Rasty's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Goodbye to Smart, sweet Rasty

Posted on Wed, 02/22/2017 - 21:46 by Alexa Bigl

Rasty and his father are safely home in Kurdistan! Praise God for this father and son duo who were in Israel just under one month. While every child's journey to their healed heart has different challenges and joys, we are blessed to have been part of each of them. Rasty is filled with joy, and while there were difficulties with pain, it was obvious to see God poured out His healing onto Rasty. 

We were able to celebrate the culmination of his time here with an upbeat party. We kicked off the evening with a delicious meal, and we laughed a lot as we got to soak in the last hours with Rasty. We also had an opportunity to sing worship songs before we began sharing with Rasty. Many community members recognized Rasty's sharp brain. His wonderful grasp of the English language is an example of how smart this kid is - it's amazing! We also noted how sweet and well mannered he is. Rasty makes friends very easily, and we said goodbye to our brother and friend yesterday when he left. Rasty's father also got some words of encouragement as we shared about his caring, fatherly ways with his precious son. 
We were also able to give gifts including toys, clothes, a blanket, a Bible, and more. Rasty happily played with his new toys the rest of the evening, bouncing balls around and checking out what he had gotten. 
Before ending the evening with a last song of praise to God, we watched a slideshow outlining Rasty's time in Israel. While he was mainly here to receive heart surgery, this kid clearly had some fun times too! Seeing silly pictures with Shevet community members and photos of him and his dad touring around both Jaffa and Jerusalem was so fun. 
They got to the airport yesterday morning and had no troubles with security. By around 1:30 p.m. they had landed back at their home airport! We will be continuing to pray for Rasty and his father, for both physical and spiritual health! Thank you for joining us on their journey. 

Rasty's Final Day in Israel

Posted on Mon, 02/20/2017 - 22:30 by Ruth Zellweger

After having spent the last days in Jerusalem, Rasty and father left midmorning today for his final echo at Wolfson hospital. The atmosphere was joyful, as our full van made it's way to Tel Aviv. 

Arrived at the echo department, Rasty was soon in the room for his echocardiogram. His heart looks good and there is no residual fluid around heart or lung. We then left the hospital and had lunch together with our other families at our Jaffa home. Afterwards, Rasty took his last opportunity to go for a walk with Camila and our dog Shevie. 

I have gotten to know Rasty as a very smart young boy, who is very sociable, but also very much a boy. He loves computergames and can often be found competing with a friend back home in Kurdistan.

Early tomorrow morning Rasty and his father will depart from Ben Gurion airport and should be reunited with their family around noon time. We are thankful for Rasty's smooth recovery without complications.


Rasty the Brave

Posted on Mon, 02/13/2017 - 21:49 by Tilde Sondergaard

Rasty went to the hospital today to get his first echo after he was discharged. He does still have small chest pains, but it’s getting better every day. The doctor told us that everything looked fine and everything was good. Additionally the doctor said that Rasty could stop his heart medication. 

Rasty was in a very good mood despite the pain.

Rasty is going to have another echo on Thursday and if everything looks fine he can go home!

Afterward, we went to another department to remove Rasty's stiches in his chest. He was very nervous and scared about it at first, because he thought it would hurt. Then he plucked up the courage and got it done.

Then he only needed a blood test which he also was a little nervous about. When it was all finished, he was so proud and he showed me his finger where the test was taken.

It’s nice to see he’s getting better and may God bless him and his family.

Rasty's Release

Posted on Sun, 02/05/2017 - 23:19 by Paul Gerstmann

This morning Ruth and I made our way to Wolfson hospital in support of Zakariya's surgery. As well, Rasty was due for another echo to determine whether he is in good enough condition to leave the hospital. Just taking one look at Rasty I could see a vast improvement from just two days earlier - his father was also in very high spirits and could barely contain Rasty's energy on the way to the echo.

Rasty's doctor gave the "thumbs-up" on his release, and one could sense the relief emanating from both Rasty and his father. Rasty has maintained a very good attitude throughout all the procedures he has undergone, which I believe has helped keep his father as calm as could be possible.

Both Rasty and his father will be staying with Shevet for about a month, ensuring medications are taken properly and no complications arise throughout the healing process. God truly has answered all our prayers for Rasty and has been a guiding hand in Rasty's well-being. May Rasty be touched now and for years to come by Messiah's loving embrace.

Rasty In The Ward

Posted on Wed, 02/01/2017 - 22:42 by Ruth Zellweger

What a pleasant surprise this morning when Rasty was wheeled into the children's ward!

Even though he is still weak and in pain he is slowly but steadily improving. And his cheerful father is always at his side and ready to help and assist his son. 

Rasty is in the same room as two newly arrived fathers and their sons from the same region in Kurdistan as he is from. His father helped with translating for the other fathers and it was sweet to see how this little group is forming a small community within the hospital. 

We are looking forward to soon seeing Rasty walking around and returning to our Shevet base. 

Weak Made Strong

Posted on Tue, 01/31/2017 - 05:59 by Sean Perez
It was quite a busy day at Wolfson hospital, for both the medical staff and all of the volunteers at Shevet Achim. When I initially arrived at Wolfson, I went to Osama's room and there I saw Rasty's father sharing breakfast with Osama and his dad. There they were smiling and exchanging kind words with one another about both of their children's experience in the hospital thus far. After the two dads finished connecting and sharing their feelings, I planned to meet Rasty's father back in the ICU where his son was located to follow-up and further touch base.
A few moments after that when I arrived in the ICU, all the doctors were around Rasty's bed, extubating and removing the tubes from his chest. So the nurses kindly asked if I would come back in a few moments to visit with Rasty then. I graciously complied and when I returned there I saw Rasty and his father waving me to come and visit with them.  Rasty's father is quite an encourager and full of spirit and life, to where he made me feel very welcome and almost like family, as it was only the second time we were meeting on this journey together. The only problem was since Rasty just had the tubes removed, he was still under very heavy medication and he wasn't really coherent at that moment.
Rasty's father kept telling me the doctors told him to keep talking to Rasty to try to keep him awake. The doctors were wanting Rasty as awake as possible to try and help him increase his breathing patterns as best as possible. So, we kept attempting to get Rasty's attention and we were able to get a little feedback from time-to-time, but you could tell he was anxious and really just wanted to fall asleep.  
After one of the nurse assistants gave Rasty some sips of water, it was explained to me that Rasty still had a little fever of 39 degrees Celsius and that he was on certain meds to help expand and increase his breathing arrythmia. Nonetheless, Rasty is still very much in decent shape following his procedure and everyone is very optimistic about his recovery at the moment. Although Rasty appeared to be very weak because of the meds and having just been extubated, please continue to pray that these moments of weakness will be turned into great strength, and that God would continue to bring him through these very intense next couple of days. 

A Successful Operation

Posted on Sun, 01/29/2017 - 22:24 by Paul Gerstmann

Yesterday, Rasty's father became quite nervous about the upcoming surgery. He had some additional questions he wanted to talk about with the cardiologists. The hospital staff was very helpful and talked with Rasty's dad, explaining the cardiologist would happily speak with him before the surgery. 

The hospital had a complicated schedule for this morning and we were unsure when or if Rasty would go into surgery today. But God's timing is perfect and can always be trusted - and His timing was planned for this morning!
Today Rasty went in for his surgery at 8:35am, and throughout the wait his father was understandably nervous. Rasty was released from surgery about 2:15pm, and his father was joyed to tears seeing all went well in surgery.
The doctor said the VSD is closed and the valve is functioning normally. However,, the next 24 to 48 hours are critical to ensure there is not too much clotting of the blood in the early stages of healing. Myself and Suhail left Rasty's to be alone with his son.
As we left, his gaze into his son's face was priceless. Thank God for another successful operation. Please keep Rasty in your prayers for continued healing. 

Rasty Admitted!

Posted on Fri, 01/27/2017 - 21:43 by Coert van der Veen
This morning we headed from rainy Jerusalem to Wolfson hospital for Rasty's admission. 
As we arrived to the children's ward the nurses showed us his room and we got him changed into his hospital pajamas.
Then it was time for some tests. Seeing the small needle for the bloodtest however made Rasty get very nervous, and this made it impossible for the nurse to take a blood sample. So she put some cream on his arm and hands so that he won't feel much on a second try later today. 
So this kept us waiting for a doctor for further examination. Eventually Rasty had his bloodtest done and he had his first hospital lunch. Then it was time to say goodbye. Father and son will now have to wait until Sunday for Rasty's big day! Please pray for them as his surgery approaches.

Welcome, Rasty!

Posted on Mon, 01/23/2017 - 18:42 by Paul Gerstmann

This morning Ruth and I set out to pick up Rasty and his father from the airport, as they were just arriving to begin Rasty's medical treatment in Israel. This was my first time driving in Israel, but I found that I fit in quite well with the local drivers. Arriving safely at the airport, we were greeted by an exhausted yet vibrant father and son.

On the way to Wolfson hospital, Rasty got some much needed shut-eye, and his father seemed to get a second wind with the excitement in the air. Once we made our arrival at Wolfson, Rasty got the standard assessments - a T.B. test, echo exam and x-rays.

We are not sure when Rasty will be in surgery but it seems the doctor needs to close a hole between the two ventricles. Rasty had a great attitude all throughout the lengthy process. Both him and his father, I'm sure, will make a great addition to our community.

Part way through our hospital visit we ran into all the other families, and it was a perfect opportunity for everyone to introduce themselves. Rasty and I had a great time playing at the playground and he even asked for my phone number. I think we will be good friends.

Please keep Rasty and all the other beautiful children and their families in your prayers. May God continue to work his miracles in these children's live and bless their medical journey with the peace of Yeshua.