Sara's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

Precious Sara - In Loving Memory

Posted on Mon, 06/12/2017 - 03:57 by Ruth Zellweger


It is not easy to convey and share all the different feelings and emotions that Sara's parents and the members of our community have been experiencing these past weeks. There had been so many ups and downs, tears and worries, petition and thanksgiving, setbacks and improvements. Through all of this we had grown very close to little Sara and her mother. And when Sara was finally discharged this past Monday to return to her father in northern Iraq, we rejoiced with Sara's mother. Seeing the pictures of Sara's farewell party warmed my heart. Her mother was radiant, full of joy, delighting in her beloved daughter. 

This week, we were reminded once again of the fragility of life. There is not a second of our lives that we can or should take for granted. Tuesday evening, our Jaffa community sent off a little baby girl that was not yet completely healed, but well enough to travel. Wednesdayevening, Sara was back in Kurdistan, and already hospitalized again. Her father had welcomed both his wife and daughter at the airport in Kurdistan. Because Sara had been vomiting during travel, they went right away to have Sara checked by her local cardiologist. Even though the control echo cardiogram of her heart looked fine, he suggested that it would be better for Sara to be monitored in the hospital until she was doing better. By Thursday evening, Sara's condition had worsened, and a few hours later she had passed away. 

We are thankful that our co-workers in Kurdistan, John and Millie, had the opportunity to visit with the family and show them love them in a tangible way. Our community members in Israel did not have that opportunity, but we came to together to pray for them. We have put our trust in our heavenly Father, the Creator of life, and of little Sara. Even though we do not always understand His ways, we hold on to hope - the hope in the promise of the cross. 

"There is hope in the promise of the cross
You gave everything to save the world You love 
And this hope is an anchor for my soul
Our God will stand unshakeable"


We will keep precious Sara and her beautiful mother in loving memory.

Farewell, For Now

Posted on Wed, 06/07/2017 - 21:42 by Alexa Bigl

After Monday's final echo for Sara, we began preparing for her and her mother's departure back to Kurdistan. We soon had plane tickets secured and party planning in the works. 

Monday night we came together to celebrate the wonderful news that Sara is ready to return home. It's because of the Lord's mighty works baby Sara is alive and doing so well. In knowing this, we began our party evening with songs of worship. What a mighty and loving God we have; and His might and love are displayed through the continuation of Sara's beautiful life. After worshipping our Heavenly Father, we spent time telling Sara and her mom how much we love them. We had the opportunity to reflect on the weeks the family was here and the ups and downs of their journey. Many people shared how touched they were with how Sara's mother demonstrated her love for Sara. She spent countless hours by Sara's bedside, prayed continuously during their time here, and sacrificed everything she could to help her daughter. And with all this outpouring, Sara's mom still gave each volunteer and all the other families here love too. We also enjoyed sharing about how much we love Sara and her beautiful smile; we all enjoyes how as she healed her smile showed up more and more!
The call soon sounded at the neighboring mosque and it was time to eat. Despite that the party was in honor of Sara and her mom, Sara's mom was our chef. She made absolutely delicious food and it was a delightful meal eating all together. We also enjoyed a double dessert. We ate the first and then had the chance to present Sara with some gifts. She got some new baby toys and cute little dresses. Her mom received a new scarf, some jewelry and lotion, and a Bible. 
Over second dessert and tea we began watching the DVD of Sara's time here. The journey through her time here via the photos was eye opening. Sara's mom was crying by the end and we could all rejoice in the huge transformation of this little baby. From her first days here of being very blue and sickly to a difficult time with low oxygen after her first surgery. Then Sara had an urgent second surgery and again had a difficult recovery. But soon the photos were showing Sara was finally on the upswing and as she recovered her little personality blossomed. 
Due to her underdeveloped right ventricle, Sara was not yet able to receive a complete repair of her heart. Please continue praying with us for Sara's heart to grow, for her right ventricle to get to the point where it is ready to do its proper job. When this time comes, Lord willing, Sara will be invited back to Israel for her final repair. We ended the party by praying for Sara in all these things and lifting them up in a final song of worship. 
Last night we had our wave-off as Lindsay and Helen brought Sara and her mom to Ben Gurion Airport. Another praise came back from that crew; all went smoothly! Thanks to the Lord for the testimony of His sovereignty through Sara! 

Time to Go Home!

Posted on Mon, 06/05/2017 - 21:54 by Rebekah Yang

This morning we took three families back to the hospital for echo follow-ups: Sara, Armanj and Maryam.

Due to there being a long queue of SACH kids already there, we had to wait more than 3 hours to start our exams. Praise God, most of the time Sara was sleeping very calmly and peacefully.
At 1:20pm, the echo room called Sara for her turn. It did not take too long for the technician to finish Sara's echo. Afterwards, Dr. Alona was happy and announced that Sara was officially discharged to return home to Kurdistan!
Because the heart surgeons were only able to do a partial repair of Sara's heart defect this time, she will need to return after one year when her right ventrical has grown bigger. Then she will have a second surgery to finished the repair.
First we want to thank you through all of your prayerful support. It is a miracle that our precious Sara has been sustained this far, and can keep going to the next stage. I would like to ask you to continue to join us in praying for Sara's return. Please pray for both Mama Sara and Sara to have renewed strength and to enjoy their time back home until God's timing brings them back to Israel for part two.


Posted on Thu, 06/01/2017 - 17:49 by Helen Byler

Sara had an appointment this morning at the hospital to check her weight again. We left the house at about 10am, and we were home by 11! Simone and I took Sara and her mom to the hospital, and they took her to be weighed right away. She cried a little when they weighed her but was quickly back to her cheerful self once her mom picked her up and dressed her again. We were all excited to see that she has gained weight since her last appointment! It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to be encouraging for her mom. 

Praise the Lord for this improvement! We rejoice with Sara and her mother. Please continue to lift them to God for his healing grace over Sara.

Weigh To Go

Posted on Tue, 05/30/2017 - 03:03 by Brenda Hofer
Sara and the rest of the Shevet kiddos getting echos today had to unfortunately wait a few hours to have their tests preformed since we were the last group to get in. Everyone was in good spirits though. Sara seemed to be just doing fine once we got into the exam room. But for some reason once it started, she did not like the tech using the wand on her chest and tummy. Sara let everyone know that she didn't like it either. Her mom was able to gently calm her down and for several minutes Sara was in a good mood. It seemed though to turn back into to tears and crying a little later finally losing her patience with all the activities going on around her. After many minutes later the test was completed. 
It was very nice being able to speak to the mom in English since she has a good understanding of the language. She was obviously concerned about the results asking me what they were. I told her we would check with the tech once she came back into our room. The  The tech announced that the echo was good, but they said they still wanted to see Sara next Monday for a follow-up echo.
So, we packed our things and headed down to the children's ward to have Sara weighed. Mom had dutifully written down Sara's weight and other pertinent information that the doctors had asked her to do last time she was at the hospital. The doctor in the children's ward the progress was good. They also weighed her and even though she didn't lose any weight she did not gain any either. The doctor said though she couldn't send Sara home weighing so little as she is now. The doctor said to bring Sara on Thursday to do another weigh in. So in essence, Sara and mom have a little way to go before they can return home to Kurdistan. 
Please lift up your hands and hearts in prayer for this lovely baby girl and her sweet mother. May they see the Lord's handiwork in their journey here. May they know His comfort and His every-steady hand in their lives.

Needing to Gain Weight

Posted on Thu, 05/25/2017 - 22:31 by Helen Byler

Alexa and I went with Sara and her mom to the hospital this morning for Sara to have a weight check-up. It was a long morning for Sara; we had to wait for a while before and after they weighed her. But Sara’s mom spent some time visiting with the other moms in the children’s ward, and Sara had a nap.

The doctor reported that Sara has lost weight, which is not great news. She has been eating well and doesn’t have any symptoms of a virus, so the doctor said that we shouldn’t be worried and she’ll start gaining eventually. But her mom was very discouraged by the news. Pray for Sara and for her mom, that Sara would gain weight and that we could encourage her mom while she waits for Sara to heal!  


Second Time

Posted on Mon, 05/22/2017 - 19:12 by Rebekah Yang

When Helen and I reached the hospital this morning, I went straight away to the children's ward to look for both of our Shevet babies - Sara and Armanj. I could not find them at first, but then Dr. Dafy told me that they went to the echocardiogram department for echo follow-up.

I spent quite some time there in order to wait for the doctor to finish Sara's echo. Around lunchtime time, Dr. Sagi gave the green-light for Sara to go back to our Shevet community again.
Since this is the second time Sara has been released from the hospital within just a few days, Dr. Dafy tried very hard to educate and encourage Sara's mum to hold baby Sara in the upright position while she is feeding Sara. They had discovered an infection in her lungs, and therefore upright feeding is very important. Both the doctor and I repeated this to her a few times to make sure she understood the importance of it. 
Currently, Sara is also going to have a caloric baby formula to give her extra nutrition. Please join in our prayers for our little fighter Sara. We pray that she will be settled in our Shevet community this time. May both mum and Sara find their rest and renew their strength until next Monday's echo follow-up. 

Problems Feeding

Posted on Sun, 05/21/2017 - 23:51 by Simone Escalante

Today Marilyn and I teamed up to visit our babies in the hospital. Our first baby was Sara, who recently returned home but because she was vomiting after she nursed and was also hyperventilating. So, she was admitted to the hospital again and still has serious difficulties when it comes to feeding.

One of the doctors who went from bed to bed with his students asked that Sara's mother tried once again to give the bottle - in her presence - so they could observe the problems she is having.

Although Sara feels very hungry, she has not been able to suckle enough and there is very little she can feed and keep without vomiting. This same doctor gave several tips to improve her physical position when feeding, and the ideal bottle type. But the cause and treatment still needs to be ascertained by the doctors. Remember that we have a God who is the doctor of all doctors and who has known Sara since before she was formed in the womb of her mother, so we can pray and trust in our God.

A Brief Time

Posted on Fri, 05/19/2017 - 23:27 by Alexa Bigl

After yesterday's joyful homecoming to our Shevet house, Sara and her mom spent some sweet time with the other families here. Many of the mom's, like Halat's in the photo below, jumped right in to give Sara a snuggle. 

This morning around 7am, Sara's mom let us know she was concerned. Sara was crying nonstop and had thrown up. After trying some different things to help Sara like positioning, medicine, and different milk, she was still throwing up, not eating, and very uncomfortable. We called the hospital and headed over to Wolfson. Sara was admitted due to a fever and fast breathing in addition to the issues we had been seeing at the house.
After a bit of a trial we got an IV set for Sara. The blood tests looked OK. Sara was then started on IV fluids and got a chest xray. We will have to wait for the results but we suspect a viral infection of the GI system. 
Please pray for Sara and her mom. The ups and downs of the past 24 hours are trying and both mother and daughter are exhausted. Last night was filled with little sleep and we pray they can both get some rest this afternoon and evening. May the Lord strengthen and heal, amen. 

Back with Our Jaffa Community!

Posted on Thu, 05/18/2017 - 23:49 by Rebekah Yang

This morning just before I arrived at Wolfson hospital, I got a call saying our little Sara can come back to our Shevet home. Wow, what wonderful news! Praise God!

When I entered the children's ward the nurse from the station told me to wait while they finished the blood test for Sara. Afterwards I learned that Sara's blood test result was good, therefore she can be released to go back our Jaffa community center.
At the moment, Dr. Dafy says Sara needs to gain more weight and have a higher nutrition intake. So she has prescribed a caloric formula to help her to put on weight.
Please pray for both Sara and her mum as adjust back home after such a long hospital stay. And pray for her ongoing healing process, too. Thanks so much for continuing to pray and support our precious Sara and her mum. May our God use them to be another wonderful testimony of his mighty name, amen!