If you ask Edmond Khnaisser to summarize the birth of his son, he’d tell you it was an adrenaline rush. And not because baby George is his firstborn, but because his son was born just moments after the massive Beirut explosion ripped through his wife’s hospital room.
Edmond and his wife, Emma, checked into Saint George Hospital on Tuesday morning fully prepared for the birth of their son later that day. With Emma in the pre-labor room, Edmond decided to take a video of their last moments as a family of two. While recoding, Edmond enters the doorway of Emma’s room and the explosion can be heard, and broken glass from the windows falls to the ground.
“Everything was shattered around,” Edmond said. “I went and got everything off my wife, helped a nurse get off the floor right in front of her bed and then I pulled my wife’s bed to a safe location.”
Edmond said he wheeled Emma’s bed to a room that appeared to be untouched by the explosion until all the nurses and doctors, who were injured themselves, could attend to her.
“They stitched up each other, they were very professional and then started the labor as if nothing had occurred,” he said.
The main operation room, medications and instruments were completely destroyed, Edmond said.
“My wife had to give birth without any medicine,” he said. “At the same time there was no lighting, so doctors and nurses were shining light on my wife using cellphones.”
Straddling two spaces
Both Emma and Edmond’s parents had been waiting on the other side of the hospital, so once his wife was in the hands of doctors and safe, he ran to find their family.
“It was actually a maze, Edmond said. “Everything was totally destroyed.”
“They put my wife on a plastic chair, took her down to the parking lot and we had to walk around 600 meters with my wife in new stitches and a 10 minute year old baby just so we could get a car to get us to somewhere safe,” he said.
Edmond’s mom suffered a lung injury because of broken limbs but he said she’s stable, recovering and out of the ICU.
“When a person is in such a situation, you don’t think about what will happen to you,” he said. “When you see someone so weak in front of you, you just act.”
And even after the couple made their way outside Saint George’s and traveled 5 miles east to a neighboring one, Hôpital Aboujaoudé, Edmond said they were still so shocked at the impact the explosion had on their surroundings.
“We didn’t know that it was that big and this much people were hurt,” he said.
Edmond is calling doctors and Emma superheroes.
“They (doctors) could have just left,” he said. “They could be scared and leave but none of them left.”
Since baby George’s birth, the Saint George’s doctors have kept in contact with the couple every day.
“It was just like a family on that floor,” he said. “Like sisters and brothers in that hospital.”
Edmond and Emma were finally able to take baby George home on Friday evening and he said he’s just thankful his family is safe and healthy.