Hours before, I was at my high school’s first football game of the year. This all happened a long time ago, when I was a teenager, but I can still call to mind the sound of the school bands and cheerleaders. Shortly after the game, a fight broke out in a nearby park. I turned, and saw flashes of light. That’s what I remember about the moment I was shot: flashes of light. Time seemed to slow down. People were screaming and running around me. My white shirt was covered in blood. My friends, frantic, implored me to lie down. My mouth filled with blood, and I began to choke. As I discovered later, the .38-caliber bullet had ripped a hole in my windpipe and injured my carotid artery. I was bleeding into my airway.

The trauma surgeon was named Robert Ahmed. He saved my life that night by punching a hole in my windpipe, a procedure known as a tracheostomy. Dipankar Mukherjee, a vascular surgeon, made an incision in my left leg and removed a piece of vein to form a patch for the hole in my carotid artery.