MANHATTAN, N.Y. (PIX11) — May is American Stroke Awareness Month.

A New York City lawyer with a heart of gold survived a stroke 10 years ago. Now, he is helping asylum seekers live their American dream.

Pierre Georges Bonnefil got a second chance at life when his wife took action as soon as she recognized the signs he was suffering from a stroke. She called 911.

Bonnefil said he is lucky to be alive. Now, he said it’s his time to give back.

He’s telling his story because, he says, if it can happen to him — a healthy, successful attorney with no prior health problems — it can happen to anyone.

Bonnefil still feels the effects now and then; weakness on his left side and moments of confusion. But he feels that what he’s been through has given him a sense of purpose. 

Now he works full-time, is a partner at Duane Morris, and spends hundreds of hours yearly providing pro-bono services to immigrants who might not get legal representation. He’s won life-and-death cases for transgender asylum seekers who can’t return to their country. 

He also helps raise awareness with the American Heart Association.

Dr. Neal Parikh is a neurologist at Weill Cornell. He said stories like Bonnefil’s are a critical demonstration of why knowing the signs and acting fast is so important.

If you notice your face is drooping or your arm is weak, if your speech is slurred or incoherent, it’s time to call 911. 

Bonnefil said stroke recovery is about healing both mind and body. He’s grateful every day to be back with his family living life to the fullest.