Health Watch: Local Doctors Meet At Ground Zero, Lives Changed Forever
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As the nation marks the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this weekend, the widespread impact of that day is still being felt.
One Philadelphia doctor raced to New York to help, and then joined the military. He died serving our country.
Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl talked to his family about the day America was attacked, and how it changed everything.
7-year-old John Pryor has a special box, letters to heaven for his dad.
“I was the littlest, and I didn’t get enough time to see dad,” said John.
His dad, John Pryor Senior, was a gifted trauma surgeon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and a proud father of three.
“He adored them, and they cry for him every day so it’s hard,” said Dr. Carmela Calvo, John’s wife.
When the country was attacked on 9/11, Dr. Pryor rushed to help. In the rubble of the World Trade Center, trying to save someone, he met another doctor, from our area.
“In the middle of this disaster, and this horrendous situation I am connected with this man who subsequently helped guide me,” said Dr. John Chovanes, a trauma surgeon at Cooper University Hospital. He now has a special bond with the Pryor family. All still in disbelief over what happened after 9/11.
Not just the people killed in the twin towers, but so much collateral damage. There was more tragedy to come.
“We’re always talking about 9/11, and the decisions and how it changed our lives. And I can not believe he’s gone and not here for this 10th anniversary,” said Dr. Calvo
After 9/11, Dr. Pryor joined the army reserves. His new friend Dr. Chovanes had already enlisted.
“You step up and you say I’ll do what I can, and I feel that way now more than ever,” said Dr. Chovanes.
Dr. Pryor was compelled by the same sense of honor and duty. Trauma surgeons were needed in Iraq.
“He used to tell me, my brother, my sister that I need to go there, so I can help with other mommy’s and daddy’s so they can go home to their kids,” said Frankie Pryor, John’s oldest son.
But Dr. Pryor isn’t coming home to his. He was killed in Iraq, when a mortar exploded near his living quarters, Christmas morning 2008.
“Just came out of no where. Boom. Dead,” said John.
“The kids are still traumatized from my screams,” said Dr. Calvo.
“I just miss having him here,” said Danielle Pryor, John’s daughter.
Two and a half years later the Pryor’s cling to memories of fun vacations when they were all together.
Before 9/11 when the world was a different place.
“It’s just incredibly heartbreaking and sad. And I feel for everyone,” said Dr. Calvo.
Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3