Fact Check: Did Hôtel-Dieu Hospital Refuse To Release Deceased Infant To Her Parents?

A video circulating on social media has slammed Hôtel-Dieu de France Hospital in Beirut over a situation where a large sum of money came between a Lebanese family from Tripoli and the hospital.

Claim: Hôtel-Dieu is refusing to hand over the body of deceased 2-month-old Maria El-Abed because her family cannot afford to pay the hospital bill amounting to 40,000,000 LBP.

This is according to a video by activist Rabih El-Zein, known to lead road-blocking protesters in North Lebanon, where he angrily threatens to wreak havoc over the issue.

The infant was born with a heart defect that left her with half a heart. Her parents had desperately raised enough money in their hometown in Tripoli in order to submit her for treatment.

However, she didn’t make it and now, her family is not only grieving her loss but is also 40,000,000 LBP in debt to the hospital, which will not hand over their daughter’s corpse unless they pay the due amount.

Verdict: Partially false.

Context: The961 reached out to the hospital and learned that by the time Rabih El-Zein had released the video, the infant was already with her family. However, the family is still required to pay the hospital.

Additionally, Hôtel-Dieu’s administration released a statement rejecting the allegations saying that it “goes against its principles and its mission of providing care to all citizens.”

The hospital ensured that this method has “never been adopted in its policy towards its patients and their families, especially on a delicate subject such as handing over the body to the family.”

Lebanon’s hospitals have been continuously overwhelmed with the pandemic and the economic disaster, in addition to the pressure they’ve had to face during the August 4 Beirut Port explosion.

Hundreds of doctors and nurses have left the country in search of better opportunities elsewhere. Like many professionals, their salaries have been rendered more or less worthless.

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