Man injured skydiving is back to work at hospital that helped him

One Central Texas man is used to helping people. He works at one of the trauma center hospitals in Austin. But one day -- he became the patient.

AUSTIN - Kevin Fenton is used to helping people as an employee at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, but one day, he became the patient. 

Fenton has a unique job at the Medical Center.

“These are screws, these are spinal implants right here,” said Fenton as he showed KVUE a pile of screws in baggies. 

He helps schedule all the implants and equipment needed for important surgeries. 

"This will end up into some needy person's body,” said Fenton. 

St. David's South is in pursuit of a Level 2 trauma status, meaning they see some of the most critical patients.

"We have orthopedic trauma, we have head injuries, face injuries, we have back injuries,” said Fenton. 

But earlier this year, it was Fenton who ended up in a hospital bed.

"What went wrong on that whole thing, I really don't know,” said Fenton. 

He went skydiving, something he had done once before, and really enjoyed. 

"Skydiving was cool,” said Fenton. "After the first one, I was in love, and you know I was like, 'man, I'm going to do this.'"

But this time was different.

"I went out last, and hit the ground second,” said Fenton. "We just came in really hard.”

Fenton broke his spine in two places.

"Obviously it was excruciating pain,” said Fenton. 

As a trauma patient, they took him to a place he knew well. 

"Once I got here, almost immediately my family was here,” said Fenton. 

Not only were his three sons by his side, but also his work family

"It was familiar faces, even the ones I didn't recognize I knew they were a part of my family,” said Fenton. "They got me into surgery the next day, here's faces I see on a daily basis, I know the nurses that are taking care of me, I know the anesthesiologist that's taking care of me."

Trauma Surgeon Dr. Drue N. Ware was shocked to see his co-worker. 

"This can't be him, and then all of a sudden you've got his name, and, oh, Lord,” said Ware. 

This time, the person needing help was more than a patient, he was a friend. 

"We enjoy taking care of everybody, but clearly when you have the opportunity to take care of one of your own family members, it means a little bit more to you,” said Ware. 

"Doctor Ware, I see him, it's not a stretch to say almost every day,” said Fenton. "We speak on a regular basis, so it was a familiar face."

"I do see him almost every day, and it's quite a thrill to see him, anytime that you can get people back to their pre-injury level of activity and so forth, it means a great deal,” said Ware. "Seeing him each day is huge, it's just a reminder each day of why we do this, and why we continue to do it, because we know for every Kevin, there are multitudes of people out there that are doing as well.”

Even those tools Fenton works with every day have been necessary in his recovery.

"I have four of these in my spine,” said Fenton as he showed KVUE a large screw. 

Now, Fenton is back at work, and each day he's reminded of his co-workers healing help. 

"There was nurses that I've recognized walking down the hall, and I've stopped them and say, 'hey, wait, wait, wait, you took care of me,'" said Fenton. 

A care only his colleagues could provide. 

"They were so kind, and so reassuring that it was okay. If nothing else I've got to do it for these poor people that are rooting for me," said Fenton. “I've taken the time to say thank you, thank you for helping me.”

© 2018 KVUE-TV


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