The Ella Tannous Case: When Every Lebanese Suddenly Becomes A Doctor

Ella Tannous

I just wasted 7 years of my life in medical school.

Naturally, when you live in the country with the likes of professor Marcel Ghanem, Dr. Joe Maalouf, Tony Khalifeh and their friends, is there a point for you to remotely try to get an education? They will tell you what you need to know, give you medicine crash courses and guide public opinion on the matter.

Clearly, they’re the ones who know everything and those doctors are just backward-minded folks who only care about money.

Ella Tannous is a young 9 months old whose pediatrician is now in jail. Why is he in jail? Because we live in a corrupt country where security forces get carried away by the sensational reporting of Kalam Ennas and other similar shows to ruin the life of a man simply because of the science of Marcel Ghanem’s report and that dramatic Lord of the Rings music in the background and the tears of the child’s mother as she whispers: why can’t my little girl play with barbies?

Again, what would I know. I’m sure that policeman in between his Malek el Tawou2 sandwiches was busy reading medical textbooks. Give me the differential of a crying baby, kind sir. Oh, you have cramps from all the garlic consumption? Excuse me.

According to her parents, Ella had a high grade fever for which they contacted her pediatrician, Dr. Issam Maalouf, who ran some tests that revealed Ella most likely had a viral illness and prescribed medications to lower her fever.

However, Ella’s fever did not subside and upon contacting the doctor again, he told them not to worry and to use cold towels to try and drop her temperature.

When the parents saw that their child’s situation did not improve they took her to the hospital. It was a Sunday. The pediatrician did not see Ella that day and instead saw her the following day when she had already deteriorated.

He got her transferred to AUBMC where further treatment was done. Ella, however, was in shock and in a state called DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation) and had gangrene in her limbs, which had to be amputated to save her life.

This is what happened with Ella Tannous according to her parents:

*cue in dramatic music.*

What happened to their child is surely devastating to them and Ella’s parents have every right to be sad and heartbroken over what happened to their daughter.

But just because someone’s daughter had complications does not make that person a doctor who can go on air and pretend they know what makes sense scientifically and what doesn’t. It also does not give Marcel Ghanem or any Lebanese media, who were quick to jump on this very delicious scoop, the right to become full blown medical professionals who spent their times doing night duties in pediatrics.

So let’s go with what we know one by one:

1) Ella’s blood tests revealed a viral illness. Viruses are not treated with antibiotics as Ella’s father was alluding should have happened. In fact, the side effects of those antibiotics and possible increasing resistance to them make their use in viral illness not recommended. How do you treat a viral illness, scientifically? You provide symptomatic relief. A patient has fever? You give anti fever medication. A patient has a sore throat? You provide pain relief, etc.

2) Ella’s fever persisted. Viral illnesses can have fevers that persist. You still give anti-fever medications and monitor. This is what you do, unless LBC or Annahar have new guidelines that we need to be aware of, in which case enlight us please.

3) Ella deteriorated and they contacted her physician as they took her to the hospital. He didn’t recognize them at first. Well, bring the guillotines. A pediatrician could not recognize over the phone a patient out of the hundreds that he has. He must be incompetent. Issam Maalouf’s mistake? He did not go see Ella that day at the hospital. However, that hospital is a university hospital and they should have been reporting back to him every single that happened with Ella as she would’ve been admitted under his care.

4) Ella’s fever continues and she starts experiencing decreasing urine output and becomes lethargic. These are signs of dehydration and deterioration. Dehydration can lead to kidney damage because blood flow to the kidney is decreased which causes something that is called acute kidney injury. This is not what probably happened to Ella, however.

5) Because of her decreasing immunity fighting the virus, Ella contracted another bacteria called Group A Strep (GAS). This bacteria is virulent and has been known to cause a wide array of complications when not recognized and treated early. To recognize and treat it early, you need to maintain a very high level of suspicion which in the setting of a clear viral illness, such as Ella’s case, was not the case.

Due to her low immunity, Ella had a dissemination of GAS. This led her to go into septic shock and full blown DIC. Septic shock is an extremely lethal condition whereby the body cannot adequately find the overwhelming infection. DIC is a complication of septic shock that leads to the depletion of the body’s ability to coagulate the blood through the formation of little clots that block blood vessels across many organs and vessels. The condition is extremely lethal.

In fact, the combination of septic shock and DIC is usually unescapable. Ella is lucky to be alive. Do you know why she’s lucky to be alive? Because her pediatrician saw the signs early enough to transfer her to a hospital that can manage her well.

 

Bring The Pitchforks, Why Don’t You:

After all that they’ve done, I can’t believe the Lebanese populace still trusts Lebanese media blindly when it comes to medical issues just because they’re sensationalized enough for their liking.

This is the same media that wanted to convince you we had a Guillain-Barré virus.

This is the same media that, a few years ago, ruined an OBGYN’s life by pretending they know medicine and accused him of killing one of his patients who was giving birth. That patient had an amniotic fluid embolism that is a lethal and extremely rare complication of giving birth. That doctor’s future was ruined anyway. He was also thrown in jail for something out of his hands before the courts realized that he was thrown in jail simply because of Tony Khalifeh’s report at the time.

Issam Maalouf joins the growing list of doctors whose entire career rests upon the whims of a reporter who understands nothing and who goes by what the parents or family of a patient are saying as if they know what’s happening, as if they know the medicine behind diseases. A devastated parent is not a doctor.

This is the same media that now has you convinced a competent doctor is now where he belongs, behind bars, and has you changing your display pictures to “Justice for Ella” snapshots.

When faced with a report from the Lebanese Order of Physicians about what actually happened, that same media downplays the report as inaccurate. Because clearly, the Order of Physicians does not know the medicine behind what’s going on. Those physicians did not go to med school for years and then did residency and fellowship programs for more years only to be ridiculed on air for being imbeciles.

Complications in medical scenarios happen. Not every single complication, despite how deliciously journalistic it looks, is a headline story.

With all due respect to a patient’s family, the esteemed reporters across the Lebanese republic and the people holding the pitchforks in Ella’s defense: You really have no freaking clue what you’re saying. Stop suggesting treatment modalities. Stop suggesting scientific explanations. Stop ruining people’s lives just because it makes for fancy headlines.

And then you get the Ministry of Health pretending they suddenly understand medicine to bring their pitchforks too. You know, that same ministry who turned Lebanon’s food safety issue into a Star Academy-like nominee-every-week report fashion.

There is a reason we go to medical school for endless years. There is a reason we do residency for another batch of endless years. Only doctors can know when medical errors occur. Only doctors can judge another doctor who does a medical error. Only doctors know how to treat patients and diagnose them. Only doctors know how to manage complications.

This is not elitism. This is common sense. This extends to other professions as well. I can’t judge the work of an architect, but an architect can. I can’t judge the work of an electrical engineer, but another electrical engineer can, etc.

The bottom line is: I just wasted 7 years of my life in medical school, that much is clear. Because clearly, Marcel Ghanem and his friends know better than me and all my colleagues.

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How Lebanon Kissed Salma Hayek’s Ass Like No Ass Has Been Kissed Before

Overwhelming refugee crisis? Nope.

The fact that it has been over a year that our parliament convened in session to vote for a president? Nope.

All other issues worth discussing about the country? Nope.

Salma Hayek visiting? YES, YES, YES.

In order to stay up to date, little as I want to, with what’s happening in my very beloved country, I usually turn to my social media feeds. As it goes: if it’s important enough to become a twitter thing, then you should be aware of it.

Salma Hayek was a Twitter thing. A Facebook thing. An Instagram thing. A get out of my face thing. A don’t we have other things to worry about thing. An everything kind of thing. A “are we seriously still talking about this” thing. A “awwww Lebanese pride, bitches” thing.

It had been a while since I saw my country, even if from afar, kiss ass in such a glorious way. Not only was the nation all over Salma Hayek’s Mexican-American ass, we were also salivating all over it, begging her for the minimal and most mundane of acknowledgment. We are here, we matter, recognize us please, breathe our air please, share our sewage system we beg you.

1 – We Gave Her A Freaking Citizenship

Salma Hayek Lebanese citizenship

Salma Hayek’s grandfather was Lebanese. Sure, she has “legal” right to get the citizenship, but so do a whole lot of other people of Lebanese origins who have been blessed by the Almighty Lord to have the semen-given part of their genome be Lebanese. Salma Hayek lands in the country and not only do we run to give her a citizenship, I bet we also gave her a very nice “golden” civil registry number. I’m also sure her national ID card number was golden. Her passport number? Platinum, I bet!

Never mind that it actually takes presidential decrees to nationalize. Never mind that the country doesn’t really have a path of citizenship to begin with. Never mind that there are hundreds of people of Lebanese-origins who have been trying to get our very precious citizenship for years to no avail. Never mind that our country won’t even let Salma Hayek pass her citizenship to her daughter, like the so many Lebanese mothers who have been struggling for years and whose children are more Lebanese than Hayek.

Certainly, Salma Hayek should get our citizenship. Because being Mexican, and American and being married to a French guy are definitely not enough. Lebanon trumps them all.

2 – We Hosted Her On Kalam Ennas:

Kalam Ennas Marcel Ghanem

I usually associate Kalam Ennas’ special episodes with matters of national crisis that require the country to halt all programming in order to accommodate the necessary political diarrhea to be spewed. Not this time.

Salma Hayek was in the country. How could we not host her? How could we not flaunt to the entire world that she was giving Lebanon its very first movie premiere EVER. How could Marcel Ghanem miss the opportunity to boost his interviewing record by interviewing…. just some B-list actress who happened to grace the country with her presence?

What’s your name, Marcel would ask. Salma would answer. He’d sit dumbfounded. She was proud of having Lebanese heritage, as if it was a multiple choice question with more than one option. She forgot her purse at the terminal because she was pre-occupied with the Cedar she was given. They ran after her. She didn’t care, mostly because she has 46342753851371357 other purses, because that Cedar was her whole country.

Jmade, wli. 

3 – Sethrida Geagea Joined Twitter

Sethrida Geagea Twitter Salma Hayek

In order to capitalize on the buzz that was generated by Salma Hayek visiting Bsharre and the subsequent fashion showdown, Sethrida Geagea decided to join twitter. She has tweeted 4 times so far. 3 of those 4 tweets are about Salma Hayek and her visit to Bsharre. Of course, Lebanese media did not see it from this perspective because they were pre-occupied with the fact that Sethrida Geagea was better looking than Salma Hayek.

How is that possible? A Lebanese is better looking than a Hollywood star? How could that be? Is it even remotely possible that Salma Hayek could be human and not the God she was made out to be? What does Samir think about all of this? Next time, on Lebanese Serial.

4 – We Suddenly Cared About Syrian Refugees

It took Salma Hayek visiting the Syrian Refugee camps for those refugees to become news again. Were they important enough during Lebanon’s relatively harsh winter? Nope. Are they important in absolute value? No. But we can’t let Salma Hayek know we don’t care. So for the few days she was here, of course we’d show how much we cared for those refugees… as long as we capture that perfect Kodak Moment in order to show how much we care to the whole wide world.

Don’t you see those poor babies? That huggable little girl? All those miserable people in subpar conditions? Don’t let anyone tell you we’re not helping them… We made sure Salma Hayek visited!

5 – The Prophet Is Now Everyone’s Favorite Book. Ever.

In between all the mania surrounding her visit, I bet Salma Hayek almost forgot why she was here in the first place: to promote her upcoming movie to the country that made it.

Yes, it technically premiered at Cannes last year. Yes, there was also technically a premiere at Doha earlier this year. Yes, the book on which the movie is based was written in the United States and in English. Yes, Salma Hayek probably came here because part of the funding of the movie was via a Lebanese bank.

But goddammit, no. She’s here to show how proud she is of her Lebanese heritage, which is clearly exemplified in The Prophet, a book about how the wonderful stringing of words together can be and how easy it is to repeat them at funerals, weddings, graduations and other miscellaneous occasions.

Subsequently, The Prophet has now become Lebanon’s official favorite book, even possibly beating The Bible and the Quran. Don’t let priests and sheikhs know, though. “Your children are not your children” has been quoted so many times I’m beginning to search for children that may not be mine.

I bet the movie will be the movie of the year too!

Bonus: Elissa Was Fangirling

A picture is worth several hundred words. How about a bunch?

Saad Hariri To Be On Kalam Ennas on January 31st

Saad Hariri

Lebanon’s most famous invisible/disappeared man is preparing a comeback. And it starts in 10 days.

Marcel Ghanem’s TV show on LBC will be the first political talk show in months (maybe even a year) to host the former prime minister of the country and the head of one of its largest parties who left the country soon after the January 2011 coup not to be heard of or seen again.

Don’t worry though – Saad Hariri wasn’t in grave danger in his self-exile in Paris, unless you count that broken leg skiing on the French (or was it Swiss?) Alps. Throughout the past two years, Hariri has gradually but surely decreased his presence all around even on Twitter following not one (click here) but two (click here) gaffs on social media.

Either way, the episode should be quite interesting. I, for one, hope it wasn’t part of an exclusive deal aiming to get viewers without tackling any serious questions. With the tricky situation the country is going through, Marcel Ghanem better be ready to grill Saad Hariri about what he has been up to these past two years and what he intends to do in the coming months.

I’m sure everyone wants to know.

Will you be watching? The whole country will.

Emile Rahme Storms Out of Kalem El Nas Episode. Way To Go Marcel Ghanem!

Sometimes Marcel Ghanem just does good things, like tonight with him showing Baalbak MP Emile Rahme exactly what he needed. As a result, Emile Rahme decided to throw a tantrum and leave the show.

Of course, LBC wouldn’t let such an opportunity go to waste.

And here’s the YouTube video of it:

I believe the Lebanese thing to say in this case is “Allah ma3 dwelibak.” Unless they’re fried (which is probable).

This is what Marcel Ghanem had to say afterwards: