Safa's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Celebrating Safa

Posted on Wed, 04/26/2017 - 15:05 by Alexa Bigl

Safa is safely home with his mother in Kurdistan. They arrived early this morning, praise the Lord! It was really touching last night during our wave-off as they drove away to the airport, all the mothers and fathers here had a special goodbye for baby Safa. Each parent came up to him and give him a little squeeze and kiss. Safa smiled sweetly at each of his adopted aunties and uncles before having to get strapped into the car seat. He and his mother, although here for only a short time, had become a dear and beloved part of our community. 

On Monday night, we celebrated them in a farewell party. After eating our meal together, we had an opportunity to share with Safa's mother a bit. We were happy to have the opportunity to tell her what a blessing she has been to us. She is a very calm and patient mother who endured a big trial during Safa's life. He was very sick and came to Israel just in time. His oxygen was very low and he was in great danger. The Lord's timing was perfect, however, and Safa received his life-saving surgical repair without issues. Safa's mother was in the hospital continuously by Safa's side without complaint. And once she was discharged from the hospital back to our Jaffa base, she began exuding her calming patience onto all around her. She quickly deeped her friendships with the staff and other parents; helping to ensure all the new families who recently arrived understood what was going on day by day. And of course, Safa! This adorable kiddo had us all wanting more and more of his beautiful smile. We are so happy to have had this family here with us, becoming part of our Shevet family.
Safa coming here and receiving his surgery was all thanks to the Lord. We celebrated His hand healing Safa by praising Him through songs of worship.
We also got to present Safa and his mother with gifts to show our appreciation and love towards them both. Sweet Safa enjoyed being presented with clothes, toys, and a new blanket. For Safa's mother, she received a Bible, scarf, and a beautiful hand-drawn portrait of her and Safa (thank you to our co-worker, Dany!). 
We completed the evening with a viewing of Safa's photo-DVD showing us the journey of his time here. From a sickly, blue child to the creamy and happy baby he now is. Safa surely did change a lot in the past 4 weeks. Father, we thank You for healing Safa's heart. And, Lord, thank you for the amazing staff at Wolfson who were used by You to allow baby Safa to become a healthy little boy; amen. 

A Day to Remember

Posted on Tue, 04/25/2017 - 00:26 by Camila Buitrago
During these last days, God has blessed our community with more families. And he has also blessed us when we have been able to see the children who have already finished their surgery and can return home safely. Today was the time to return for Safa. 
After waiting for almost three hours in the echo department, the doctor gave to us the great news. Safa's echo is good and he can return home to Kurdistan! His mother was very happy and after taking some pictures we walked quickly to the ward to share the joyful news with our other Shevet families.
Today Israel commemorated the day of the Holocaust. At ten in the morning, a siren sounded and for a minute the whole hospital stopped and all the people remained frozen in the hallways keeping silence. People from many parts of the world remember this day. I think we should not forget the ravages of war as it is also happening in Kurdistan and other parts of the world.
Today is a day to remember many events and it will also be an unforgettable day for Safa and his mom, who after several weeks away from home can return to meet their loved ones.

Nearly Home

Posted on Tue, 04/18/2017 - 17:40 by Rebekah Yang

This morning, David, Joseph, and I had the privilege of bringing Safa and his mum for his post heart-surgery echo check-up.

Praise God there was not a long queue waiting for us. Right away, Safa was ready to be called into his echo. The echo department technician finished Safa's echo within a few minutes and our sweet Safa did not cry. Instead, he used his big eyes to look around.

A little while later, Doctor Tamir came to review the echo results. He is pleased with Safa's echo and says it's a good surgical report. He also stopped a few medicines and sent us to the children's ward to do blood test and remove his chest tube stitches. It seems he maybe can be discharged after next week's echo follow-up.
Thanks to our mighty God, Messiah, who has been healing Safa's heart step-by -step up to now. Let's rejoice with Safa and his mum because Yeshua is good and His love and mercy endures forever, amen!

Closer to Going Home

Posted on Wed, 04/12/2017 - 21:00 by Co-authored

As of today, Safa is one echo closer to going home. There are no more problems with fluid in the lungs. Sometimes children are sedated and calmed with medication when crying, but today a bottle of warm milk was the only "medication" needed.

Safa had some adjustments to his medication, and after a lunch in the hospital garden with all the other families, he was back home with us again. Accompanying us today was a medical student who enjoyed spending a day with us at Shevet Achim. We are thankful to all the people who have heard about Shevet Achim and support and encourage us in various ways. Thank you also to you, reading this.  Continue to hold little Safa in your prayers.

Written by Susanne Minshull and Simone Zamora


Stronger Everyday

Posted on Sun, 04/09/2017 - 21:41 by Miriam Svensson
Two days ago, when I visited Safa in the hospital, he had an echo done that showed that there was no fluid left around his heart or lungs. The cardiologist told me that Safa was doing very well, but that he needed to stay a few more days in the ward. 
Today I was excited to see him again. He seemed to be very peaceful and content, although I was told he had been awake since early in the morning. Just as the mother had started eating her lunch we were called to go to the echo department. Safa did not enjoy the examination at first, but his mother played him some music and that made him calm down. His heart was looking good today as well, so he was cleared to come home with us!
While we were waiting for everything to get ready, I got to hold Safa for a while. It was sweet to have his warm little body resting in my arms. I softly sang some songs for him, and slowly his eyelids got heavier and heavier, until he fell asleep.
Thank you all for praying for our prescious little Safa. Most of all thanks to the Lord for making him stronger everyday!

A Little Angel

Posted on Wed, 04/05/2017 - 20:44 by Rebekah Yang

Last night before Seraj's farewell party, we learned that Safa's condition was good enough to be transferred to the ward. This morning when I went to the children's ward, I was told that Safa's mum had taken him for an echo check-up. So I went to the echo department and tried to find them. Right after I arrived, immediately I saw a happy mum carrying her baby back to the ward. It was our sweetie Safa and his lovely mum.

Afterwards, Safa was so hungry and cried for his milk bottle. Safa's mum went to get his special milk formula from the nursing station. Praise God, I had the privilege to feed Safa while his mum got a few hours of rest back at our Jaffa house. She was able to refresh herself, and enjoyed a Kurdish meal with the other families.
Safa was a such an easy and content little angel. When he finished his milk bottle, he fell asleep right away - not even one minute passed! Just by looking at Safa's adorable face, I felt so much love for him. 
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for your healing hands that have been working in our precious Safa's life, step-by-step. May he grow up remembering the grace you have shown in his life and to his whole family. In Yeshua's name I pray, amen!


Posted on Tue, 04/04/2017 - 22:15 by Miriam Svensson
After Carol and I arrrived at the hospital this morning Safa's mother accompanied us in to the ICU. Safa was sleeping peacefully, the monitor showing stable figures. The nurse told us that he was doing well and that the plan was to remove the chest tube and then transfer him to the secondary ICU.
We sat with Safa and his mother for a little while before it was time for the procedure, then waited outside until it was done. Then we followed them to the new room and made sure they settled there. Now Safa was awake and looked at us with his big beautiful eyes. I could see the mother was happy and content with her son's progress.
We are grateful to our Lord for holding sweet Safa in his hands, blessing him and helping him to recover!
"And He took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them and blessed them."
Mark 10:16

A Rosy Baby and the Blessing of Communication

Posted on Thu, 03/30/2017 - 22:27 by Co-authored

Eva Markewitz writes:

Wednesday morning, we took Safa's mother to the hospital to see her little son. She spent the night at our Shevet house since Safa was still under sedation. After some time of waiting in front of the ICU, the nurse told us that Safa is extubated and awake now. It was touching to see just how lovingly she was looking at her son's big brown eyes, and how he looked back at her, recognizing the face and the voice of his mother.

Together with us, she ate lunch and obviously enjoyed the company. She also made friends with some of the Gaza mothers. It's very nice how they interact and care for each other.

Praise God, Safa is doing better and better! It is such a joy to look into his rosy face, which is not bluish anymore!

Continued by Susanne Minshull:

Today, 2 Swedish nurses went to visit Safa and his mother in the hospital. We saw a lot of doctors around Safa's bed (doing their rounds) so we didn't enter. But Safa's mother came to us with tears running and clearly worried, calling her family while we were waiting to get some information. I was relieved to see Safa awake when we entered ICU, and to start explaining to the mother that the tube that worried her was a feeding tube and no problem. 

We were also told that Safa's heart echo was fine but that he had some fluids on the lungs and needed a chest drain. Safa's mother knew that one of our other children had the same thing happen recently, and I reassured her that a drain is not uncommon after heart surgery. She was very relieved. So much so that we could all have a nice lunch outside in a hospital playground area, where she also called her family again in a much happpier mood.

It was wonderful to see the change in her countenance, and to me it became very clear how much Shevet Achim means to the families; in us being the bridge to communicate. 

The other change, which I had not yet seen, was that the blue baby brought to us with the risk of sudden death, now was lying in bed with normal coloured skin, looking around to see what was happening. All this because people from all over the world want to serve our Great God in giving some of their time to serve Him at Shevet Achim. And it truly is a blessing to be here and see what God is doing.

Thank you, Lord, for the way you've preserved and blessed Safa! 


Safa's Improvement

Posted on Tue, 03/28/2017 - 22:10 by Rebekah Yang

It was a lovely morning shining brightly after our staff meeting, when I took a most enjoyable walk alongside Safa's mum back to the hospital.

After we entered the ICU, all the doctors and medical staff were gathering around the beds to make their rounds. Safa is still intubated with ventilation machine use, and he also has an external peacemaker in order to help stabilize his heart beat. Safa's mum was extremely worried to see all the monitors, machines, and lines put around Safa's little body. She became very anxious and wanted to know Safa's condition. After few minutes of waiting, her tears couldn't stop dripping.
I decided to approach Dr. Houri to ask about Safa's condition. He gave me very positive feedback saying Safa has been improving and is now stable. I told him Safa's mum was so worried and was in tears now. Then he kindly suggested that I take her out of ICU for some drinks.
Later on, I bought her to the children's ward and asked Aveen's father to chat with her while I went to make tea for them. Both of us assured Safa's mother that the doctor was very pleased with Safa's surgery and it was definitely a successful open-heart surgery. Eventually Safa's mum turned her tears to a smile - praise God.
Afterwards, we ate a lovely lunch in the outside playground before we returned to the ICU. I mentioned to his mother about the beautiful pink color of Safa's toes.
Pink skin and nails is a sign of healthy oxygen levels in the circulation. We typically see this after a successful heart surgery. She agreed with me and took a photo to show his family back home in Kurdistan, northern Iraq.
Please continue to lift your hands in prayer for both Safa and his mum. We are praying that tomorrow morning Safa's mum may able to see her adorable son extubated and opening his beautiful eyes to smile at his mum.

One Family

Posted on Mon, 03/27/2017 - 20:46 by Debbie Sturm

Today Safa had his surgery!

Ruth and I arrived at the hospital in the early morning. Safa was crying and his mother tried to quiet him down.

We had to wait for a while until we could bring Safa to the operation room. The doctors were really friendly and helped Safa's mother to quiet him down as well. 

When it was time to say goodbye to her son for the surgery, she started crying.

But after a few minutes she stopped crying and we went to visit Seraj and Naz. Although they both haven been discharged today, their parents decided to stay until Safa's surgery was done. We spent some time in their rooms, had lunch, and Safa's mother showed us family pictures. We also had the opportunity to talk to some families from other countries who stay in the hospital.

After nearly five hours we all went to the ICU to wait for Safa. But he did not show up for a long time. In the meantime, Aveen and her father arrived and were welcomed by the other families. Ruth went with them to thier examinations while I stayed with Safa's mother and the other families. The mother started to become anxious, so we decided to wait outside for a while, enjoying the sun.

After more than six hours, Safa finally came out of the OR. The mother was relieved and the parents started joking and laughing as they continued waiting for Safa's mother to enter the ICU to see little Safa. I was so impressed by the families who stayed the whole day in the hospital to support Safa's mother. It seemed like one family.

Finally, nine hours after we had arrived in the hospital, Safa's mother could visit her son in the ICU. Safa had to be reintubated upon arrival in ICU. He also has some sort of arrhythmia, of which they are not yet exactly sure which one it is. An external pacemaker is helping. But we are thankful that Safa is stable. Thank your for your prayers!