Rasan 's Heart Surgery

northern Iraq

Visiting Rasan's Family At Home In Iraq

Posted on Sun, 05/17/2009 - 01:00 by Donna_Petrel

It was a great joy to go visit Rasan and his family at their home the day after he and his mother returned to Iraq. After staying with us in Israel for about 10 months, we were all like a family to one another, and Rasan's mother told me many times how hard it would be to leave us because she loves us so much. We cherish these friendships too, and visiting the family in Iraq gave us a broader foundation as well as another level of relationship which includes extended family. Rasan is pictured above with his uncle, and below with his grandmother and mother.

That day as we met Rasan's family and were lavished with thanks from grateful hearts, we had opportunity to discuss with attentive listeners how the love of God has made our paths cross.

When we arrived, Rasan's grandmother and aunt were there to greet us, along with Rasan's big brother, San. We also met other sisters and brothers-in-law. Four-year-old San seemed to be indifferent to us guests for the most part, understandably wanting his mother's attention foremost. He was lovable towards Rasan while in the room with us, but the family shared that he is jealous - understandably so - for his mother's attention, and somewhat angry with her for being gone so long. He was quite delighted however that his mom brought him something special he'd asked for--roller blades--and he focused on skating through the house much of our visit.

While Rasan's mother was with us in Jerusalem, she promised a huge meal for us if we were able to visit, and was disappointed that she could not cook such a meal while we were there on this trip. For our part we did not expect such a meal, and were satisfied with the delicious snacks we were offered while seeing our dear friend at home, and meeting her family. We kept this visit relatively brief so the family could see their newly-returned loved ones, and so Rasan's mother could get back on a routine at home. (Follow this link to watch a video clip of Rasan waving goodbye.)

Even as we left, more visitors were arriving to join in welcoming them back.

I spoke with Rasan's mother again before I left Sulaymania, and found that Rasan had pulled out his feeding peg, and it had been re-inserted at home. The situation left his mother feeling uncomfortable about whether everything was okay, so we arranged for her to see a doctor to follow up for Rasan. Since returning to Israel, we've spoken again several times. We will be sending more of Rasan's special formula over with our Iraq liason when he visits, and have discussed what is needed.

Just last night in a phone call Rasan's mom informed us that Rasan has had a fever, and she wondered if they caught the flu on their way home. There is also the possibility that finally having his first tooth emerge has caused some of the symptoms though, so we're hopeful this is the case. At this time Rasan is still not eating by mouth, and Um Rasan is feeling frustrated by how slowly the process is going for him to learn to eat solid food.

Please keep Rasan and the rest of the family in your prayers. Rasan's father had to be away from home while we were there, somewhat delaying the adjustment period to normal for all of them. For now it is a more than full-time job for Rasan's mother to care for Rasan and his big brother, but she sounded like she was not too discouraged. God has provided so much for them already, and He knows how to answer all of our prayers for their needs. It is our desire that He will answer them all in a glorious way.

Rasan Goes Home

Posted on Tue, 04/28/2009 - 07:50 by Justin_Strong

We said goodbye to Rasan and his mother on Saturday afternoon as they boarded a plane bound for their home in Iraq. They had stayed in Israel for nearly one year for Rasan's many surgeries and physical therapy.

Before they left Israel I took them with Bruska to the Jerusalem Zoo for one last outing. We strolled around enjoying the birds, monkeys, bears, and elephants. Rasan was his typical happy self, occasionally noticing the animals around him but mostly just happy to be alive, smiling and enjoying the attention of anyone making eye contact.

Rasan's mother acquired a great deal of luggage over the course of the year, so getting all of her things over the border, along with Rasan who needs constant supervision, was no easy task.

But we made it across into Jordan eventually and were at the Shevet house in Jordan late in the evening.
The next day we took them to the airport and checked them in.

The airline took all of her medical supplies as well as everything else she had with her at no extra charge (a small miracle). We bid them a cheerful goodbye, and enjoyed one last frantic two-handed wave that Rasan has been working on.

Rasan's mother has been a tremendous help to us at Shevet. It is difficult to imagine life here without her. She has helped comfort and encourage well over a dozen mothers who have come and gone during her time here. She has been a valuable resource to us in translating as she speaks English in addition to Arabic and Kurdish. Rasan has been a very demanding patient, typically with at least one new appointment each week, and has needed almost constant supervision. The Jerusalem house will certainly feel different with both of them gone.

Rasan and Bruska, who also flew home on Saturday, are children who are still works in progress. They both go home with healthy hearts, but with other challenges still to be faced: Rasan with learning to eat after cleft palate surgery, and Bruska with the challenge of what we pray will be overcoming the effects of cerebral palsy which has left her legs crippled for now. Though they are back home, they will still need our prayers now as much as ever, as they continue the gradual processes of growing and healing.

Welcome Back!

Posted on Mon, 03/23/2009 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

This evening we had the pleasure of welcoming a happy little Rasan back to the house in Jerusalem. After dismissal from the hospital a few days ago, Rasan and his mother went to visit some friends in the Tel Aviv area for several days. He returned to us with a new skill, as he has now perfected waving goodbye. He got so excited while playing earlier this evening he was waving with both hands - very cute!

Rasan is doing well as he continues to learn how to eat following his cleft palate surgery. It is a very slow process, however, and Um Rasan is wondering just when there will be completion of what is needed here so she and Rasan can get back to their family in Iraq. Will you please pray for continued patience and perseverance for Um Rasan?

Thank God with us for how far Rasan has already come from the time we met him - a tiny infant who last summer almost didn't make it through his heart surgeries. The strength and joy in him now is a testimony to how well he's progressed so far, and we believe that God will complete what He has begun in Rasan's life.

Happy Back In The Ward

Posted on Tue, 03/10/2009 - 00:00 by Dorothy_Finlay

What a delight it was to see Rasan back in his bed in the ward all looking remarkably 'normal'. He took a minute or two to recognise me as I had not seen him for nearly two weeks. Then he tried a weak smile. Rasan's Mum was also delighted with his progress. Apart for a little swelling around his mouth, he had no pain and was trying to talk. He waved me 'good-bye'.

Um Rasan is expecting for them to be home just as soon as they can establish him on an oral feeding regime. Please pray that this will be a quick development and he will be able to suck and enjoy food through his mouth for the first time in his life. How we praise the Lord for this wonderful, complete little boy and thank you for continuing to lift him and his dear mother before our heavenly Father.

Cleft Palate Surgery Went Well

Posted on Mon, 03/09/2009 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

When Kirsten and I arrived at the hospital this morning Rasan was still sleeping soundly and Um Rasan was gathering all of their belongings in order to move into the ICU after his surgery was finished. Soon the nurses came to take him by transport to the operating theater which is in another building on this large hospital campus. Once we arrived there and all the orders for his surgery were checked, there was another pacemaker evaluation in order to change the setting before the surgery. When this was done, we waited a bit longer while the doctors performing the cleft palate and the circumcision consulted, and at last Rasan was carried to the operating room in his mother's arms.

Um Rasan expressed gratitude and courage mixed with a mother's typical anxiety over her child's surgery as we waited together. She is tired after the many months of caring for precious Rasan, while at the same time inspired to persevere knowing this is the 'home stretch' in the process of healing the different needs of her little son's body. We enjoyed chatting together while we waited just over three hours, during which time one of the surgical attendants came to tell us that all was going well, but it might take a little longer than we'd first been told since the surgery started later. Yet just after noon - the expected completion time - the surgeon for the cleft palate repair, Dr. Mendez, came to tell us the surgery was done and was an excellent surgery. He said that everything about the surgery went well, and Rasan would be in the recovery room shortly. Um Rasan was overflowing with thanks, and asked a number of questions. Dr. Mendez told us that Rasan would be in the ICU at least one day, and could have only liquids for a number of days. He explained that with the new structure of his palate, Rasan had a smaller opening in his throat through which to breathe, and that this would require an adjustment for him. He told us that he would know more about Rasan's ability to begin to eat once he saw how his healing progressed. This seems to be the target for our prayer focus: that the healing of Rasan's palate would go well. He will graduate from liquids to foods like yogurt, and then, slowly, over the course of the next two to three weeks, should be able to eat solid foods. For now the feeding peg in his stomach is still in place until such time as he will no longer need it.

Once in the recovery room with Rasan, Um Rasan was a bit unsettled by how much pain Rasan was in as he awoke from his anesthesia. It was necessary for him to be medicated with only local anesthetics as he came out from under the anesthesia used for the surgery, and even though this included a tube in his nose for medication to be applied to his throat, he was clearly uncomfortable.

The pacemaker technician came back in to re-set Rasan's pacemaker following the surgery, and all of his vital signs were good as the nurse attending him continued to monitor him. It was necessary for Rasan to be observed for two hours in the recovery room, and during this time it became necessary for Kirsten and me to leave the hospital in order to escort a Gaza patient home from Wolfson Hospital. Rasan was beginning to settle down with his mother's loving attention and encouragement as we were leaving, and I promised to call later to check on them.

I called this evening after we returned home to discover that on his way to the ICU from the recovery room Rasan began vomiting, and had to return to the recovery room. He was observed for an additional half hour, and then moved to the ICU. He was still crying alot, and Um Rasan sounded tired. Thankfully our friend Gigi was there to help her through the evening. Tomorrow she will have the encouragement of another special friend as Dorothy goes to spend time with them. In the meantime, let's pray that both Rasan and his mother will get some rest tonight. He cannot have his pacifier or bottle or the stomach tube feedings, only liquids by syringe, so will likely have a difficult few days making this adjustment while the palate heals. Thank you for continuing to uphold this little one in prayer through the process.

Heading Happily to the Hospital

Posted on Sun, 03/08/2009 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

Today we left Jerusalem for admission for the last part of Rasan's treatment in Israel, his cleft palate repair and circumcision, which will be done in the morning at Tel HaShomer Hospital. Um Rasan was thrilled, and Rasan was delightfully happy as we made our way through the hospital and waited our turn for his pacemaker evaluation to be done as part of the admission process. He only whimpered for a moment when approached by a medical person -- which he's figured out usually means some unpleasantness is on the way -- but once the technician herself arrived and was dressed in streetclothes, he was fine with the procedure.

Following this check-up Rasan was admitted to a room until his surgery in the morning. We were thankful to learn he would be the first surgery of the day, and hope to make it to the hospital to wait with Um Rasan until he comes back to the ICU. The nurse helping with admitting Rasan today said we should expect him to be in the ICU for several days, during which time his digestive tract will be emptied so that he can begin trying to eat by mouth as he recovers from the cleft palate surgery. As he is able to eat, the feeding tube will be removed, and the feeding by mouth will increase based on Rasan's ability to handle it. Please pray for Rasan's surgery to be supernaturally successful and his recovery to be quick and complete, with no complications. Pray for Um Rasan to continue to have peace and joy as Rasan's healing becomes complete.

Preparing For Monday's Surgery

Posted on Fri, 03/06/2009 - 00:00 by Donna_Petrel

Early yesterday morning we left Jerusalem for Tel HaShomer Hospital for the pre-operative consultations for Rasan's long-awaited cleft palate repair surgery. Although it was a long process, all of the information was checked, and all of the papers were signed. Um Rasan was filled with thanks and joy and a sense of disbelief that the day was really coming when her son would be finished with everything needed to be whole and return to his home and family. Rasan, on the other hand, remembered that he does not always like people who wear green garments and come to poke and prod and examine him. He became very clingy to him mom after seeing about three different doctors, but as soon as the exam was finished, his cheerful demeanor returned. We all especially enjoyed time in the warm sunshine outside the hospital as we waited for Justin to return from his visit to Halo and Omed at Wolfson Hospital.

Rasan's surgery is scheduled for early Monday morning, and we got a call this morning updating us that his admission would be on Sunday rather than before the surgery on Monday. This means that Um Rasan is now busy preparing to head to the hospital for his surgery and recovery, and then her departure back to Iraq. When we returned to the house, everyone said they had never seen her so happy, and it is true that this once fear-filled mother has become able to focus on everything God has done for her, and has found a place of trust that had not been there before. This is a blessing for us to see, and we hope it will bear great fruit in her life and family. I can already see it directed towards the friends she encourages as they wait for their children's recuperation to be completed.

Keep surrounding Rasan and his mom with your prayers as they persevere during the home stretch, and we see how God answers all the prayers which have gone up on behalf of Rasan's precious life and future, and that of his family.

Cleft Palate Surgery Scheduled

Posted on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 00:00 by Dorothy_Finlay

Rasan and his mother have been having a little 'holiday' in Tel Hashomer hospital over the past 48 hours. Unfortunately, his PEG feeding tube came out of its position in his abdomen and needed to be replaced. This invovled six hours waiting in Paediatric Emergency Room last Monday night. Then yesterday he went back for another silicone tube to be inserted and a barium meal to ensure there were no abnormalities. While there today, Rasan was seen by the surgical team who have now scheduled him for cleft palate surgery on 9th March, with a circumcision thrown in to complete all that is necessary to send him home a healthy, restored little boy. (The last item was his mother's special request.) Pray all goes well and he soon recovers.

Cardiologist Okays Cleft Palate Surgery

Posted on Tue, 02/10/2009 - 00:00 by Dorothy_Finlay

Today I went with Rasan and his mother for a cardiology appointment, echocardiograph and ECG heart assessment. Dr Katz assured us that due to his history Rasan's heart was functioning very well considering the complications last year at the time of his original surgeries. He said that he had no objection to Rasan going forward for cleft palate repair surgery which will enable him to at last eat and drink normally. If successful this will mean the removal of the abdominal gastric feeding tube regime that he now has.

While at the cardiologist, I called Dr David Mendes, a plastic surgeron who is willing to operate on Rasan and tomorrow he will approach the Tel HaShomer hospital to make definite arrangements. As you can imagine after the long wait, his mother is very excited and a little bit nervous. Please pray that this final arrangement will not be aborted by some unforeseen complication. We as a team have been believing the Lord for definite results and today we are well on the way to success for which we praise Him.

Back To Tel HaShomer Hospital

Posted on Thu, 02/05/2009 - 00:00 by Dorothy_Finlay

About two weeks ago, Jonathan had taken Rasan to Schneider Children's Hospital for assessment by the gastroenterology department and several other departments. They said that there would be an answer that following Sunday. However, they called and said that they could not reserve an ICU room for the length of time needed for Rasan's aftercare, and cancelled the appointment for cleft palate surgery on the 8th of February.

Rasan and his Mum came with me to yet another appointment at Tel HaShomer hospital to see the plastic surgeon regarding his cleft palate. The outcome was that the surgeon promised to contact the only surgeon who does such corrective surgery and ask him to call me at Shevet. He did warn it could be several weeks as the Israeli elections interfered with normal surgical rosters.

I was so proud of his mother who, while disappointed not to have an immediate appointment for surgery, just grinned and set her heart for yet another wait. They will return next week for a cardiac reassessment in anticipation that the answer about the repair of his cleft palate will be "yes."

Rasan's mother was excited to see the staff and some patients in her 'old' ward, and they were both welcomed with great warmth. Everyone commented on how well and developed Rasan now was.

Please pray for them as the next few weeks will be very long. We trust the Lord for completion of the surgical process to enable them to return home.