By NICOLE PELLETIERE, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A baby who was being born as a deadly explosion rocked the city of Beirut is now inspiring his country in wake of the catastrophe.
George Khnaisser came into the world on Aug. 4, moments after the explosion in Lebanon. His mother, Emmanuelle Khnaisser, was being wheeled into labor inside Saint George Hospital University Medical Center when the blast occurred.
“The baby was in his final stages and doctors told us, ‘We have to deliver him now,"” dad Edmond Khnaisser told Good Morning America. “Doctors who were injured fixed each other and went on with the delivery as if nothing ever happened.”
The explosion leveled buildings throughout the city and was felt nearly 150 miles away in Cyprus. Officials believe the cause was over 2,700 metric tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive substance used in fertilizer, that had been stored at a warehouse in the city’s port.
Khnaisser happened to be filming as windows shattered and debris ripped through the facility at approximately 6 p.m. local time.
Khnaisser said he pulled debris off his wife and medical staff, who moved her into another area. Doctors used lights from nurse’s cellphones as they delivered baby George.
When Khnaisser knew his wife was safe, he ran two hallways away where 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 awaiting George’s birth.
Khnaisser’s mother suffered six broken ribs and a punctured lung. His sister and father-in-law suffered cuts to the body and face. Khnaisser helped evacuate them out of the hospital.
“We were under an adrenaline rush,” Khnaisser said. “You will do anything to save your loved ones.”
“After that, my son was born,” he added. “It was very scary. We couldn’t stay there.”
George was wrapped in towels and the entire family went to Aboujaoudé Hospital in Jal el Dib. There, George’s birth weight was recorded at 6 pounds.
Two weeks after the blast, photographer Janis Sarraf snapped pictures of George inside the Khnaissers’ home. Sarraf had lost her own home, her photography studio and loved ones in the explosion, she told GMA.
“I wasn’t sure I would still be able to take another picture,” Sarraf said. “I couldn’t, however, refuse the request of the parents of George’s for the photo shoot when they shared their story.”
Sarraf said the photos of George represent the pain Beirut has gone through. “But which also showed the glimmer of hope my city is so well known for,” she added.
The Khnaissers say George is their miracle baby.
“Everybody here looks at him as the hope from this disaster,” Khnaisser said. “He is light from darkness, birth from wreckage, it’s unbelievable.”
Khnaisser said everyone in his family is in full recovery. The first-time parents want to thank all hospital staff for their compassion and professionalism, they said.
The Khnaissers are sharing George’s birth story on his Instagram page, “Miracle Baby George.”
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