Carmen El-Khoury El-Sayegh, an elegant and beautiful housewife, and a mother of two daughters: Lara and Sara, was radiant, glowing, and full of life. In her younger years, she had modeled for International designer Zuhair Murad.
On August 4, 2020, Carmen was in her home on the 7th floor of a building facing the port of Beirut. She was preparing dinner for her family while she watched the smoke coming out of the port. When she heard the first explosion, she tried to open the windows to reduce pressure. She didn’t know the intensity of the explosion would destroy the wall and windows in her room, pushing her towards the other wall, and then to the floor, as her face hit the shattered glass covering the floor and she lost consciousness.
Her husband and daughters were close-by, they rushed to the building and went up the stairs to check up on Carmen. The smoke inside their house made it more difficult to find her, and when they entered her room, they saw that the wall and windows were completely destroyed, and they thought the explosion pushed her outside. A little while later, her husband stepped on something soft and they heard Carmen mumble a little sound, while her body was covered with rubble. They put her in a chair and evacuated her through the stairs, and despite the enormity of what happened in their home, they were shocked by the rubble and destruction around them, injured people in the streets, and blood and body parts everywhere.
They stopped a motorcycle to help them evacuate Carmen to the hospital, but being quite a tall woman, her legs sustained additional injuries along the way. They reached Saint George Hospital but it was out of service, they then went on to Hotel Dieu Hospital where she was immediately admitted to the operations room. From then on, her treatment journey lasted quite a while; she was in a coma for 23 days, and none of her doctors believed she would survive. They knew she had developed vision problems, but as they thought she wouldn’t survive her wounds, they kept her condition a secret. However, the miracle happened, and with God’s will, she survived.
Carmen was fond of her family, her daughters and nieces and nephews recorded voice notes to help her heal, and nurses would religiously play those voice notes in her room, in addition to religious hymns, old songs she loved, and Christmas carols. The unexpected happened and “Coco” peacefully opened her eyes, and she told her family that she saw Saint Charbel in her sleep and he told her “Do not fear, I am here with you.”
Three days later, Carmen underwent multiple tests and she told her family and doctors that she couldn’t see a thing. This came as a shock to her loved ones who thought her struggle was over, but instead, it was just the beginning. Carmen might have lost her vision, but she did not lose her faith in God who gave her a second chance at life. Carmen’s family hopes a day will come when all of this will be a distant memory behind her and she will be with her loved ones as a mother and a grandmother.
Carmen was loved by the medical team at the hospital, and she was praised for her strength and faith; she defeated all odds as she came back to life. Yet, the Lebanese government did not do right by her or by all those who were injured or lost their lives in the third biggest explosion in the world. The only justice Carmen and those other people deserve is the truth about those who were behind this crime. It is important to note that Carmen’s family covered her medical bills, hoping treatment for her case is available as soon as possible.