Seraj's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

The Long Awaited Farewell

Posted on Fri, 04/07/2017 - 19:39 by Eva Markewitz

Yesterday we had a joyful evening celebrating the long awaited farewell of our precious little friend, Seraj!

I well remember the day when he and his father arrived in Israel. The father was very concerned about his son and overwhelmed by the new situation he was in now. Seraj was indeed looking very blue for his oxygen level was low.

In our house, first Seraj was very clingy to his father and was not feeling comfortable with any other people. But once the little one connected to some of our volunteers, they settled in quickly. They became an important part of our community and Seraj's smile was loved by everyone.

Seraj had to wait quite a while for his surgery, and their patience was tested as it was delayed a few times. Then finally he had his procedure and it was such a joy to look into his cute face that was not bluish anymore - to see the rosy feet and hands. 

This was the reason for the party yesterday evening: Seraj and his father were finally allowed to fly back to Kurdistan!

It was a beautiful evening with amazing food cooked by one of our fathers, with some cheerful worship songs and a blessed time of fellowship. Seraj received some gifts as well as his father, including a wonderful portait drawn by our Peruvian volunteer, Dany.

The next morning, we left for the airport early in the morning. Thanks to God, everything went smoothly and the airport staff treated us very nicely. I'm very thankful that I could get to know this family. May God bless them as they arrive back home.


Tears of Relief and Joy

Posted on Tue, 04/04/2017 - 02:18 by Susanne Minshull

Today was a day when a lot of children were having a heart echo at Wolfson hospital. It was therefore a long wait to find out whether this would be the last echo for Seraj before he was discharged. Starting off feeling happy and confident, both father and son got more anxious as the day wore on, but finally the echo was done. 

By now a little sedation was needed for Seraj to stop crying and he and the father smiled their way through the echo. When they were cleared to fly back home, the tears came. Tears of relief and joy. Now the flight to Kurdistan is booked!

They are beaming and we are beaming, thanking God for yet another child who has been able to have his heart repaired. We are now planning a farewell party where we will remember our time together and ask God to bless them on their way. We also remember and thank God for all the people involved to make this possible.


Back in Jaffa

Posted on Mon, 03/27/2017 - 23:00 by Ruth Zellweger

Today Seraj's father heard the good news he had been waiting for the past days. Seraj's echocardiogram showed that there is currently no fluid left caused by the chylothorax (lymph formed in the digestive system and accumulating in the pleural cavity). Seraj will have to continue with his special low-fat diet and needs to return for another echo next Monday. The father's patience had been hard tested these last days, and it had not always been easy for him and others around him. But today he was in very good spirits and radiated joy.

Seraj and father waiting with Naz and mother for Safa's surgery

Even though Seraj was discharged before noon, his father didn't want to leave the hospital but rather wanted to wait with Safa's mother, as her son underwent open heart surgery today. It was beautiful to see the bond the families living with us have formed during their time together. Safa's mother was very appreciative for the support received. 

When Safa was wheeled into the ICU, Seraj's father even chased down one of the doctors to get an update on Safa's repair. From own experience a few weeks ago he knew the feelings the mother was going through at that moment. After he got all the information, he soon left hospital with his son in the stroller. By the time I reached our Jaffa home, I found father and son looking from the window, happy to be out of the hospital. 

Thank God for His love and mercy that He has shown to Seraj and his family. 


Seraj's Happy Day

Posted on Thu, 03/23/2017 - 19:37 by Rebekah Yang

This morning Susanne and I went to the hospital to visit our families there.

Upon our arrival, we found Seraj being happly carried by his father towards the children's ward. They both seemed very happy. Right away I saw Seraj has had his chest tube removed. After checking with the father, I learned that Seraj had an echo and the result were good; so they decided to take out the chest tube. The secondary ICU nurse told us that if Seraj's condition continues to improve then tomorrow they may transfer him to the children's ward for further treatment and observation.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much for your protection over Seraj. I pray for Yeshua's healing hands to keep working in Seraj's little body. I praise your wonderful holy name, Amen!!

Patience Through Obstacles

Posted on Wed, 03/22/2017 - 16:37 by Debbie Sturm
Today I went to visit Seraj and his father in the hospital. Seraj has a chylothorax. It means that because of complications during the surgery, the lymph vessel is leaking. For this reason he is on a diet now. In the next two weeks the doctors will see if the leaking stops by itself or if a second surgery is necessary to fix the lymph vessel.
Seraj's father has been in a very good mood today. He was joking all the time and stayed very patient even when Seraj did not want to drink any milk. He asked for a syringe and tried carefully to nourish his son with some milk. 

Please keep Seraj and his father in your prayers for patience.


From "Hafla" to Hospital

Posted on Tue, 03/21/2017 - 22:08 by Susanne Minshull

Today was the Kurdish New Year, and everyone here at the community was getting ready to have a party ("Hafla" in Kurdish) and celebrate. Seraj's father was busy cooking this morning, and laughed at some of us getting dressed up in Kurdish dresses. 

Unfortunately, (but luckily) I was not quite happy with Seraj's assessment this morning, and when I did another one an hour later his saturation had dropped. We brought Seraj to the hospital and, although he seemed well, they did an X-ray and an echo on him. The heart was fine, but he had fluid on his lungs that needed draining today and he was admitted. Seraj's father was understandably very frustrated, as Seraj does not like being in the hospital.  

My prayer request is that Seraj's father will find peace and realize it was a good thing for Seraj to come to the hospital, and that he will bring his frustrations and fears for his son to our God who understands all languages, even the unspoken.

Seraj Discharged

Posted on Mon, 03/20/2017 - 00:16 by Eva Markewitz

Seraj was discharged today! We welcomed a happy father and a beautiful-looking Seraj at our house in Jaffa. They joined us for lunch and enjoyed the company of the other families. In the afternoon, they went for a walk with the stroller to the beach, to get some fresh air and sun after this long time at the hospital.

The next echo will be on Monday the week after next. We are happy to have this duo with us again. Welcome back!


Making Progress

Posted on Thu, 03/16/2017 - 20:05 by Ruth Zellweger

Little Seraj is making progress day by day. And even though his father has not been sleeping well during their time in the ICU and Secondary ICU, he is very cheerful and relieved that his son is doing well.

Yesterday, we gave Seraj's father a much needed break. He came to our Jaffa home to rest, while Camila spent some hours with Seraj in the Secondary ICU. I saw them briefly and it was sweet to see them both interact with each other. 
Today, Seraj was moved to the ward around noon - another step towards complete healing. We praise God for his mercy on precious Seraj and his father, and are looking forward to their return to our Jaffa community.

Farewell to Being Blue!

Posted on Mon, 03/13/2017 - 20:24 by Susanne Minshull

Today I had my first ever visit to the hospital where I met Seraj and his father. I was able to use a little Sorani, and understood when his father said Seraj's toes used to be blue.  He was also happy about the transfer during the day to secondary ICU, since it means Seraj is progressing in his recovery.  I love the way Seraj uses his legs, and him holding on to my finger for a long time was precious.

The father was encouraged to sit and hold Seraj upright to aid his recovery, which is a bit scary with various tubes connected, but I believe will also lead to some close and precious moments.


Update on Seraj

Posted on Thu, 03/09/2017 - 22:37 by Paul Gerstmann

Today we checked in on Seraj and were able to talk with his doctor. He says Seraj is doing very well and maintaining good oxygen levels in his blood. They were able to extubate him earlier this morning with no complications and he is currently on a cardiac-supportive drug.

I was able to see him in ICU, and both his hands and feet had regained a healthy color. His father was very grateful and had much more peace over him. Hallelujah!