Durbin Announces Chicago's Dr. Zaher Sahloul, President of MedGlobal, As State of the Union in Guest in Senate Floor Speech

In his remarks, Durbin highlighted Dr. Sahloul’s extensive resume of offering medical aid during humanitarian crises

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today delivered a speech on the Senate floor to announce his guest forthe State of the Union, Dr. Zaher Sahloul.  A resident of Chicago, Dr. Sahloul, who currently serves as a critical care specialist, an associate professor, and the president of MedGlobal, has an extensive resume and a long history offering humanitarian and medical aid to war-torn areas. 

“I’m hosting an extraordinary resident of my state, Dr. Zaher Sahloul.  Dr. Sahloul is a critical care specialist at Advocate Christ Medical Center and Saint Anthony’s Hospital.  He’s an Associate Professor in Clinical Medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago, but he is much, much more than that,” Durbin began.

“Dr. Sahloul has a long history of leading timely, and often dangerous, medical missions to some of the most desperate parts the world, including recently a trip to Gaza.  You see, Dr. Sahloul is the president of MedGlobal, a nonprofit that provides critical medical services in areas of crisis,” Durbin said.

Before joining MedGlobal, Dr. Sahloul led the Syrian American Medical Society.  With this organization, he and other volunteer doctors provided urgent care to populations in need in Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, and Bangladesh.  In 2017, Durbin traveled to Bangladesh in the wake of the Burmese military’s attack on the Rohingya people to see Dr. Sahloul’s efforts first-hand.

“In 2017, when the Burmese military was attacking that country’s Rohingya population with unspeakable cruelty, he [Dr. Sahloul] and his colleagues helped the war-weary refugees who were fleeing into Bangladesh.  I had the chance to visit him and witness these efforts first-hand at one such camp in the Bangladeshi city of Cox’s Bazar,” Durbin said.

“I will never forget walking through the sea of desperate humanity and seeing what he and his colleagues were doing to bring basic dignity and basic medical care to this traumatized population.  It was truly heroic,” Durbin recalled.

In recognition of his dedicated efforts, Dr. Sahloul has received the Gandhi Award for Peace, the Heartland Alliance Kovler Center for Dr. Robert Kirschner’s Award for Global Activism, and UNICEF Chicago’s Shine a Light on Global Refugee Crisis annual humanitarian award. 

“I believe that Dr. Sahloul epitomizes humanity’s goodness during times of conflict and trauma.  And it is my honor to have him as my guest tomorrow night,” Durbin said.

Durbin continued his speech, highlighting Dr. Sahloul and MedGlobal’s work to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza following the October Hamas attack.

“His most recent work in Gaza is a stark reminder of the dire humanitarian needs unfolding in this current crisis that started with the horrific October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.  He shared with me and several of my colleagues deeply troubling stories of innocent people caught in this conflict who are in desperate need of basic medical attention and supplies.  Operations and amputations occurring using vinegar as an antiseptic, or Tylenol for anesthesia, in the amputation of children’s limbs, or expectant mothers without safe medical facilities to give birth,” said Durbin.

Durbin commended the Biden Administration’s decision to send emergency supplies to the region, but he acknowledged that more must be done to put an end to the suffering.  Durbin reiterated the need for a ceasefire by all sides combined with the release of hostages, which he first called for on November 2.

“The United States has started airdropping emergency supplies into Gaza.  It is a relatively small step, but it is a step in the right direction, although not a long-term solution to the conflict.  I have long called for a ceasefire by all sides that includes the release of the remaining Israeli hostages,” said Durbin.

“I hope that is the case.  And I hope that any such pause can be used to reunite hostages with their families and deliver desperately needed humanitarian aid into Gaza.  I continue to believe in the two-state solution, one with new leadership on all sides.  I think it is the only viable, long-term path forward,” Durbin continued.

Durbin concluded his remarks by expressing his gratitude to Dr. Sahloul for attending the State of the Union as his guest.

“In tomorrow’s State of the Union address, President Biden will not only fulfill one of his most important constitutional obligations, but he will also have the opportunity to highlight to America how his administration has been working with congressional Democrats to improve the lives of our nation’s working families,” said Durbin. 

“I am honored to be joined by a guest who embodies the best of America – selflessness, a commitment to service, and a belief that a single individual has the ability to make the world a better place,” Durbin concluded. 

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.