Parents keep vigil over injured son

Michael and Evelyn Morgan, with their youngest son Evan, spend most of their waking hours at MUSC, where their son Shannon, 16, is recovering from an October vehicle crash in Ladson.

For nearly six weeks now, Evelyn and Michael Morgan have sat in a hospital room, waiting for their son to come back to them.

Shannon lies there in a neck brace, hooked up to IVs and a feeding tube. He hardly moves, and doesn't respond to voices. His eyes are open, but he does not see.

"We're just waiting for him to wake up," Michael Morgan said.

He's been this way since October, when he crashed his grandparents' SUV on Miles Jamison Road near the intersection of Ladson Road.

No one is sure what happened: There were no passengers, no witnesses, and no one knew where Shannon was going. On a drizzly night, he flipped the vehicle and hit a phone pole.

When the ambulance arrived, called to the scene by a passing motorist, the EMTs barely got a blood pressure reading.

In the emergency room, they found that he had a collapsed lung, multiple spine fractures and a broken shoulder blade.

And, worst of all, Shannon, 16, had suffered a traumatic brain injury.

"They didn't know if he was going to make it," Evelyn Morgan said.

For now, there are no answers, only waiting — and mounting medical bills that could bankrupt the family; Michael was laid off earlier this year.

They have no health insurance but don't qualify for Medicaid. And Shannon, or "ShoJo," as his friends call him, faces an intense rehabilitation that could cost up to $120,000 for two months.

It is just the opposite of the future Shannon imagined for himself. A friendly, outgoing and athletic sophomore at Eagle Military Academy in Summerville, he has long harbored dreams of joining an elite fighting force, the Navy SEALs or maybe the Green Berets.

In YouTube videos, he shows off impressive athletic ability by doing back flips from a flat-footed stance. In another, he displays a fun-loving personality, lip-syncing to boy band songs.

Amy Jo Wilson, a family friend, said she is amazed at what a well-rounded kid Shannon is. "He likes country, rhythm and blues, oldies," Wilson said. "For his age, it's a wide array of tastes."

Evelyn watches those videos on a laptop in an MUSC Children's Hospital waiting room, and can't help but cry a little.

These days she is comforted not only by the videos of Shannon in happier times, but also by the people who follow his progress on a Web site and send her prayers from across the country.

Her company has been "phenomenal," allowing her the time off to spend by her son's side; some employees have even donated their sick time to her.

It is much appreciated; Michael Morgan has not been able to find work since his layoff. He even tried the fast food joints, but a guy at Subway told him he wouldn't be happy with the pay and wouldn't stay, so he wouldn't hire him.

But Morgan would take anything right now. Anything to help, anything to keep from feeling helpless.

Robert Cina, a pediatric surgeon at MUSC, said Shannon has made good progress in the last month. The teen now can interact with his environment to an extent, often grabbing the hands of caregivers to push them away.

Most of his injuries are healing well; the big question is how he recovers from the brain injury.

It is impossible to predict how much a person can recover from such injuries, since each case is different, Cina said. Sometimes kids can make remarkable recoveries, but recovery is often a slow, difficult process requiring a lot of therapy.

"He's really strong, and his mother is extraordinarily devoted to him, and very involved in his care. That's the kind of help patients like this need," Cina said.

The family hopes to host a fundraiser to help pay for Shannon's care sometime around New Year's Eve, but they don't have the details worked out.

They are worried, you can see it in their eyes, but they are hopeful that their son will survive and recover.

The fact that he's made it this far gives them a lot of faith.

"I don't know how he survived it, actually," Michael Morgan said.

Reach Brian Hicks at 937-5561 or bhicks@postandcourier.com