The SRT team received a very touching letter from Dr. Clemmer, an orthopedic physician, in regards to the unsurpassed kindness of the late, Ray McKinney, founder of McKinney Prosthetics, which is now part of the SRT family.
Rosette (featured in the photos) is a young Congolese woman who confronted tragedy in her young life but overcame those misfortunes by resilience, determination and optimism….and with assistance from a generous partner in the United States: McKinney Prosthetics and SRT Prosthetics & Orthotics.
Thirteen years ago, in August 2004, I was rounding on the orthopedic ward at Heal Africa Hospital in Goma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, a nation that had been engulfed in conflict for nearly two decades. I came across three young girls who had been transferred from a distant hospital located in the town of Rutshuru, (one of which was named Rosette). As the story went, the three girls (and a young boy) were walking to school when a passing motorist offered them a ride to school in his pick-up truck. The boy who knew the driver so he sat in front and the girls sat in the back of the vehicle with their legs dangling out the left side. Along the way, the driver got too close to a car parked alongside the road, crushing the legs of three girls between the two vehicles. Rosette, who was near the front, sustained severe injuries to her legs as did her sister who was sitting beside her. The third girl was thrown from the vehicle and sustained internal injuries.
The three girls were transferred to a local hospital where a young surgeon proceeded to amputate both of Rosette’s legs. I met the three girls a week later when they were transferred to Heal Africa Hospital.There was not a lot to be done at the time; all had recovered from life-threatening injuries, but two, especially Rosette, would be disabled for life at the tender age of 14.
Fast forward to 2017 when, while visiting Heal Africa for the first time in nearly 13 years, a young, tall, beautiful woman, Rosette, approached me after a church service and thanked me for the ‘role I played in helping her to regain her health and dignity’. I have to admit it took me a while to remember who she was…and whatever role I played was minimal compared to McKinney Prosthetics (now SRT).
Mr. Ray McKinney (founder of McKinney and licensed prosthetist from the United States), learned about the plight of Rosette and made arrangements for her to visit his company in Gurnee, Illinois in 2005. Mr. McKinney and team assessed Rosette’s injuries and rehabilitation-capacity for prosthetics with the latest technology available. Not only did Mr. McKinney design and fit Rosette with bilateral prosthetic limbs, but he assisted her in the arduous transition from ‘wheel chair bound’ to ‘walking’. When I met Rosette years later in 2017, she had graduated from college, was working for CARITAS (a development and charity organization of the Catholic Diocese of Goma) and had a passion to spend her life helping others in similar situations. She shared with me how the prostheses that Mr. McKinney had provided years ago were worn and becoming difficult to walk with. She asked if I would be able to contact Mr. McKinney when I traveled back to the United States later that month and let him know that she was well, but needed replacement parts for her prostheses.
“The United States”, I told Rosette, “is a very large country and I am sure there are many Mr. McKinneys there”.
“He will remember me”, she said, as she handed me his worn business card that he had left with her many years ago.
“This should be interesting”, I thought, as I took the card, and a week later headed back to the United States. Well… it was interesting. The number on the card was disconnected and upon further inquiry the company by that name no longer existed. It was now “SRT Prosthetics & Orthotics”.
“This should be very interesting”, I thought, as I made the call from my home in Maine. As fate would have it, I was able to make a connection with a Ms. Kelly Reid-Krueger who had worked with Mr. McKinney and she remembered Rosette. Kelly now worked for the new company, SRT. “Hold the phone”, Kelly said, “I suspect the new owners would be delighted to help out”. Sure enough, within a week, during my brief visit to the U.S. we received boxes and boxes of essential components to take back to the Congo, replacement parts for Rosette’s prostheses. Sadly, Ms. Kelly informed me that Mr. Ray McKinney had passed away.
Rosette was deeply affected when she learned of Mr. McKinney’s demise; the man who saved her from a wheel-chair bound life… but then smiled knowing that God, who has been forever faithful since that tragic day in 2004, has yet again provided for her needs, this time through a new partner and friend.
There is no way in this letter, that I could adequately describe the sheer delight on the face of Rosette when I presented her with the equipment from SRT upon my return to Goma. Rosette is not only pursuing her calling and dreams, but doing so today standing proud and tall….in large part due to the enduring gifts from Mr. McKinney and SRT.