HASSEN AL HUSSEIN, born on Nov. 6, is a miracle child whose birth has knitted together two churches, a mosque, dozens of local volunteers and caregivers, and a medical staff that defied the odds.
Hassen's family--parents, Mostafa and Bahijeh, and his two older brothers, Mohammed (6) and Yassine (5)--arrived in Canada in February from a refugee camp in Lebanon. They were originally from Aleppo, Syria. They were sponsored by a joint effort between St. Andrew's and St. David's congregations in St. John's, Nfld.
Rev. Derek Krunys, minister at St. Andrew's and interim moderator at St. David's, arrived in Newfoundland last September. He hit the ground running with St. Andrew's as they got their application in to sponsor a refugee family by late November 2015.
The two congregations founded Churches Helping Our Syrian Neighbours. Krunys admits the acronym--CHOSYN--is a bit misleading since it reflects only the two congregations but "how could we resist something so catchy?"
CHOSYN knew early on that the al Hussein family was designated as having a health concern; however, only a week before their arrival did they learn the mother, Bahijeh, needed regular dialysis treatments due to a kidney problem. She was receiving dialysis in Beirut twice a week, just enough to survive. CHOSYN found the right mix of people with the medical skills to navigate the extra needs of the family.
Bahijeh would have been placed on a kidney transplant list but almost immediately upon arriving in Canada she got pregnant. She needed to be transported to her treatments--each dialysis session can take four hours--six times a week.
Baby Hassen is only the second child to be born to a woman undergoing dialysis in St. John's. The American National Kidney Foundation advises against pregnancy until after a kidney transplant. The CHOSYN community, along with others in St. John's, provided a support group for the family to allow a miracle child to be born.