Lionel's Heart Surgery

Kurdistan, northern Iraq

A Ripple Effect of Praise and Glory

Posted on Thu, 11/16/2017 - 17:46 by Jonathan Chappell

Lionel and his aunt stayed with us for a few weeks after the doctors declared his heart healed and that he was discharged as a patient. This was good news indeed, but a local therapy center for children with Down Syndrome offered to spend time helping Lionel with physical therapy, and it was a joy to see his aunt sacrificially stay on longer so her nephew could benefit even more from his time in Israel.

But the time came for them to return home, and we were happy for the time they spent as a part of our Shevet family. For his farewell party, we were fortunate enough to host some of his extended family for food, songs, and the farewell slide show, which includes all the photos from his medical journey in Israel.

We had a camera crew join us as well to send them off to the airport. We all had our tissues to wave with, and Lionel's aunt waved from inside the van as they went off to the airport.

Thank you, Lord for this sweet family! May they be blessed as they return home with the stories of their experience here. We pray that these stories will cause a ripple effect of praise and glory for our Heavenly Father and the work He did in Lionel's life. 

Lionel's Final Echo

Posted on Tue, 10/24/2017 - 00:05 by Alexa Bigl

Lionel had his final echo at Sheba Medical Center this morning. His surgical results are very good, his cardiologist is pleased! The Lord has done a beautiful work of healing in this little boy. Lionel and his aunt were patient during the brief wait to be seen. After the echo was over, Lionel's aunt visited Zulaikha's mom for a bit. She came out crying, unsure if she would see her new friend again. 

On our way home, our co-worker, Yousef, played some special Arabic worship music and explained about the songs to Lionel's aunt. It was a very nice ride home and we were back at the house for a late lunch. 
As we were preparing emotionally and physically for Lionel to very soon be heading home to Iraq, the Lord had other plans in the making. It seems Lionel will stay in Israel for one more month. A school/therapy center in Jerusalem, which specializes in Down's Syndrome, will invest twice weekly for the next month in helping Lionel. They will provide a holistic group of therapies to help him develop and teach him to crawl. Our community friend, Racheal, has been the engine behind this. She is currently seeing what doors the Lord will open for Lionel being hosted by a family in Jerusalem for the next month. We are happy to see Lionel having this opportunity and excited to see the relationships the continuation of this journey will grow. Thank you for praying alongside us and for praising the Lord for working according to His good ways. He continues to challenge us and show us better ways and what a beautiful thing that is! May His blessed hand be continually upon Lionel.

First Post-op Echo

Posted on Tue, 10/10/2017 - 17:40 by Maxine Stuart

Lionel has been living at our Shevet house, and has been doing well since his surgery. Today Lionel and his Aunt went to Sheba Medical Center to have an echo and a blood test done. Shortly after we arrived to the hospital, Lionel had his blood drawn to check his electrolyte levels. It was painful, but the nurse was very kind, and Lionel did very well. We should receive the results at our next visit.

Then it was time for Lionel’s echo. Philippa went in with him and his mother, while I stayed outside because the echo nurse did not want overcrowding.

Lionel doesn’t usually cry, but he cried a lot during this echo, as I think his surgery scar is still tender. The doctor reported that Lionel is stable, his heart is looking good, that he should continue his current medication, and come back in 2 weeks for a final check-up. After that, he should be able to fly home if no concerns arise!

Lionel Discharged

Posted on Sun, 10/01/2017 - 22:47 by Coby van Wijhe

Sweet, happy Lionel looks so much better. Together with his aunt they share so much love and happiness.

We saw them this morning just as the medical staff were doing an echo. They noticed that his heart rhythm is irregular and they gave him captopril medicine. If the medication worked out well, they would allow him to come home to our Shevet house.

This afternoon we got a telephone call from the hospital that the medication worked and he was ready to come back with us! It still took a few hours waiting before we could bring Lionel and Aunt home. 

Tomorrow he has to return to the hospital, because he still has a pacer wire that goes to his heart which will need to be taken out. Sadly there was no doctor to do it before leaving today. Last week they did also a blood test to check if Lionel has Down Syndrome. His aunt is very anxious but we don't know the results yet. All the Kurdish moms will miss Lionel's aunt in the hospital.

She is so helpful to all of them. We thank God for the good recovery of Lionel and lift him before our Lord.

Resting in His Hands

Posted on Thu, 09/28/2017 - 23:14 by Lindsay Martin

Lionel had good news today as he was moved out of the ICU and into the children's ward! His aunt was glad to know that he is doing better as she has been constantly by his side and worried about his progress.

We were able to reassure her that he is doing well and she even had two visitors today which was encouraging for not only her but the others mothers there.

It was beautiful to walk in and see Lionel peacefully sleeping with the Bible above his head. It's such a beautiful picture of the peace we find in trusting the Lord. And Lionel is certainly resting in His capable hands.

The doctors would like to perform a test to see if Lionel has Down's Syndrome which will help the family to know better how they can care for him in the future.

Please pray for peace and rest for his aunt, who has only had a few hours of sleep since his surgery. Please also pray for his family as they wait to hear the results from the test.

We are thankful for Lionel's progress and continue to pray for God's hand of healing for this precious boy.

Extubated and Trying to Wake Up

Posted on Tue, 09/26/2017 - 22:43 by Coby van Wijhe

Little precious Lionel was trying to wake up when we arrived this morning. They had just extubated him. His oxygen​ went down from 3 liters/minute to just 1 liter/minute. The nurse gave him the medication through the aerochamber and did the check-ups.

Lionel's aunt was sad seeing him in this condition. We stayed with Lionel for a bit so she could have a break and eat a meal. She looked better when she came back. Please continue to pray for Lionel.

Praise God for a Successful Operation!

Posted on Mon, 09/25/2017 - 23:02 by Dayo Martin

When we saw Lionel's aunt today, she was nervous about his surgery but still in good spirits. He was taken into the operating room around 8:30 this morning. While we waited, his aunt talked and cried on the phone with the rest of his family back in Kurdistan. Waiting for news about the operation was difficult for her but was made better by the fact that she had Amer's mother there to comfort her.

Finally, at around 1pm, Lionel was wheeled back into the ICU. The doctor came by shortly to inform us that his surgery went great and all of the necessary repairs were made! His family was told by a doctor in Kurdistan that he may need two surgeries to fix his heart but luckily that is not the case. His aunt was so happy that she cried tears of joy! Praise God for a successful operation and pray for a quick recovery for Lionel so he can return home to his parents.

Lionel's Surgery Is On

Posted on Sun, 09/24/2017 - 22:43 by Alexa Bigl

After some back and forth about when Lionel would receive his surgery, Sheba called this afternoon asking us to bring Lionel to the hospital; his surgery is scheduled for tomorrow! His beautiful aunt was so happy for the news and quickly called Lionel's parents to let them know. After getting Lionel ready and their bag packed, Lionel and Aunt were ready to go. Lionel's aunt has become very close with Amer and his mother; when we were pulling away in the car Amer and his mother were crying as they watched their friends leaving. 

As we headed to Sheba, we enjoyed chatting about the other kiddos we have at the house and hospitalized. Lionel's aunt is so sweet and was saying the Lord knows all for each child. 
Our team at Sheba helped Lionel get admitted; including getting an x-ray and getting admission stickers printed.
Then the team waited a long time for a bed to be available for Lionel. It was not until quite late this evening the hospital finally finished the admission process for Lionel. But he is scheduled to be the first surgery tomorrow and we know the long wait will be a distant memory very soon. 
Thank you for lifting up Lionel and his aunt in prayer; may they feel comfortable tonight and sleep well at the hospital!

First Assessments at Sheba Hospital

Posted on Thu, 09/14/2017 - 03:39 by Coby van Wijhe

This morning Lionel went with his aunt to Sheba hospital for his initial assessments. After arriving at the hospital, he had an echo and saw the doctor. He did very well during the echo. Lionel has Down Syndrome, which can often be the cause of a heart defect.

After the echo, there was also an ECG and other routine check-ups. His aunt looked very well after him and gave him small bottles of milk in between. He looks so cute and smiles a lot. He is a happy baby.

His aunt is very nice and loves having conversation with us. When she realized I came from the Netherlands, she phoned her refugee sister who lives in the Netherlands right away. I had a lovely conversation in Dutch with her and was able to explain the situation about Lionel for her to translate to her sister.

The medical team will meet on Sunday to discuss his case and make a plan for surgery and treatment. Please pray for this little boy. He is three months old, and weighs only 9 pounds (4 kg). The heart operation is a risky one, so we need to cry out to our Heavenly Father for mercy. 

A Joyful Arrival

Posted on Fri, 09/08/2017 - 16:42 by Alexa Bigl

Lionel and his aunt have arrived in Israel! They were accompanied from Erbil, Iraq to Amman, Jordan by our community friend, Racheal, and then (alongside Amer and mother) made the second leg of their journey to Tel Aviv on their own. We were waiting for a long time at Ben Gurion Airport with no signs of the families, but upon calling Lionel's aunt we soon learned all was good. Everything had gone well at passport control and it was simply that one of the checked bags had been lost. The airport Lost and Found personel were extremely helpful and we soon had everything sorted for the bag to be delivered to our house in the coming days. 

While Lionel was a bit fussy when we first met him and also when he first went into the car seat, his aunt was all smiles and good cheer. She is a lovely lady who is going to be a blessed addition to our community! 
We got Lionel and his aunt settled into their new room at our house quickly. Lionel fell asleep and his aunt was able to call home and let family know everything was good. She is very organized with all of Lionel's reports and medications and is a bright woman. We are all excited to become close friends and family with her during their time here. 
Lionel had a tough time traveling and cried a lot, but is happy to be in a more stable, homey environment. He is eating well and his nap was peaceful. His little face is the cutest and our community members are all going to "fight" over snuggling time with him! 
Lionel has his initial assessment appointment at Sheba hospital on Wednesday morning. In the meantime, the small family will have a few days to rest and acclimate to Israel and our community. Praise the Lord for all His work in getting Lionel and his aunt to Israel!