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A shooting victim finally has to thank the medical student who saved him 25 years ago


Now, 25 years later, Baltimore resident Damon Walker was reunited earlier this month with a medical student who drove toward the chaos instead of running away from it.

“I keep thinking about that moment when I was in the gutter and there was no hope left to live,” Walker told CNN on Friday. “I said a simple prayer that it would be good if someone came to pick me up.”

Walker said he couldn’t believe it when a car pulled up and “an angel” came to his aid. That’s Dr. Michael Franks. A medical student at the time, Franks saved Walker’s life that night on New Year’s Day 1996.

November reunion, as seen on CNN branch WBAL, is the first time Walker and Franks meet after the trauma of that night telling their stories together. Walker and his mother found Good Samaritan after some online searches and a phone call to Franks, a urologist with Virginia Urology. The Franks don’t know what happened to Walker, or even if he survived.
The birth of her daughter reunites with the Boston Marathon bombing survivor with the nurse caring for her after the attack

“We talk, we connect, hug a little and then we go to lunch across the street from my office and just talk a little more and work things out, not to close the door, but was to see where he was and what happened,” Franks, 52, told CNN.

“I think the worst thing when someone has a spinal cord injury, it’s a tough life,” says Franks. “He looks really good. He has the most positive vibes ever.”

Both of them were strict in that moment, but the emotion was still there. Walker said.

Damon Walker thanks the man who saved his life on New Year's Day 1996.

“It’s still a bit bizarre in a sense, but I guess it brings some ending,” said Walker, 44. “I just wanted to express my thanks and gratitude.”

He doesn’t have much longer to live

They revisit what happened that night and the moment that brought them together.

Walker, then 18, left the club with friends around 3 a.m. after a New Year’s Eve party. Walker said they were trying to catch a taxi near Oriole Park in Camden Yards when a car pulled up with several men in it. A fight broke out and several men assaulted Walker.

“He grabbed me and put me on the ground,” Walker said.

Walker gave what he had, hoping the attackers would walk away after the robbery. Walker jumped to his feet as they left and was met with three shots – one in the thumb, one in the chest, and a third in the stomach.

As he fell to the ground, Walker realized he was paralyzed. He prayed for someone to come help him, and that’s when Franks showed up.

“He’s going through traffic, he’s going against the flow of traffic that people are running,” Walker said. “He’s been through it, and you don’t really see a lot of people doing that kind of thing.”

Dr. Michael Franks was a medical student when he heard gunshots and found Walker on the street.

Franks said he heard gunfire. Soon after, he got out of the car and found Walker had been shot and was barely breathing.

As a medical student at the University of Maryland at the time, Franks knew Walker was struggling. He opened his flip phone and considered dialing 911, but he realized he could take Walker to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, which is nearby.

“If anyone can take care of this guy, who probably has 10 to 15 minutes to live, that is the place,” Franks said. “So I just made the decision to let him get in the car and take him to the front door to cut off 911.”

How Walker is giving back to other victims

Franks says he’s not looking for attention. The self-identified introvert is a surgeon accustomed to medical emergencies.

“It’s hard for me to talk about that,” Franks said. “I’m a doer, I think anyone would do it, but I know maybe in retrospect, maybe not.”

While some people think of Franks as a hero, he thinks the real story is about Walker and the remarkable way he chose to live his life and give back to his community.

According to authorities, a kind-hearted Samaritan jumped into the water and saved a toddler who had fallen out of a car.

After being discharged from the hospital, undergoing physical therapy and adjusting to life in a wheelchair, Walker said he devoted himself to studying and reading, as he was then “functionally illiterate”.

He worked as a peer advisor. And now he is a violence prevention specialist at a local hospital. Walker tries to get shooting or stabbing victims with jobs or support them whenever he can.

Walker recalls the level of care he received when he was shot and how well everyone took care of him, from helping him medically to making him smile when he needed it.

“If you help these people heal, you may be healing more than one bullet wound,” he said. “You may be healing some aspect of distrust of the system, of distrust of people who can now provide understanding to others going through the same thing.”

Walker said letting Franks know how he gives back to his community is part of why he wants to reconnect with him.

“I wanted to let him know that what he did was not only helping to save me, but also helping to save my community,” Walker said. “I know I wouldn’t have been able to contribute that (to my community) without him helping me that day.”

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