College Essay: The Day I Saved My Brother

Flashing in front of me were two worlds that would soon come shattering into millions of pieces at any second: mine and his. Even though I am younger than my brother, he depends on me because he is disabled. Back in Thailand when my brother was still just a couple months old, he became really ill. Clueless, my parents suggested they should take my brother to the hospital, hoping doctors could help save their child. Unfortunately, taking my brother to the hospital was a big mistake. Back then, physicians lacked the skills to distinguish the difference between what kinds of medications and shots were for infants and adults. My brother was born a healthy baby, but, after receiving bad care from the physician, he was left permanently physically and mentally disabled and part of his life was taken away.

Pa Dee Yang, Harding Sr. High
Pa Dee Yang, Harding Sr. High

At the age of 16, I was chosen to be in charge of nine kids while my parents were out of the house. The kids ranged in age from my youngest brother who was 9 months old to my older brother who was 19. I felt a lot of pressure because of the big responsibility on my shoulders. I gave my older brother a snack and then turned my attention to my baby brother for just a second. The moment I diverted my attention back to my older brother, I noticed his face was desperate for attention and turning purple. His eyes glistened with tears; he was in desperate need of air. I swiftly ran toward him. I shouted at my sisters and cousins for help, while I made my way behind my brother. I lifted him with all my might and settled him onto my lap. All I could think was to do the Heimlich maneuver, which I learned from watching YouTube videos. I didn’t know if I was doing it correctly, if I would injure him internally, or if I was wasting time.

My older, disabled brother depends on me to take care of him, and I had failed him.

Once my sisters and cousins made their way up, I shouted for my cousin to grab water. For a split second I remembered what my grandma said to my mom: “Never drink water if you feel like food isn’t going down.” Loudly, I shouted at my cousin to abandon the water. I noticed my sisters and cousins were panicking, and I too was in the mode of a disoriented emotional breakdown. However, as the oldest one there, I had to hold back from letting my emotions loose and focus on keeping everyone from panicking. My emotional distress was high. It was between life and death.

Without pausing to catch my breath due to exhaustion I continued to perform the technique. It seemed endless. Surprisingly my sister shouted, “He got it out!” with strands of tears streaming down her cheeks alongside my brother, too. There ,in the palm of her hands sat the big piece of bagel that was lodged in my brother’s throat moments ago. I finally took one big relieving breath after checking the tone of my brother’s face, let that ball of emotion out, and bawled like a baby.

After coming face-to-face with the challenge of saving someone so dear to me, I realized I am confident working my way through decisions under pressure. In the future, when I’m in college or at my professional job or with my friends and family, I know I can tame challenges when I’m faced with them. Because of the experience I had, I know I can rely on my instinct when making decisions for myself or for others. The situation helped naturally unfold my individual independent strength in self-trust to build a bridge between my goals and my motivation.