He was born just a few minutes after the catastrophic blast. Injured doctors held up torches and mobile phones to ensure the safe birth of George.
When Beirut was terrorized by the deadly explosion which left many injured, everyone was shocked. While many lost their lives, in one corner of the city, a baby took his first breath, becoming the inspiration that the city needed. On August 4, baby George came into this world just moments after the blast which shook Lebanon to its core. The baby's mother, Emmanuelle Khnaisser, was being wheeled inside Saint George Hospital University Medical Center when the explosion happened.
Talking to Good Morning America (GMA), father, Edmond Khnaisser said, "The baby was in his final stages and doctors told us, 'We have to deliver him now.'" He continued, "Doctors who were injured fixed each other and went on with the delivery as if nothing ever happened."
The explosion was so powerful that it was felt nearly 150 miles away in Cyprus. BBC reported that the cause of the explosion was the 2,700 metric tons of ammonium nitrate which is commonly used in agricultural fertilizer but is highly explosive. It was stored at a warehouse in the city's port.
According to The Associated Press report as quoted by ABC News, more than 6,000 people were gravely injured and at least 180 innocent people lost their lives. Among the dead, 10 were first responders.
With his wife in the pre-labor room, Edmond decided to record on video the last day of the couple as a family of two. In the video, as soon as he enters the doorway to Emmanuelle's room a blast can be heard along with the windows shattering and the broken pieces falling on the floor, reported CNN.
Describing the scenario, Edmond said, "Everything was shattered around. 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."
He then wheeled his wife's bed into a room that strangely looked untouched by the explosion until the doctors who were also injured could come and attend to his wife. Once they arrived, "They stitched up each other, they were very professional and then started the labor as if nothing had occurred," he said.
If things couldn't get worse, all the medications and instruments in the operation room were destroyed. "My wife had to give birth without any medicine. At the same time there was no lighting, so doctors and nurses were shining light on my wife using cellphones," he recalled.
He continued, "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," according to CNN.
Once Edmond was sure about his wife's safety, he ran to help out his relatives who were also present at the hospital. His mother, Myrna Khnaisser, sister Christine Khnaisser, father-in-law [and priest] George Lteif, mother-in-law Antoinette Lteif and sister-in-law Myriam Lteif were all praying and awaiting the arrival of the baby.
While Myrna suffered from six broken ribs and a punctured lung, his father-in-law and sister, Christine suffered from deep cuts on the body and face. "We were under an adrenaline rush. You will do anything to save your loved ones," Esmond said. He also disclosed that he helped his family evacuate the hospital. "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," he continued.
The father of the baby revealed that the couple was in shock to see the amount of damage the blast had done to the surroundings as they moved from Saint George's to a neighboring hospital, Hôpital Aboujaoud. He said, "After that (blast), my son was born it was very scary. We couldn't stay there." He added, "We didn't know that it was that big and this much people were hurt. They (doctors) could have just left. They could be scared and leave but none of them left."
Even after Geroge's birth, Saint George's doctors kept in touch with the couple every day. "It was just like a family on that floor. Like sisters and brothers in that hospital," Edmond said.
Photographer Janis Sarraf clicked pictures of baby George at the couple's home just two weeks later after the Beirut blast. Talking to GMA, she revealed that the blast took her home, her photography studio, and loved ones too.
She said, "I wasn't sure I would still be able to take another picture. I couldn't, however, refuse the request of the parents of George's for the photo shoot when they shared their story." In Janis' view, George's photos represent the tragedy of Beirut. "But which also showed the glimmer of hope my city is so well known for," she added.
Edmond revealed, "Everybody here looks at him as the hope from this disaster. He is light from darkness, birth from wreckage, it's unbelievable." The Khnaissers are extremely thankful to everyone who helped them out during a difficult time, especially the hospital staff who showered them with compassion and professionalism.
With that being said, the couple is now sharing their baby's story on the Instagram page, Miracle Baby George.