He's now a surgeon at the hospital that saved his life

Kevin Morton with Dr. Dharti Sheth, the surgeon who saved his life and inspired his career in medicine.

Story highlights

  • Kevin Morton was shot during a robbery in 2007, when he was 22
  • After he recovered, he went to medical school

(CNN)On Kevin Morton's first night in the operating room, he wasn't wearing scrubs. His mind was reeling, his body shuddering and failing.

It comes back to him in flashes.
    In July 2007, when he was 22, he was balancing college classes and working 48-hour weeks as the manager of a Detroit Arby's. Shifts at the restaurant often lasted until after midnight, and this particular night was no exception. Morton dismissed his co-workers, finished his closing duties and walked out to the quiet parking lot alone.
      "My car was in reverse when I saw the shadow (of a man) coming up," Morton said.
      There was a flash of light and a loud noise; Morton knew that he had been shot in the stomach. The man robbed him and ran away.
      Morton's first thought was that the hospital, St. John, was too far of a drive. He knew there was a police station a few miles down the street, since officers would often stop by Arby's for lunch. Though his body was fading rapidly, Morton somehow steered his car to the road, set for the station.
        He didn't make it far. Morton passed out, but from what he was told, he swerved off the road and was found by a passer-by, who dialed 911. He briefly remembers being inside of an ambulance, an oxygen mask covering his face.
        The second time he woke, he was on an emergency room table, having his clothes ripped off by doctors.
        "All I could think about was my younger sisters," said Morton, now 31. "It's funny, but that's the only thought I had. I kept thinking, 'I have to stay alive for them.' "

        Beating the odds

        Dr. Dharti Sheth, a surgeon, was on call in the St. John trauma center the night Morton was shot. She heard the dispatch: a code 1 trauma patient shot in the abdomen, one of the most vulnerable areas of the body.
        Luckily, the bullet spared Morton's vital organs.
        "He had no vital organ injuries," Sheth said. "He was alert, amazingly. I had to convince him that he was going to be OK."
        Despite Sheth's reassurance to her patient, Morton had about a 10% chance of surviving for more than 24 hours, Sheth recalled. The gunshot had pierced his stomach, damaging his large and small intestines. Most critically, half of Morton's pancreas had been destroyed.