US-trained emergency doctor Nour al-Jalbout wanted desperately to serve her fellow Lebanese, but less than two years after returning home she says the country’s catastrophes are forcing her to leave. “I gave everything I had to Lebanon for these two years, but Lebanon is not giving back,” she says, her eyes welling up above three face masks, inside a top Beirut hospital. “So I applied for immigration to the US,” she said, to take up a job offer at Harvard. As soon as her visa is approved, she will join hundreds of doctors who are fleeing Lebanon’s political and economic crises, even during a pandemic. Doctors warn a country once dubbed “the hospital of the Arab world” is haemorrhaging its best and brightest. Hair tied back into a floral surgeon’s cap, the 32-year-old medic rushes around the bustling emergency department at the American University of Beirut Medical Center. Her white coat streaked with blood from treating one patient’s gunshot wounds, she holds up an X-ray to understand the pain of another visiting from a nearby Arab country. In the corridor between the emergency and coronavirus wards under her watch, trainee doctors repeatedly approach her for a second opinion. The decision to leave, she says, “eats you up every day”. But “you’re doing what’s best for you and your kids if you want to have a family.” Since starting work in September 2019, she has treated wounded protesters, witnessed economic freefall, fought a pandemic, and helped treat hundreds after a massive explosion in Beirut. ‘Catastrophic’ She was at the hospital on August 4 when hundreds of tonnes of fertiliser exploded at the port, killing more than 200 people and sending shockwaves through the capital. “The ceiling fell on us,” she says, pausing between tears. Up to 500 wounded streamed in, followed by desperate relatives looking for their loves ones.