In The Lebanese Jungle, (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab Can Practice “Medicine” … While Laws Look Away

When I graduated from medical school about two years ago, the most important part of the Hyppocratic Oath that we took was to “do no harm.” It’s our moral and legal obligation as doctors to do the most that we can to improve our patients’ health, while making sure that our work does not prove to be at the detriment of their health and, even worse, constitute us taking advantage of them to increase our bottom line.

Farah Kassab was a 32 year old Iraqi-Jordanian mother of two, previously healthy contrary to the rumors trying to defend the surgeon who killed her, who presented to (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab’s clinic, by virtue of the ads he has inundated the country and its airline carrier with, to do a procedure that would help her lose weight. It wouldn’t have been considered an expensive plastic surgery: an injection to her stomach area that would regulate the amount of food she could eat.

Instead, Saab worked at convincing Farah Kassab that she needed to do liposuctions to her entire body in order to reach the figure she wanted, along with an eyebrow lift and a rhinoplasty. Saab took advantage of a woman who sought the care of a physician hoping he had her best interest at heart, and managed to convince her to sign on to a drastic procedure that would cost her north of $50,000 and involve more than 4-5 hours of operational work.

Later on, (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab started operating on Farah. 19 injections later, the 32 year old suffered a rare complication that usually occurs when patients suffer fractures in some of their long bones, but has been shown to exist in liposuctions, especially when they’re as massive volume as hers: a fat embolism.

Essentially, fat tissue that gathers together travels through the patient’s vessels and targets multiple organs, the most dangerous of which is the lungs which could lead to death especially when the patient in question is not in an equipped hospital to deal with such things.

Of course, (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab’s hospital was not equipped to deal with any of the complications that arise of his surgeries. His hospital did not have the facilities needed to monitor patients post operation to manage any arising complications. Farah was transferred back to her room. Soon enough, she became a frigid body whose mother had to frantically shout for the medical crew to come give her attention. Farah had passed away.

Instead of taking the blame, (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab proceeded to do what he does best: bend the system that he’s been bending for years to his advantage. He contacted his friend who works at Notre Dame du Liban hospital and they agreed to transfer Farah to that hospital and make it look like she died there, while issuing official death certificates with that information.

His friend agreed, but their plan did not go as planned when Farah’s family found out what happened with her forcing the other hospital to admit they received the patient already dead, according to Arabic news site Ammon News.

(El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab has since fled to Cyprus, and his hospital has been closed down.

If there’s anything for you to wish in life, especially if you live in Lebanon, it’s for a wasta that’s as strong as consistent as the one (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab has enjoyed over the years.

Facing recurrent suspensions from the Lebanese Order of Physicians because of him breaking their law that forbids physicians from advertising for themselves (Al jamal Nader wa Saab), he should have not been legally allowed to practice medicine in the country, especially on such a high level. And yet, he did.

In fact, he faced suspensions from the Lebanese Order of Physicians for the past five years, including one for 6 months, as well as a one month legal ban from pursuing what he calls “medicine.” He was still brought back to the frontline, in the full sight of the Lebanese government, without anyone addressing it, and not even with a higher level of vigilance from concerned authorities.

(El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab has been banned by more than one Arab country already from practicing his brand of medicine there, including the U.A.E, K.S.A and Kuwait. The reason for those bans are not perfectly clear, but even then he was still allowed to practice medicine in Lebanon with full liberty.

Farah Kassab isn’t the first victim of (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab, albeit she’s the first one to have died because of his negligence. The patients we’ve seen who have presented to clinics for other reasons with massively botched operations at his hands are recurrent, and have always found deaf ears in any governmental function they pursued. Refer to the insurmountable wasta that allows him to do so. He has already harmed a Jordanian woman before as he operated on one in his hotel room in Amman. He was still allowed to practice here afterwards.

For a hospital doing such high level surgeries, the Lebanese government, especially through the Ministry of Health, should have made sure that the minimum required facilities to monitor patients post-op and to manage any arising complications that occur is there. How could they allow operations with general anesthesia to occur without high level of pre and post op monitoring?

With (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab’s hospital, high profile as it is, they did not. In fact, his center getting the hospital label occurred through a governmental decree without passing through the necessary regulatory bodies, as per LBC, and without it being part of the Lebanese syndicate of hospitals which would have oversight over regulation.

Of course, his hospital is not the only lacking one in the country, but his hospital is not one that exists in the middle of nowhere and whose shortage in facilities is because our government doesn’t have the capacity to provide them. A physician such as him was allowed to operate a plastic surgery hospital without the minimum requirements to operate it in in the first place in full sight of the law.

How can a hospital based on surgical procedures not have any post-op monitoring? How is this severe lack of oversight even allowed? Or is our government only capable of banning movies? With no decent hospital, no legal basis to work here, (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab still did surgeries. Why?

How many more of these horrible stories are we supposed to hear, of physicians who give all of us a bad name because they are allowed to practice by a government who doesn’t bother to check and doesn’t listen to the many victims they’ve left in their path over the years?

Today, this 32 year old mother of a four year old girl and a one year old boy exists no more not only because of (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab, but because the Lebanese government in this jungle they call a country has allowed such a creature to not only exist, but to thrive.

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A Lebanese Healthcare Milestone: Mental Health Is Now Covered By The Ministry Of Health

Make sure you download this blog’s iOS app to stay up to date! (Link). 

One of the major problems that psychiatry patients in Lebanon face is having their mental health disorders not recognized by any insurance or governmental payment agency, which forces them to foot medical bills that can reach astronomical rates very fast.

There are next to zero insurance companies in the country that cover anything mental health related, even though about a quarter of the Lebanese population can be diagnosed with one mental health disorder or another.

On Friday, as reported by The Daily Star, Minister of Health Ghassan Hasbani announced that his Ministry will now, and for the first time ever in Lebanon, begin to cover mental health under its care plans which are available for all Lebanese citizens.

This isn’t the only accomplishment to be attributed to the Ministry. Hasbani also declared that eight mental health institutes will be created by the ministry for treatment and administration of care, as well as more focused training of professionals in the field.

“The Ministry of Health will begin to cover mental health as part of a comprehensive medical plan, managed by the Primary Health Care Department and supported by the World Bank. We will work on curing it of these issues that can frustrate and cause damage to citizens.”

To say how important such steps are in the Lebanese healthcare sector is not enough. Mental Health has always been considered a taboo in Lebanese society, even if perceptions are ever slowly changing. It hasn’t been a year that we spoke about a young Lebanese girl committing suicide because she had become so clinically depressed and unable to seek help, because such help is not as easy to come by as it should.

This measure by the MoH will save lives, and further improve the level of medical care that we can administer as doctors to our patients in this country, by lessening the fragmentation of care that arises when you have an entire facet of medicine without any form of coverage.

The next step that Minister Hasbani and the ministry should undertake is to reform insurance laws in the country to get insurance companies not to stigmatize mental health, by having them cover it like any normal illness that they’d cover in any circumstance.

I commend the ministry of health for this step, with hope to see more like it from other facets of the Lebanese government. It’s a very important step, and an essential one at that, in our fight against the stigmatization of mental health, as we try to remove it from our long list of Lebanese taboos.

Let’s Help 56 Year Old Rozine Moughalian Get The Liver Transplant That Would Save Her Life

Rozine Moughalian is a 56 year old mother of two from Bourj Hammoud and if she doesn’t get a liver transplant within a month, Rozine will be no more. This is as simple as that statement could be formulated.

Over the past three months, Mrs. Moughalian developed subacute liver failure. Doctors have not yet been able to identify a cause but her condition has deteriorated so fast that the only cure for her is a liver transplant operation, one that no hospitals in Lebanon can do.

As such, in order to save her life, Rozine’s Moughalian’s daughter, Catherine, turned to the only entity that she knew had the power to save her mother: us. This is not the time to disappoint.

We have less than 10 days to raise the required hefty amount to ensure that Mrs. Moughalian is covered for the operation and all its associated expenses. I believe we can do this. A couple of years ago, we all got together and pitched in to give my friend Simon a fighting chance at beating his leukemia. Let’s do the same for Rozine, a psychologist and a mother, who still has plenty to give to her family, her country and herself.

We should not let Rozine be the victim of the Lebanese condition, where only those who are rich enough can access healthcare while those who can’t pay up wait for their souls to be reaped. This is not how things should be and we should not allow it. Minister Wael Faour, if you or your people happen to read this, it is your duty as a minister of health to make sure that citizens like Rozine, who at times like these need governmental assistance the most, to get it and have a fighting chance at life. This is as important as ensuring coverage for those above 64 years of age.

Donate here.

The following is a statement from Catherine Moughalian, Rozine’s daughter:

My mom, Rozine Moughalian, is a 56 year-old psychologist and mother of two. She lives in Bourj Hammoud, an area that has been recently piled with garbage and darkened by black smoke from burning trash. In the last three months, my mom developed subacute liver failure, which doctors were unable to diagnose and suspect possible drug or toxin exposure. The condition developed quickly, and mom went from working three jobs two months ago to being hospitalized with a terminal condition today. She is currently in need of a liver transplant without delay (within the next two weeks).

It is an extremely difficult process to find donors and secure funds in such a short period of time. So, due to bureaucratic procedures and time constraints, she can’t receive a liver transplant in Lebanon and it was recommended by doctors that she be transferred abroad for proper assessment and treatment. We are currently aiming for transferring her to Iran or India, these being the cheapest options. France was also an option earlier but it costs double what the surgery would cost in Iran or India.

Mom does not have the money for such a surgery, and she doesn’t have access to free quality healthcare. We need to raise at least 200,000 USD by the end of the month to be able to fund her surgery or it will be too late.

I find it absurd that my mom won’t get to live out the month because we can’t afford the money or a donor. She has the right to access free medical care, she has the right to get appointments with doctors without wasta, and the right to be admitted into the hospital at the expense of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) without having to wait a day in the ER while we make the “right calls to the right people.”

In a country where our basic rights are not available, or only available to a select few, sticking together is more of a basic need than duty. If you feel you can donate, any amount will bring us closer to the goal of keeping my mom alive.

I understand if you can’t donate, but please share this message with people who you think can help, either financially or by pointing us to people who have had a similar experience and can help with procedures and logistics.

I urge you to gather your resources as I am gathering mine. Thank you for reading this.

In solidarity,

Catherine Moughalian

If you have means of helping other than donations please contact me:

catherine.moughalian@gmail.com 961 3 098 817

Dear Lebanon, The Garbage Crisis Is Not Giving You The Flu

Lebanon Garbage - 3

In the context of a country with any ounce of self-respect, speaking about a garbage crisis that has been going on since July would not only be old news by now, it would be solved old news. Except we don’t live in a country with an any amount of self-respect, and as such Greater Beirut’s garbage situation is still a topic, albeit less hot, of discussion.

A few months ago, when people were actually interested in the garbage crisis, which is to say when the garbage was visible on their streets and not tucked away in some valley somewhere or in a makeshift pyramid near the port, I wrote an article on this blog (link) about the health risks that the crisis might involve especially with the rain season.

As a very brief summary, in theory the garbage crisis and the many variables around it would cause the following:

  • Many types of bacterial infiltration of the waters,
  • Many heavy metals and other elements-related pollution,
  • Burning it will increase the amount of carcinogens in the air, as well as exacerbate respiratory conditions in people who have pulmonary disease when they have it.

As long term effects, we could be looking at an increased cancer incidence as a study after Italy’s waste management crisis in 2004 showed.

What the garbage crisis is not doing, however, is giving you the flu or other common infections that we encounter yearly.

Over the past few weeks, which happens to be the yearly flu season in Lebanon, everyone and their mother decided that whenever they got sick, it was because of the garbage crisis in Beirut. H1N1 – or as it’s more commonly known in the country now H1 and 1 – has become so commonly associated with the garbage crisis that the scientific community is probably considering whether to reconsider all the details surrounding H1N1 altogether.

We’ve also heard about “new” viruses attacking the country, such as metapneumovirus B, causing severe respiratory diseases.

This is, quite simply, incorrect.

For starters, metapneumovirus B is not a new virus. It’s been known for at least 40 years now and is actually one of the leading causes of respiratory infections in children worldwide. Lebanon has had this virus before, and it gets treated the same way we treat most viral infections: address the symptoms and provide the patient relief while their ailment resolves.

The case illustrated in this eTobb article (link) about a 25 year old who had a devastating respiratory infection secondary to the aforementioned virus remains, as it stands, a case that fell through the cracks of medicine in the sense that some people will get complications from common infections and we have no way to predict who would be the victim of such complications.

When it comes to H1N1, this is the current state worldwide:

Outbreaks are being reported in Bulgaria, Canada, Ireland, Ethiopia, Pakistan, etc. What do these countries have in common? Nothing, which is precisely the point.

Every year, the world is swept up by a strain of the Influenza virus which, when a person infected, gives them what is referred to as the flu: runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, fatigue, feeling pain all over your body for a few days, etc…. These symptoms usually resolve in a few days and you’re off on your merry way to health.

Some people may also be infected and not show any symptoms. The way this occurs is in sort of a pyramid fashion:

Assume 100,000 people in Lebanon got infected this year. 10,000 of those would show symptoms of the flu. Out of those 10,000 maybe around 100 would require hospitalization. And out of those 100 that needed hospitalization, 1 might die because of complications.

The garbage crisis overtaking Beirut has nothing to do with this. This will happen again next year, with or without a garbage crisis, and it will also happen the year after as it also took place in the years prior. Having a new shiny ribbon of erroneous but appealing explanation to wrap this whole thing with won’t make it go away. People are getting sick all over Lebanese territories simply because this is an infectious disease, not a garbage-related disease; the garbage does not cause H1N1 or the flu. It’s really that simple.

At this rate, getting the first case of Zika virus infection in this country will also be attributed to the garbage.

Therefore, I’m sorry to say that the answer to your question “how did I get sick” is simply “this is how things are,” and not “it’s the garbage that’s killing you.”

You can, however, protect yourself by practicing as much hygiene as possible. Thorough hand-washing is key to prevent the transmission of the influenza virus. Avoid sick contacts if you can. If you’re sick, don’t be a jerk and go around contacting others. Don’t trust your local pharmacist to start you on Tavanic or Klacid or whatever other medication he feels like giving you. This is a virus and antibiotics don’t work. Rest as much as you can, you’ll get better in a few days.

 

Attempting To Bring Affordable Medicine To Every Lebanese And Refugee in Lebanon

As I’m starting my career in medicine in Lebanon, I noticed that the biggest hurdle facing patients is accessibility. This can take many forms. For the few that I serve at the tertiary center where I work, such issues are second rate: many of them can afford the healthcare provided at my institution and wouldn’t bat an eyelash at the thought that there are actually others in their country who are not as fortunate.

But the truth is that the healthcare sector in Lebanon is a tragedy. The numbers speak for themselves: Almost half of the Lebanese populace has no other means of coverage other than the Ministry of Health, whose budget is less than 5% of the total country’s budget. So what happens when that budget runs out, which happens ever so often? Over 40% of the Lebanese population finds hospital doors closing in their faces, as our news outlets race to pick up the media scoop without actually delving into the issue and finding out why it’s an issue in the first place.

To try and break this cycle, a bunch of doctors from the University of Balamand and the American University of Beirut, along with a few of their colleagues in other fields, have teamed up to attempt and get affordable healthcare to every Lebanese out there, regardless of income range and of geographical location.

It doesn’t matter whether that Lebanese can afford hospital entry or not; in a lot of the case a simple visit to a doctor can suffice to diagnose and treat a particular issue. It’s getting access to a decent doctor that’s the problem, and, when access is available, actually being able to afford the fees.

In a project launched on Zoomaal (link), the aforementioned Lebanese doctors are trying to change that reality to the best of their capacities.

They are creating a platform that allows the following:

  • Patients to get in direct contact with real life doctors for minimal fees, have their histories taken and maybe even get management.
  • Allow those patients to be visited by doctors and get examined and assessed also for minimal fees.

To achieve this, a phone call, video call or a house visit can be arranged. The details are all at this link.

This is the first attempt that I can think of by any Lebanese entity to bring healthcare to the entirety of the Lebanese populace, regardless of income and regardless of geographical constraints. This project is trying to do what the Lebanese government has failed to do: actually care about those who need it most and who don’t have the same amenities that should be a given right in the beginning of 2016.

In a country of over 4 million people, and more than 2 million refugees, having most of your population not having access to healthcare is a disgrace. It’s a shame it’s not as headline grabbing though as Mia Khalifa being the top pornstar in the world or Jbeil’s Christmas tree being listed somewhere. That would’ve gotten people interested.

How Rain Will Make Lebanon’s Garbage Crisis Much, Much Worse

Beirut River

The political aspect of Lebanon’s Garbage Crisis has been discussed extensively. The protests around the issue and their underwritten goals have also been discussed extensively. What hasn’t been talked about in the media, however, is how this garbage crisis in Greater Beirut is affecting our health and how the first bouts of rain, set to come within the next few weeks if we go by Lebanon’s standards, will exacerbate this crisis into a full blown health crisis as well.

To be honest, this isn’t something I learned in medical school. We don’t have courses about garbage-crisis-related-health-issues. This is very short-sighted, I know.

So with a little help from my Infectious Diseases specialist-to-be friend Tala Ballouz, a little research was done and we’ve come up with the following.

So the Greater Beirut area today is essentially a very urban area that has its garbage being deposited basically everywhere. With rainfall that runs on this garbage, many of the extracts in our garbage will become dissolved and suspended in the rain, forming a liquid called leachate.

So what is leachate made of? Let’s list them.

  1. Aerobic and anaerobic bacteria (where is Abou Faour when you need him?),
  2. High concentrations of total dissolved solids, ammonia, nitrate, phosphate, chloride, calcium, potassium, sulfate, and iron,
  3. Numerous heavy metals such as zinc, mercury, cadmium, lead, nickel,
  4. Organic trace constituents: byproducts of decomposing solvents, pesticides, and polychlorinated biphenyls, a highly toxic environmental pollutant.
  5. High numbers of fecal bacteria.

Leachate occurs over landfills, dumps and essentially wherever garbage exists. In developed countries, their high level waste management systems prevent this substance from being anything worthwhile. Developing countries, however, don’t have it as easy.

How about if that developing country was a country like ours in our own garbage situation that consists of: 1) garbage being present on streets, next to rivers, next to the sea and on land where it shouldn’t be, 2) that same garbage being unmanaged and untreated for over 57 days now which means its level of decomposition is in the stratosphere and 3) when even our rivers are blocked by it?

With the formation of leachate with Lebanon’s upcoming rain season, the toxic water will do the following:

  1. Infiltrate into the underground water reserves that we have. This will lead to highly toxic water for us to use in various industries, be it in agriculture or even personal use.
  2. The rain, coupled with the fumes of the garbage along with leachate, will form acid rain. This will affect aquatic life, Lebanon’s already-fragile infrastructure and whatever plants we have left.
  3. The consumption of products that are this polluted (indirectly) with this many toxins (check the list above) serves as a massive hub for carcinogens, substances that increase the risk of cancer.
  4. The Beirut River will have unnaturally high toxic levels (remember when it was red? this will be worse), that’s if it doesn’t overflow, sending waste and toxins into the homes of those living around it.
  5. Illnesses that are not endemic to Lebanon will start surfacing, notably cholera, a bacteria that thrives on infected water.

Other infectious problems we might have are the following:

  • Amoebiasis –> causes fever, abdominal discomfort, bloating, fever, weight loss.
  • Infections with various tapeworms –> cause a wide array of intestinal disturbance and could even have neurologic sequelae.
  • Echinococcosis –> causes liver cysts, and can cause anaphylactic shocks.
  • Various bacteria that are not only cholera (C. jejuni, E. Coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Legionella) –> cause symptoms ranging from intestinal to pulmonary to neurologic symptoms.

As a country, we are not ready to handle many things, as is testament by the fact that our garbage has been on the streets for about two months. A health crisis due to this garbage crisis is also something that the country cannot remotely handle. The epidemics we can get are not fiction, but they are right around the corner.

What can you do?

Pressure your politicians to get the garbage off the streets… yesterday. And if not? Well, don’t drink the water.

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.