Immigrants Saved My Life, Now It's Our Turn to Save Theirs

By Robyn Hammontree. 

When I was in high school, I was in a snowmobile accident that should have killed me.

I broke my left leg in four places, including a compound fracture of the femur. I collapsed a lung and had spleen damage. I broke my right hand and fractured my left shoulder.

They sent the coroner to the scene of the accident. I went to two emergency rooms, spent 10 days in intensive care, and a total of two months in the hospital over the next year.

The surgeon at the trauma center in Flint, Michigan pieced me back together with 20 screws, a rod, and two plates. Dr. Dass oversaw my care and two more surgeries over the next two years.

He saved my life. He was an immigrant from India.

Eight months after the accident, we found out I had a massive bone infection due to the exposure of the femur. I had to have a permanent IV which I administered myself three times a day, and I couldn’t attend school for almost a year because of how sick I was.

But once a week for eight months, I drove to Flint to see Dr. Abuhammour, my infectious disease specialist. He was the sweetest man, and not only did he save my life, he made me smile at a time when I was so lonely. It meant so much to my little heart.

He was an immigrant from Jordan.

For almost two years after my accident, I went to see my physical therapist every other day. He pushed on my leg until I cried to get it to bend. He made me walk, and bike, and run. And some days, I hated him for it so much I wouldn’t even talk to him.

But there, in the midst of all that pain, he taught me some of the greatest things I've ever learned. And my leg can do anything yours can now. It can jump and bike and swim and run marathons.

Ajay was an immigrant from India, and he saved my life, too.

Immigrants have saved my life over and over and over again. So when I say that I owe it to them to fight for them, I do not say it lightly. I say it knowing that without them, I would not be here.


Hear the poem "Home" by Kenyan-Somali poet, Warsan Shire. 

Poem: Why I Say We

Poem: Why I Say We

How I Survived It: a poem by Robyn Hammontree