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Inspirational autobiography by Brooklyn Heights nephrologist, from Holocaust to miracles in medicine

April 4, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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“How Dr. Avram managed to forge beauty and purpose out of a life begun in cruelty and terror is a testament to his courage, temperament, and to his generous and determined mind, indeed to his soul. A Jewish boy is trapped in Nazi-held Bucharest, where the anti-Semitic savagery of the Romanians is at least equal to that of the Germans. Miraculously he makes it to America, where he becomes a physician and scientist whose imagination and zeal have saved and will continue to save millions of more lives than he saw taken as a boy. Here is a story of redemption at its noblest level, inspired and inspiring.”

– Roger Rosenblatt, bestselling author of 18 books

Dr. Mike Avram during his service at Long Island Hospital.

One of the most generous patrons of arts and medicine in Brooklyn and Southampton is a shy, unassuming resident of Remsen Street named Dr. Morrell (Mike) Avram, who fell in love with Brooklyn Heights and the noble mission of Long Island College Hospital in its mid-20th century growth. (That mission was also embraced by the late Don Othmer, noted Heights inventor, chemical engineer and philanthropist who donated more than $ 100 million to LICH in its heyday.) Dr. Avram’s autobiography also captures the emergence of the Brooklyn Kidney Center, which he created. The center had the distinction of having kept alive the world’s longest-lived dialysis patient.

Morrell Avram, born in Bucharest, could have easily become one of the 200,000 Romanian Jews killed by the German Nazis or their Romanian allies. I AM THE STORM (Skyhorse Publishing) is the riveting true story of how he survived — and later triumphed as a pioneering doctor —  through a combination of grit and persistence.

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Dr. Avram with wife Maria, the love of his life, at a hospital event honoring them.

At age 11, Avram was separated from his mother and baby sister because the US Embassy would only allow them to immigrate on the condition that they leave Morrell and his father behind. What the family hoped would be a brief separation became six terrifying years. Amid the horrors of the war, Morrell had to fend mostly for himself, shuttling from relative to relative, hiding place to hiding place. Among his close calls: He longed to buy a ticket on the Struma, a ship taking Jewish refugees from Romania to Palestine, that was torpedoed and sank along with many of his friends. He walked into his bar mitzvah ceremony with dozens of Nazi soldiers stationed outside the synagogue. He was strafed and nearly killed by an American warplane. Upon finally escaping Romania and reuniting with his mother and sister, Avram faced a host of new challenges in New York. After getting through high school with minimal English, he was thrilled to get into college but found it impossible to juggle classes while working to help support his family. By age 21, it looked as if his dream of becoming a doctor was doomed. But relief came from an unlikely source—a draft notice from the US Army, which transformed him from an anxious “subway rat” into a focused soldier, driven by the words of his drill sergeant: “You are the storm! You are invincible!” Avram’s unlikely journey continued as a med student in Brussels and Geneva, as a young doctor in Brooklyn, and as one of the leaders of the new field of nephrology. He became a pathbreaking specialist in dialysis and kidney transplants, saving tens of thousands of patients personally and millions more through treatments he helped devise. 

Read our review of I Am The Storm, here. 

About the Author

Morrell M. Avram, M.D., is a graduate of Long Island University and the University of Geneva. For more than a half century he was affiliated with Long Island College Hospital as an intern, resident, chief resident, Chief of Nephrology, and Professor of Medicine. The founder of the Brooklyn Kidney Center, a leading dialysis center serving hospitals all over the borough, he has spoken at conferences around the world and has written or edited 12 books and more than 150 papers for leading medical journals. Dr. Avram and his wife of nearly 60 years, Maria, have five children and twelve grandchildren.

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