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Dr. Stanley Okosun was on call the morning of Nov. 20, 2016, when he learned a young man was being airlifted from a Kansas hospital to the Bryan Trauma Center with a gunshot wound to the head.

When the man arrived, on a scale of 1 to 10 of how bad injuries can look, "this was a 10," Okosun said.

"Time was of the essence. We immediately activated the team. This was a big deal."

The patient, 25-year-old Brock Melton, had been hunting with his cousin, his cousin's girlfriend and a couple of other friends on family property near Courtland, Kansas.

Melton was accidentally shot in the head almost as soon as the morning began. Melton said he regained consciousness on the way to the hospital in his cousin's car, where his cousin's girlfriend explained to him what had happened.

That's the last thing he would remember for a while.

"It's all kind of a blur," Melton said at a press conference in Lincoln on Wednesday.

After the accident, over the next two days, he would undergo surgery and receive intensive care from Okosun, Scott Schroeder and the rest of the trauma team at Bryan Health West Campus. Part of Melton's skull had to be removed.

He was given a 20 percent chance to live.

But when Okosun walked into the waiting room with a big smile on his face the following week, Melton's family knew he had survived and was stable.

Melton would spend another month in the Bryan Trauma Center. From there, he started rehabilitation at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital and Bryan Inpatient Rehabilitation.

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Complications and a surgery following pneumonia required more hospital time.

In late January, Melton was ready to finish rehabilitation and excited to go back to his family's farm in Oak, Nebraska.

The thought of going back to farming was what kept Melton going in the months of his recovery, his father John Melton said.

"It was something for him to look forward to," he said.

Eight months later, Melton is able to get back on his tractor and do some farm work, including planting.

"We see what he can tolerate and plan accordingly," Melton's father said.

On Wednesday, Melton and those involved in his life-saving care were honored at Bryan Health’s sixth-annual Tribute to Trauma Champions.

The event recognizes a survivor from a very serious trauma and their road to recovery. It also honors those who helped care for the person, including emergency first-responders, doctors, nurses, surgeons and rehab therapists.

This year's tribute was at the Cornhusker Marriott. The program included remarks from invited guests and an in-depth video on Melton's story, along with an on-stage reunion of Melton and his caretakers.

Okosun said the event is a win-win for many, in that it not only serves as a way for families to say thank you to every member of the team that helped them, but also showcases what the Trauma Center does.

"It's an opportunity for us to show the community why we do what we do," Okosun said. "The beauty of this work is getting to save a life. What drives us is results like this."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7223 or hmuslic@journalstar.com.

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