I first met David (not his real name) in 2012. He had come to the United States from a Middle Eastern country and decided to seek asylum here. At the time, many democracy activists from his country were fleeing a government crackdown. One of David’s family members—a prominent member of the pro-democracy movement—referred him to me. David is a member of a religious minority, and he is a Biomedical Engineer by training. In his home country, he and his family members faced some pretty harrowing instances of persecution on account of their religion and their democratic leanings.

Fortunately, David’s asylum case was granted. He later became a lawful permanent resident, and he is currently in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.

{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","height":"206","width":"299","src":"https:\/\/www.asylumist.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2020\/04\/Police-Tribute.png"} Police officers pay tribute to David and other hospital workers.


In the mean time, he obtained his equivalency degree, which allows him to work in his field in the United States (this is a somewhat obnoxious process, whereby a private agency certifies that a foreign degree “is equivalent to” a degree from an institution in the U.S.). He got a job as a Biomedical Engineer at a large hospital in the United States, and was promoted several times over the course of a few years.

When the pandemic started, David was tapped to lead a medical equipment project at the hospital’s command center, and to build up a new department to deal with the crisis. He and his team are working around the clock to receive, assemble, build, inspect, and install equipment such as ventilators, IV pumps, bed side monitors, servers, and more.

Fueled by obscene amounts of espresso, in one week, David and his team installed and uploaded drug libraries for 1000 IV pumps and installed 600 IV poles. They also installed and inspected more than 200 ventilators and 200 ICU beds. In addition, to get ready for COVID-19 patients, they prepared and installed medical equipment--such as central bedside monitors, ICU beds, nurse call devices, and ventilators--for three new departments at the hospital. All this while working in an environment where the coronavirus is a ubiquitous threat.

{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","height":"199","width":"200","src":"https:\/\/www.asylumist.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2020\/04\/medical-equipment-300x300.jpg"} Medical equipment prepared by David and his team.


I asked David how he feels about all that he has accomplished since the pandemic began, and despite the difficult circumstances, he uses words like “great” and “awesome” because, he says, he is not just doing a job, he is really helping to save lives. Also, he is proud that even though he has only been at the hospital for a few years, he is responsible for critical parts of the mission and for training a team that is working through the pandemic.

David’s work is incredibly impressive. He is helping to save many lives. But the fact is, he is not all that unique. According to a 2019 study in Health Affairs, 1 in 4 healthcare workers in the United States is foreign-born. It’s ironic that at a time when immigrants and asylum seekers are under assault by the federal government, they are playing such an outsize role in our fight against the coronavirus. I only hope that more Americans will come to appreciate how people like David are selflessly working to protect Americans from the deadly pandemic.

{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","height":"225","width":"180","src":"https:\/\/www.asylumist.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2020\/04\/Espreso-2-240x300.jpg"} Espresso kept the team going.


One final point, and I think this speaks to David’s character and his bravery during this difficult time. I remember when we were preparing his asylum case, I asked him about whether he faced any harm in his country. He mentioned a few incidents and could not think of anything more. Then, his relative asked, “Didn’t the extremists shoot you?” Yes, he responded, they did try to shoot him, but the bullet passed over his shoulder and hit a wall behind him. Since they missed, David hadn’t really paid much attention to the incident. I imagine that this type of grace under fire (literally) is serving him well in his current role.

If you would like to support David in his life-saving work, consider making a donation to Direct Relief, a national non-profit that has been helping to get protective gear and critical care medications to as many health workers as possible.

Originally post on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com