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Preemie baby grows up, saves the life of the doctor that saved him.

Posted by on Apr. 10, 2015 at 4:22 PM
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Dr. Michael Shannon knew the odds were stacked against the sickly, 3-pound, 22-ounce preemie Chris Trokey but, still, Shannon camped out at Mission Hospital to help the tiny baby fight for his life.

During those critical hours, he never imagined that same baby would grow up and return the favor.

But 30 years later, when Dr. Shannon’s Chevrolet Suburban slammed into a truck stopped on Pacific Coast Highway one early morning in 2011, trapping him in the wreckage and catching him on fire, it was a strong and healthy Trokey who came to the rescue.

Recently reunited to raise money for St. Baldrick’s Foundation to fight childhood cancer, it dawned on them just how intertwined their lives are.

“What are the odds? I can’t imagine,” said Trokey, now a paramedic with the Orange County Fire Authority. “I don’t think he realizes how lucky he was. Any other night, and we wouldn’t have gotten to him in time.”

The crew at Station 29 had been busy all night with call after call, recalled Trokey.

“That night was pretty crazy, and we were just pulling back into the station at 4:30 in the morning when the call came in,” he said.

Had the firefighters been in bed or out on another call, they couldn’t have gotten to Dr. Shannon in time.

“You pulled up, and you could just tell it’s something bad,” said Trokey. “It’s one of those calls that stands out because it doesn’t happen very often.”

It was a morning Dr. Shannon could never forget.

“I was driving to Dana Point to walk with a friend like I do every Tuesday, and as I’m coming out of the curve, all I can see is white. It turned out to be the side of a delivery truck,” said Dr. Shannon. “I could hear crashing glass, and the impact pushed the steering wheel into my abdomen and the dash into the top of my knees.”

Dr. Shannon was trapped. His Black Suburban was crumpled, and the engine caught fire, sending flames up from the accelerator, melting Dr. Shannon’s shoe and burning his legs. Using the Jaws of Life to pull off his car door, it took firefighters 20 minutes to free him from the wreckage.

Trokey loaded him onto the ambulance and took Dr. Shannon to the very hospital where the two first met. It was then that the two realized their connection.

“He was in the hospital for 45 days, and we visited him as a crew,” said Trokey. “He remembered my parents.”

But it didn’t instantly dawn on the pair right away just how intertwined their lives were. It would take four more years of Dr. Shannon bringing dinner to Station 29 on the anniversary of his crash and recruiting Trokey to shave his head to raise money to fight childhood cancer for them to get to talking about their connection.

“It was the most dramatic thing to ever happen to me,” said Dr. Shannon. “I sort of believe there is a higher order to things, and this...well Chris was just one of three of my grown-up babies in the (rescue) crew that day.”

He remembered Trokey “because you remember the names of the ones you spend a lot of time with,” said Dr. Shannon. “He was an extreme preemie, and there were no ICU doctors. I felt like I had to make sure he was ok.”

As a pediatrician for 42 years, Dr. Shannon is somewhat of a celebrity in South Orange County.

“He just takes his time with everyone, he explains everything very well, and he really cares,” said OCFA Capt. Steve Concialdi, a former patient, who went on to take his three kids to Dr. Shannon.

Known for his gentle humor, his patience and his cowboy boots, Dr. Shannon treats dozens of his former patients’ babies every week. He even cares for Trokey’s three-month-old son now, four years after that fateful morning.

Whether it was kismet, coincidence or a higher power that brought them together, Dr. Shannon couldn’t say.

But maybe there’s a lesson to take from it, he said.

Forty-two years ago when he first began his practice and had to go knocking on doors looking for patients, a mentor told him, “Quietly do a good job, and they’ll come knocking at yours.”

Maybe even when you need them most.

by on Apr. 10, 2015 at 4:22 PM
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