Hey guys! I want to tell you a story…
My cousin’s daughter, Madi, was born with a congenital heart defect (CHD). Seeing my cousin suffer wasn’t the only reason I chose to work with PLC this summer, but it was a major one.
Madi’s fight for her life began the day she was born, and it serves as a constant reminder of how important my work is here in Iraq.
Madi (short for ‘Madison’) spent the past 9 months in the world-renowned Texas Children’s Hospital receiving constant care and, for the past 4 months, she has been kept alive by a “Berlin heart,” an artificial device that pumps blood for her heart until she can get a transplant, technology that does not even exist in Iraq. Since Madi began treatment with the Berlin Heart, her name has been at the top of the heart transplant list in Houston. Through all that has happened, I have seen the complexity of CHD and the importance of having a well-trained medical staff.
I’m happy to report that, on May 29th, Madi received a NEW HEART! And this past week, after over 220 days in the hospital, Madi is now at home and ready to start the life she is supposed to live.
Our family spent months in prayer for Madi, and now we’re rejoicing, grieving, and praying through all that has happened. Although God has brought Madi and her family far, their journey is by no means over.
I hope you can join me in the celebration of a saved life, realizing that this is how families all across Iraq are affected when their child is saved. To date, PLC has saved hundreds of lives and will continue to save more. But each child has their own story and their own friends and family who are deeply involved in their battle with CHD.
So, wherever you are, try to enter into their story; see, feel, and think as they do, and then thank God if you have healthy children and great healthcare! You can also join us in our battle to fund surgeries, build infrastructure, and raise awareness for Iraqi families who aren’t as fortunate as my own by giving toward our brand new Remedy Fellowship campaign—help us save 300 little lives!
“No longer will she have to struggle to catch her breath every hour of the day or feel like she can’t stand and play with her toys because she’s too tired. Our baby girl will get to experience what life is meant to be, not what it has had to be for the past 22 months.”
—Tabitha Fleak, Madi’s mom
January 19, 2012 by Cody · Comments Off
Ali was just brought out of the operating theater and into the ICU—with a mended heart!
The next 24 hours will be absolutely crucial for Ali, though. The operation was a complete success, but now we have to wait to see how his heart and the rest of his body will respond.
I ran into the ICU so I could take the above photo of Ali and show it to his mother. She was ecstatic to see her little boy!
Who knows what will happen next—Ali could be up walking around as soon as tomorrow!
Last week Hussein was given the official clearance to head back home to Iraq! He had a bit slower recovery than the other kids have and required a pacemaker to maintain the health of his heart- but he’s pulled through like a champ! Hussein and his family are excited about his healthy heart, but are also bearing a great weight of concern about the safety of their city in Iraq. Our partner staff in Jerusalem wrote about Hussein’s mother:
“She had an emotional departure from our house in Jerusalem two days ago, and it was obvious when we visited them last evening in the apartment here in Amman that her heart was still full of conflict about leaving the people and the place where Hussein had received the help he needed. She spoke of how wonderful the people are, that there are many good people in Jordan, and how thankful she is for the help they have received. And it is clear to those of us who first met her at the echocardiogram screening in October that the experiences they’ve had have changed the heart of both the mother as well as the son.”
“Hussein’s mother was quietly emotional during the time we spent together this day. They return to a very dangerous area of Iraq, and it is beyond the comprehension of most of us the extreme contrast she is experiencing at this time. While with us, she so enjoyed the freedom to go about the city and know she was safe… now she returns to the reality of a life I honestly cannot imagine. She was carrying so many things in her heart! I felt as we rode home from the airport it was as if a revolution was being birthed within her, one which perhaps represents the desires of many others in her nation who have not had the opportunity to experience the things she has. Please join me in praying for this beautiful mother and her son, and their family, as well as for the peoples in the land in which they live, to fulfill the good purpose God had when He created them.”
Two weeks ago Baveel came to visit us at the office. We lost electricity just before he arrived so understandably he wasn’t’ able to make the climb to our office on the 6th floor so we just met outside in the car. He’s recovering reasonably well from his surgery and looks super cool with his new hair style which he had done in Jordan! On the down side, he isn’t eating well and is quite underweight which is hindering him from reaching his full potential. He also needs to start building up his exercise tolerance; he had been spending the majority of his time indoors playing computer games. I explained the importance of eating well and being more active and gave him some ideas as to how to work on these things. I’m hoping that when we see him again next week that he will have his appetite back and that he’ll be playing less computer games and instead be playing much more outdoors with his friends. If you’re inclined towards prayer, lift up one for Baveel as he continues to recover.
The wait is over! Being the last of the Iraqi children who came over the border on December 31, 2007, Arya has now been admitted to Wolfson Medical Center for surgery scheduled for tomorrow morning, February 21st. The complexity of his heart condition and the severity of the operation necessitated the delay.
For Arya’s mother, the months of heartache while watching other children go into the hospital and subsequently return and leave for home was quickly becoming unbearable for her to behold. We are pleased to tell you that today, we saw Mom jumping for joy and speaking as clearly as she could in English, “I love you, I love you” as she stood in the pediatric ward smiling from ear to ear as she told us how God answered our prayers.
January 3, 2008 by Jeremy · Comments Off
Today it was finally time for Aras’ surgery. Accompanying an older child for their surgery is very different than going with one of the toddlers or pre-school aged children. Patients here are not given any sedation before they go to the operating room, so Aras was fully alert, and knew exactly what was about to happen, and couldn’t hide his fear in those final moments. Seeing him cry made his mother cry too. Seeing Diyka Aras’ distress as we walked out into the hallway, one of the medical personnel asked us to wait while she went to check on how long it would be before he would come upstairs. The answer we were given was that it would be a long surgery of about five hours.
Five hours later. Dr. Sasson, the surgeon who performed the operation, came by and told us that everything went very well. Diyka Aras was very relieved, yet as is always the case, she wasn’t able to be sure all was well until she saw her son for herself. When we saw two men wheeling his bed down the hall to the ICU, she cried and thanked God as we walked with them until they were inside.
At that time the phone calls began in order to give the family in Iraq the good news. We were able to go in to see Aras after about 45 minutes, and were told again that his surgery went very well.
Diyka Aras was telling thanking everyone for everything they’d done for her son. Your prayers and donations have been used by God to bring us to the life-changing time in Aras and his family’s lives.
November 8, 2007 by Jeremy · Comments Off
This is cross-posted from our partner Brothers Together’s site. We wanted you to hear this story so you could feel the gravity of the problem these famillies face.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Sister Died of Heart Disease
Filed by Donna Petrel
A sleepy Hussein arrived with his mother from the Save A Child’s Heart house this morning, along with Mustafa and his mother, for his echo and further tests. Yesterday Dr. Katz attempted to do an initial echo on Hussein, but none of us could settle him down enough for the echo to be done. Because it was late in a very long day, the doctor decided that waiting until today would be best for all of us, and dismissed Hussein to the SACH house. This morning Hussein was given a syrup to make him sleepy so he would not be distressed over the echo, and even though he arrived at the hospital already sleepy, this did not stop his fearful fretting for quite awhile. Yet when he finally fell asleep, he was peaceful during an hour-plus long echo by several doctors who were discussing his complicated case as they went through the examination. Hussein awoke before the end of the exam, and Dr. Tamir spoke to him gently about helping him grow up to be a big boy, which seemed to settle him back down so the exam could be finished to the doctor’s satisfaction.
During today’s exam when Dr. Tamir took some family information about Hussein, his mother told of the death of an older daughter who also apparently had heart problems. She told of how the doctors in Iraq could not help her after she was admitted to the hospital at the age of nineteen, and so after four months, the daughter died. She had shared with me in Amman that one of her children died, but she did not tell me the details. After hearing this today, it helped me realize why she is so anxious to know whether Hussein will be able to have surgery or not.
Later in the day as Hussein still waited at the hospital, this usually shy boy was content to go to the children’s playroom where they were making balloon animals. He also enjoyed playing with his friend Mustafa and visiting with Hedi in his room there. It was determined that both Hussein and Mustafa could return to the SACH house for the night, and come back for more testing later in the week. Tomorrow we hope to visit them there. Please keep praying for Hussein and his mother as they wait for the surgery which will give him a new heart, and give joy to the heart of his dear mother.
Today Buy Shoes. Save Lives. was just one degree of separation away from the First Lady of Iraq. This is one very good thing about media here: if you know someone high up at a media office, they are inherently close to the most important people in the country.
So today we pitched Buy Shoes. Save Lives. to two different people who “know” the First Lady. I leave it up to you to guess what that actually means for us. I currently have no idea.
The First Lady is well-known for her organization, Save the Children. It was all but guaranteed that she could at least expedite the visa process for children we send abroad. That is no small thing, as we currently know of two children who need medical care but are held up in process for a visa.
But there’s also potentially funding available – and I’m hopeful she would like the idea of us creating one of the first non-oil Iraqi exports.
So, if you are one who prays, please do so tonight, asking God to make this a networking opportunity that does not fall flat in the Iraqi dust. We admit that we are nobodies, know no one, and need as much help as we can get. Therefore, we hope to close the last degree of separation and get some sort of underwriting for our attempts to help Iraqi children.
Jeremy and Cody