Doctor Saves Baby’s Life. 30 Years Later, the Favor Is Returned.


This story is being featured as part of our “Yahoo Best Stories of 2015” series. It was originally published on April 2, 2015

“It’s amazing to watch [my patients] all grow up, but to have one come back in your life, on a day you really need it — that’s really incredible,” Dr. Michael Shannon — here with Chris Trokey and other emergency workers — says of being rescued from a car crash by a grown-up preemie he saved long ago. (Photo: Chris Trokey/Facebook)

Thirty-plus years ago, San Clemente, Calif. doctor Michael Shannon worked tirelessly to keep a premature 3.2-pound baby alive after the boy was given a 50 percent chance of survival. Fast-forward to March 29, 2011 and that preemie, Chris Trokey, returned the favor. Now a firefighter-paramedic, Trokey helped rescue Shannon with the Jaws of Life from his burning SUV after the pediatrician was hit by a semi truck on Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point, Calif.

The duo’s latest reunion – four years to the day of their dramatic encounter – at a fundraiser for the childhood cancer research charity St. Baldrick’s in Rancho Santa Margarita on Sunday has warmed the hearts of thousands who are in awe of their serendipitous story. KTLA’s video of the sweet event has 20,000 “likes” and is still counting.

“I do believe that things are supposed to happen when they do,” Shannon tells Yahoo Parenting about the miraculous coincidence that it was Trokey who saved his life. “I see examples of this almost daily in my life and practice.”

Yet Trokey reveals that he had no idea who he was helping when he and the Orange County Fire Authority responded to Shannon’s crash that fateful day. “I didn’t know about until I went to the hospital and started talking about it, Dr. Shannon,” the first responder tells KTLA. “And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, Dr. Shannon?’ That’s when I found out.”

Just hearing his rescuer’s name was enough to jog Shannon’s recollection too. “I remember family names relatively easily,” the pediatrician tells Yahoo Parenting. “So I remembered Trokey when I found out his name after I got to the hospital.”

During Shannon’s 45-day recuperation to heal his burns and internal injuries, and recover from the amputation of two toes at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, the men bonded anew.


Photo: KTLA

“It would be hard to put into a few sentences what Dr. Shannon means to me,” Trokey tells Yahoo Parenting. “He is one of the most knowledgeable and caring pediatricians I’ve ever met. He’s been doing this for 42 years and could have been long since retired, but he keeps doing it because he loves it. I am just one of many that have a strong connection with him, and am very lucky for that.”


Dr. Michael Shannon. (Photo: KTLA)

And things have come full circle for the duo: Shannon has taken on Trokey’s child as a patient. “I’m grateful to have him as my son Porter’s pediatrician,” says the new dad. “I could not imagine taking my son to anyone else.”


The Trokeys with Shannon. (Photo: KTLA)

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