Mee Memorial Hospital in King City (Contributed)

KING CITY — In January 2023, Darlene Noriega faced every parent’s nightmare when her son faced a major medical emergency.

While in class at Soledad High School, Noriega’s oldest son Zion experienced spontaneous pneumothorax, an unexplainable lung collapse. The condition is caused by a buildup of air around the lungs that applies pressure to a lung so it cannot expand as it normally does when taking a breath.

Taken to Mee Memorial Hospital’s emergency department, Zion was seen by Dr. Clint Slaughter, who recognized the problem and began treatment. Zion’s lung continued to collapse over and over, which led to the intervention of surgical team member Dr. Gilbert Flores.

Flores is part of a three-member surgical team at the King City-based hospital. He spent his general surgery residency at East Tennessee State University, graduating as a general surgery research fellow in 2006. He earned his medical degree from Universidad Privada del Valle in  Cochabamba, Bolivia, and worked previously at Mount Sinai Hospital, in Miami Beach, Fla.

Flores’ intervention led to a positive outcome for the Noriega family.

“Many scary things took place during those few days at Mee Memorial, but I always felt supported by each and every staff member who entered my son’s room,” Noriega said. “Zion has experienced a strong recovery thanks to the doctors and staff at Mee Memorial, and is enjoying his life and activities once again — happy and healthy!”

Noriega sent the Mee Memorial Healthcare System staff a letter of gratitude.

“Thank you, Dr. Flores, Dr. Slaughter and all the nurses for using your gifts to save my son,” she wrote. “My heart is overwhelmed.”

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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