Amer's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

A Happy Boy

Posted on Fri, 11/03/2017 - 14:56 by Lindsay Martin
Last night we said goodbye to one of our most precious little boys here at the house, joyful Amer. It was a beautiful farewell as we could rejoice in seeing the healing hand God has placed on his heart. 
From the very beginning, and even through the surgery, this boy has been so full of joy and love. And it was a blessing to be able to join with him and his mother as we celebrated his new heart. 
We joined together for a night of worship and singing, dinner, dessert, gifts, and ending with a beautiful compilation of photos reflecting on their time here with us. 
Amer loved receiving so many fun toys and the attention from all of our staff as he made his way around the room, greeting each one of us and taking a little bit of food from each of our plates. What a blessing that Amer can go home with a healed heart and healthy appetite. 
We praise God for this beautiful boy and his mother who have become part of our family here. We pray for continued protection and strength for Amer and that He will grow to know the great God who has performed this amazing miracle in his life. 

Amer's Final Echo

Posted on Sun, 10/29/2017 - 21:00 by Alexa Bigl

We headed to Sheba today with smiley Amer for his final echo. He was very excited to play on the toys and with the other children there.

Amer was full of smiles and laughs during our waiting game periods. After Amer got his ECG and weight, we headed in for the echo. He defintiely does not like the examination table, but finally calmed down with his favorite youtube video, choni Johnny. 

The small amount of fluid around his heart is now gone and Amer's medication was be weaned very the next week and then he can be completely off medicines, praise the Lord.
The doctors can see Amer's pulmonary arteries are quite small. We are hopeful as Amer grows that these arteries will also grow. But it is also possible the arteries will remain too small, increasing pressure on his right ventricle that will require an intervention catheterization. This cath would dilate the arteries and fix the problem. Unfortunately, Amer is too small to do this procedure now. However, the team at Sheba remains hopeful it will not be necessary for Amer to return to Israel in 6 months for this cath and that the arteries do indeed grow alongside him. His follow-up at home will be very important and we are praying for wisdom for his cardiologist there, Dr. Kamal. 
Amer's mom knew about his small arteries already so was not surprised by the news, but stayed positive. 
Overall, the news is good. Amer's surgical results are fantastic and we are so pleased he can return to Kurdistan later this week! Thank you for your continued prayers!

Amer Returns to Jaffa

Posted on Sun, 10/22/2017 - 20:52 by Alexa Bigl

Sweet Amer is fully back to himself, sharing smiles and laughs with all those around him. On Friday, he finished his antibiotics and rejoined our community in Jaffa. He is doing fantastic, on only one medication, and recovering very well. He has an echo scheduled for this coming Thursday. 

On Friday, before leaving Sheba, we enjoyed playing with a balloon and with bubbles. Amer found reasons to laugh over every little thing and it was beautiful to see his zeal for life fully back. Just like before surgery, Amer walks short distances and does not yet talk. We are praying his walking distances increase and he begins talking in the near future. His mom is hopeful and positive that with time her son will catch up with the other kids his age in these areas. 
We are blessed by having Amer and Mom back with us, as they light up our house and carry great joy around with them. Amer was very excited to see his friend, Lionel's aunt, hugging her as they entered the house. After 27 days in the hospital, as Amer's mom carefully recorded, we are delighted to see how the Lord will continue His healing work back in Jaffa! 

Amer Moved to the Ward

Posted on Thu, 10/19/2017 - 23:37 by Coby van Wijhe

This morning when we visited Amer they just wanted to do an x-ray. Amer was worried about it, but it went okay.

After the x-ray, Amer was moved to the ward. The nurse needed some information about the family, which I was able to give her.

Amer is still on an antibiotic IV for another day. Tomorrow we will know if he will be discharged on Friday or Sunday. Amer's mom is doing fine but very much looking forward to returning to the Shevet house. 

Praying Against the Pneumonia

Posted on Sun, 10/15/2017 - 21:09 by Coby van Wijhe

When we arrived this morning at the hospital, we met Amer's mom in the echo area with Amer in the baby stroller. They had just come back from the echo. Amer's mom was hoping to go home to the Shevet house if the echo was okay. But sadly it was too soon for that. Amer will be on IV antibiotics for five more days and so he has to stay in the hospital for now. Amer looked good but when the doctor wanted to check him, he cried and wouldn't cooperate on the bed, so the doctor checked him in his baby stroller. Apart from the pneumonia infection, he is doing fine and looks much better than when we saw him last time. Please pray that the antibiotics will take away the infection and that Amer can leave the hospital by the end of this week!

A Cheerful Mood

Posted on Thu, 10/12/2017 - 16:08 by Dayo Martin

Today's visit with Amer went very well. He and his mother were in very good spirits and he was constantly smiling and laughing. We tried to feed him some grapes and he did not want to eat them but he had a lot of fun throwing them at his mother and me! She was very glad to see him in such a cheerful mood. The nurses did not have much information to give me but say he is recovering well and if he continues to improve it should not be long before he is able to return to our house at Shevet. 

Amer's Transferred Out of ICU

Posted on Tue, 10/03/2017 - 22:19 by Alexa Bigl

**Update, October 4, 2017**

Amer drank plenty of milk yesterday, so he was able to have the IV feeding stopped! He is eating fully by mouth now and continued improvement is obvious. His mom was very encouraged by this step. And because he no longer needs the TPN the hospital staff were able to take out the IV in his neck, which was very uncomfortable. Since Amer's blood pressure has remained stable off the medications for a day, his arterial line was also taken out. Thank you for your prayers in these areas!


I walked into the ICU today looking for Amer and was very surprised when the nurses greeted me and said Amer had been transferred out of the ICU. I went over to the ward area and soon found Amer and his mother. Today, Amer's blood-pressure medication was stopped, he is not on any supplemental oxygen, and they hope to stop the TPN (IV food) in the evening. Please be praying for this step. The nurses wanted to see Amer drinking a specific amount of milk this afternoon before discontinuing the IV feeding, and it's important to get Amer off the IV feeding because there is a high risk of infection with it. 

Amer's mom is doing very well. She says sleeping is difficult in the hospital, but she remained with a smile on her face and diligently and lovingly cared for Amer during our visit. The care of her son is quite demanding at this point. Amer is very frightened of all the hospital staff and is scared each time he is approached there will be pain. He is also quite uncomfortable due to his multiple IVs and arterial line. Please pray he can receive peace and healing, that he will soon be out of pain and less frightened, and that he and his mom can somehow find good rest. We are so thankful for the good progress and can see the Lord's hand of healing over Amer; all praise to the King of Kings. 

Amer is Extubated

Posted on Sun, 10/01/2017 - 22:30 by Coby van Wijhe
Dear sweet Amer has had a few difficult days. He was still intubated when Ben and I saw him this morning. I stayed with him while the nurse washed him and took care of him so Mom could eat her breakfast. This afternoon when we saw him again, he was extubated but still asleep. He has a temperature of 38.2* C (100.7* F). They performed an ECG twice.
If tomorrow he is still asleep more tests will be needed. Mom is so good and stays with him all the time. She has problems with her smart phone, but Ben worked to solve the problems. Please pray that soon he will wake up and that his temperature goes down.

Day 1 Post-op

Posted on Thu, 09/28/2017 - 23:18 by Alexa Bigl

Today's visit of Amer in Sheba's ICU shed some light on why yesterday Amer and our Shevet team needed to wait 4 hours after his surgery was finished before seeing him in the ICU. Amer had experienced post-operative internal bleeding. So, the ICU team had been unsure if Amer would need to brought back to surgery to stop the bleeding or if other interventions would do the job. In the end, Amer did not need to return to surgery. Amer's mom told me the surgeon stayed with Amer until 11pm last night to ensure he would be ok. Due to the bleeding, Amer's blood pressure was quite unstable yesterday and last night. But today is a new day and Amer's nurse had a much better report. With the bleeding stopped and the help of supportive medications, Amer's blood pressure had been stable all day today. They started him on a diuretic medication and Amer has began producing urine again today also. Due to the high support he is receiving via the medications, the team is unsure when Amer will be ready for extubation.

They are quite encouraged by the progress seen today, but things will continue being taken day by day. Tomorrow exams and tests will be done and continual monitoring will all determine how much and how quickly the medications and ventilator settings can be decreased. Amer's mom understands it will take time and we are in prayer for steady progress. 

In addition to praying for his blood pressure and extubation please also be praying for Amer's heart. Like with every child undergoing cardiac surgery, the first couple days post-op are vital. This is when the cardiologists get a first picture of how the child's cardiovascular system will respond to the surgical repair. Amer had an echo today but the results were not ready when we were there speaking to the Sheba team. The surgeon did report a good outcome of the surgery yesterday, but please pray for Amer's little heart and body to adjust well to the big change. May the Lord bring healing to Amer and peace to his mother. Thank you for praying alongside us. 

Amer's Surgery

Posted on Wed, 09/27/2017 - 21:59 by Ben van Wijhe

Today was the big day for Amer. We saw him being rolled away to the Operating Room, and mom was able to accompany him a little further. She came back full of tears. Fortunately there were two other Kurdish women who had gone through this experience before. Still it took some time before she was comforted. After about three and a half hours, the surgeon came out. He was pleased with the result and the heart was functioning properly now. Then the waiting started. It took 4 more hours before we finally could see Amer in the ICU.

His mother was pleased to see him. All this time she was anxious, but I was able to talk to a relative at home in Kurdistan in English, who explained the situation in Kurdish to her. We needed 3 phone calls in total to keep her updated. Now Amer needs to rest and recover. Thank you, Lord! Please be praying for Amer's recovery, and for his mother to find peace.