative room around 7:30 this morning. The nurses and doctors began their routine procedures very quickly, but then things stalled to a stop. We soon figured out the doctors did not have a signed consent form for the new surgical plan. This was soon remedied, and the correct consent was signed. At 8:30 we waved goodbye to Yaser as he went in to be intubated and for the surgery to begin. 
We then had a time of waiting that included drinking tea, walking around the bizarre, and eating some food together. Yaser's mom patiently waited with Eva and me, knowing the surgery would be many hours. She enjoyed showing us pictures of her beautiful family and we had a blessed time. 
Right around 2 o'clock we learned the surgery was finished! After Yaser arrived to ICU, we waited outside to get the report from the surgeon. When he came out, his update was quick but positive. The surgery went very well and they are happy with how his heart looks; they will monitor him closely and wait for the first follow-up echo and for when Yaser is ready to wake up. 
About 20 minutes later, we could go in and see Yaser. His mom immediately began praying when she saw him and happily allowed us to pray alongside her. We praised God for Yaser's well being and thanked Him for his wonderful mother. We also prayed his brain remained protected from further damage during the surgery and for a full life for Yaser. 
It was a wonderful day and we are still happy to report Yaser already looks healthier with his skin coloring. We are excited to witness continued miracles of healing by our Father's hands! 

It's All In God's Hands

Posted on Mon, 12/05/2016 - 18:05 by Alexa Bigl

Yaser has had some changes to his heart repair plan. The CT-scan yesterday of his brain has been looked at more closely and a more complete report has been generated. It seems Yaser has two different issues going on with his brain, a cyst on the left side and an ischemic area on the right. While this difficult news has some consequences, we must praise God. Despite the very serious and concerning findings, all of Yaser's physical examinations had good results. He can see and hear, he has all the normal baby reflexes, and he clearly recognizes his mother. He is developing normally neurologically. This is only by the grace and protective hand of God. 

As for the consequences of the brain issues: the doctors no longer feel comfortable doing the three-step route to Yaser's healed heart; the catheterization, pulmonary banding, and switching of the great arteries. This route will have Yaser under anesthesia and on the bypass machine for a long period of time. Every minute on the bypass machine is an additional risk to Yaser's fragile neurological state. So, the doctors have opted to change the surgical plan to decrease the neurological risks as much as possible. Now, Yaser is scheduled to receive a one-step repair of his cardiac defect. The doctors said the operation will not be tomorrow, but are confident it will still be this week. 
The news was hard on Yaser's mom. She learned about the fragile state of Yaser's brain, hearing about the extent of the issues, for the first time today. The one-step repair the doctors plan to perform has a decreased life expectancy also. With this type of repair, Yaser's right ventricle will continue to pump oxygenated blood to his body. This is usually the left ventricle's job, and unfortunately the right ventricle is not strong enough to maintain this huge job for a full lifetime. Life expectancy ranges a wide amount with this type of repair, but it was very difficult for Yaser's mom when she first heard. After she was able to ask some questions and had time to process, she remarked it's all in God's hands. This is so true, and it amazes and inspires me how quickly she came to this conclusion.

God knows every hair on Yaser's head, and we can confidently lift this tiny baby boy to Him. Please join us as we pray for the coming days; healing for Yaser, wisdom for the doctors, and strength for the mother. May He bring rest and comfort to those who are in need. 

Approaching Surgery Day

Posted on Sun, 12/04/2016 - 17:30 by Ruth Zellweger

Precious Yaser has been monitored these past days at Wolfson hospital and we are very thankful for the caution the medical team is taking. Several times his oxygen saturation dropped very low and even with oxygen it did not go up much. Yaser is on schedule for his first of a two-step heart surgery tomorrow. However, before the doctors will take him to the operation room, they will first perform an interventional catheterization in order to enlarge a hole between the left and right atrium of Yaser's heart that had been created shortly after Yaser's birth in order to safe his life. 

After the catheterization, the hope is to put a band around the pulmonary artery in order to enlarge the left ventricle. Only if this quite risky procedure is successful, then the surgeons can attempt step two of the heart repair: the switching of the great arteries. 

During our hospital visit, Yaser also underwent a CT-scan of his brain to see how he is doing neurologically. The doctors sometimes do this by routine before major heart surgeries. The official report has not come back yet, however, it appears that Yaser already has some congenital damage of his brain. 

We ask our friends to come alongside our community and join us in praying for baby Yaser. We ask for peace and comfort for his lovely mother, for steady hands of the surgeons, and that God will be glorified in all of these things.

Yaser's First Day in the Israeli Hospital

Posted on Thu, 12/01/2016 - 18:41 by Eva Markewitz

Tuesday night, sweet Yaser and his mother arrived at the Ben Gurion airport. As we picked them up, Yaser needed some oxygen because his oxygen saturation was initially in the 40's for percentage (a healthy child would have saturation in the high 90's). But thanks to God, his saturation quickly went up and slept the whole way back to Jerusalem.

We took them to hospital this morning to get the initial assessments for Yaser.

The mother is a very warm-hearted and patient person with whom I felt comfortable with immediately. Yaser is just seven weeks old and still very small and fragile.

Today, he and his mother went through all the procedures the doctors needed to evaluate Yasers’s condition. Indeed, it was a hard day for this little baby, especially during the blood test - he cried a lot. But mostly, as soon as he got his bottle of milk and could snuggle into the soft blanket in his mothers arms, he calmed down and fell asleep.

After his echo, the doctor told us that actually Yaser is already too old for switching the arteries in just one surgery. The older he gets, the higher the risk is for those kind of surgeries. In the next few days the doctors will check on his condition and will figure out what is going to be the best treatment plan for Yaser.

Both are going to stay in hospital overnight. Please pray for this little family that they get the strength to face the coming weeks.