Review of The Intriguing New Memoir, “I Am The Storm” by Brooklyn Heights Nephrologist Morrell Michael Avram
Morrell Michael Avram, a Brooklyn Heights local, is more than a friendly neighbor. As his new memoir, I Am The Storm: My Odyssey From The Holocaust To The Frontiers of Medicine shows, his life was anything but average. Avram is a survivor of the holocaust, a pioneer in medicine, a veteran, a husband, and a father, as well as an acclaimed doctor.
Avram was separated from his mother and sister during the Holocaust, where for six years he survived with his father in Romania. Eventually, after much work, the family was able to reunite and settle in Manhattan. Avram, who had already lived through so much after being threatened by Nazis and living to survive for a large portion of his childhood, began his journey with medicine. After several failures, and a tour with the U.S. Army during the Korean War, Avram began his work at the Long Island College Hospital. The U.S. Army mantra reminded him to persevere: “You are the storm! No one will ever stop you! When you get ambushed, you will march forward and defeat the enemy!” He maintained his grit and perseverance and became one of the first nephrologists in the U.S., then went on and was a major pioneer for dialysis treatment. After a lifetime of saving patients, Avram’s story is exciting and unlike any you’ve read before.
After Avram learned that the Long Island College Hospital, where he was a resident, had no tools or methods to save a patient from kidney failure, he made the decision to focus on kidneys. That began his life’s work. In the prologue of I Am The Storm, Avram recounts the first time he took a chance on dialysis. He had a patient who other hospitals had given up on, and although other doctors told him he was crazy, he removed both her kidneys, saved her life, and put her on dialysis for the next 38 years of her life. Intertwining war, medicine, the complexities of being Jewish, language barriers, and his own personal relationships, Avram’s story outlines not just the events of his life, but the ways in which they affect him. Hardships came with successes, but successes came with failures, and failures brought new opportunities. Avram’s work, he writes, is dedicated to making the human race, “a smidgen better” — and with his founding of the Brooklyn Kidney Center, 150 peer-reviewed papers, and 30,000 patients served in Brooklyn alone, he made good on his goals.
An author of hundreds of papers and 12 books, Avram’s writing is quick, clear, concise, and intriguing. He draws each chapter together, leading one story into the next, and carries the reader swiftly through the ups and downs of his life. An easy-to-follow story, Avram’s memoir feels less like a recounting of his life, and more like storytelling. Avram recounts one crucial element of his career: “I have never been bored.” Readers will not be bored either.
Currently, Avram is a resident of Brooklyn Heights. He fell in love with Brooklyn, and moved his family to the Heights in 1970. He and his wife, Maria, have lived here for over 50 years now. Neighbors who know Avram celebrate and rejoice in Avram, his story, and especially the heroism he so humbly expresses.
It is with this humility and his sustained grit that Avram ends his book. In the final paragraph, Avram answers the phone in the middle of the night and takes a call to the hospital. At ninety one years old, Avram is continuing his work. Although I Am The Storm may be a memoir with a conclusion, Avram isn’t done playing out his life, and as he continues his work, he makes good on his promise to make the world “a smidgen better.”
I Am The Storm: My Odyssey From The Holocaust To The Frontiers of Medicine by Morrell Michael Avram was published by Skyhorse Publishing and is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever books are sold.
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