Life can be completely serendipitous. Most of what happens to us, coincidence-wise, is usually the opposite. It’s someone cursing or lamenting terrible misfortune. But occasionally, just occasionally, the magic wand of serendipity waves in our general direction and comes as incredibly welcome, good news. Yes good news. There is such a thing Dorothy, and it’s not a lot of make believe like the Wizard of Oz and those supposed magic red shoes of yours. It’s good news and it’s real.The kind of good news that causes spirits to soar and hope to renew.
The story begins 30 years ago in the pediatric ward of a hospital in Orange County, California. Pediatrician Michael Shannon has a battle on his hands. A baby boy has been born several weeks premature. The child weighs less than a kilo and only has a 50/50 chance of survival. But Shannon is not giving up. He is determined to save this young life. And that is what he sets out to do. Providing, round the clock treatment until the baby boy’s health improves and he is out of danger. Shannon doesn’t know the child’s name. Even if he does, he won’t remember. It’s all in a day’s work for Michael Shannon. He is modest but, by all accounts, as Doctors go, Michael Shannon is pretty special. Now you might think this is the end of the good news story but if you did you would be wrong. It is only the beginning.
Fast forward to 2015. Michael Shannon is driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, in California when he is T-boned by a truck and semi-trailer. It is a serious crash, which Shannon is lucky to survive. But Michael Shannon is still in serious trouble. His SUV is crushed under the truck and Shannon is trapped inside the cabin, unable to move. Worse still his SUV is beginning to catch fire. Fire fighters from Paramedic Engine 29 are returning to base from another call when they hear of Michael Shannon’s emergency. They respond within minutes and arrive at the scene to discover the SUV is now fully ablaze and the flames are burning Michael Shannon’s legs. The fire crew, quickly begin extinguishing the flames but one of the crewman is focused on rescuing Michael Shannon and won’t give up until he has completed the job. He begins by using the Jaws Of Life cutting equipment to slice through the metal, creating a hole large enough for Michael Shannon to be pulled through. It is a slow process but in the end he is successful. However, the fire fighter who had doggedly cut through steel to rescue Michael Shannon isn’t done. He then helps to carry his patient to a waiting ambulance and to hospital for emergency surgery.
Shannon is seriously injured and will take 45 days to recover. Two of his toes have to be amputated but he is alive thanks to the quick work of his rescuers, and by one of them in particular. The name of that rescuer, who cut Michael Shannon free, is Chris Trokey. He decides to visit his patient in hospital and it is then that both men discover serendipity. It turns out Chris Trokey is the premature baby that Michael Shannon worked so diligently to save 30 years ago. The baby he rescued became his rescuer. And for Michael Shannon it was nothing short of incredible. “It’s amazing to watch them all grow up, but to have one come back in your life, on a day you really need it, that’s really incredible,” Shannon said. Chris Trokey was equally dumbfounded when the penny finally dropped about his connection with Michael Shannon. “I didn’t know about it until I went to the hospital and started talking about it, Dr. Shannon. And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, Dr. Shannon?’” Trokey said. “That’s when I found out.”
And serendipity even has a way of coming full circle. Chris Trokey is now a father himself. And guess who his child’s pediatrician now is? You guessed it. Michael Shannon. Ah serendipity. You’ve got to love it.