Couple that lost their legs uses tragic experience to inspire hope

Couple that lost their legs uses tragic experience to inspire hope

Rodney and Maria Lakay turned their pain into power...

Rodney and Maria Lakay
Rodney and Maria Lakay/ Supplied

Life has a way of throwing the unexpected at us and sometimes these tragic events can break us - or they can reveal our greater purpose in life.

When Maria and Rodney McKay tied the knot on December 22, 1990, and said their vows "for better or worse", they meant exactly that. 

Maria and Rodney were involved in a car accident that left both of them crippled.  

"The accident happened on 25 September 2014. It was during a Rogue rally that took place on Simola Road where the driver of a Lamborghini lost control of his car and smashed into us," explains Maria. 

The two were coming back from a vacation in Cape Town.

"As I was about to walk back to my car, my last words to the marshals were, “here comes trouble”. I adjusted the long lens of my camera to take a pic, and as I was glancing through my camera lens, I saw the car came into the finished line, on its side. My human instinct was to move away, although in mind I knew I am far enough from the car. The next moment I just feel a push on my left shoulder, and I woke up on a stretcher," says Rodney. 

"I still recall telling the paramedic to put something underneath my legs, because it felt uncomfortable, little knowing that both my legs were amputated," he says.

He adds that on his "way to the Life Knysna Hospital, my heart stopped, and it resulted that I were taken to Knysna Government Hospital. They resuscitated me and transferred me, then in a coma to the Life Knysna Hospital."

Maria also says "two days after the accident I died, where I experienced life turning out of my body and I could see hundreds of people praying for us. I opened my eyes four days later and discover I had no legs." 

The couple says they were reunited after 13 days in ICU.

"We were transferred to a general ward where we shared a room. It was the first time that we spoke to each other since the accident," says Rodney. 

"We realised that what happened, had a bigger purpose, and that we were blessed to be alive and that we had each other," he adds. 

Talking about how the accident and losing their legs has affected their lives, the couple says it was a huge challenge. 

"The fact that we were legless was a huge challenge to adapt to do the normal day-to-day things, like using the bathroom," Maria says.

"Nobody builds a house for a wheelchair, and we could only make a few changes to accommodate our needs when we were discharged from rehab. We had our children and friends to help and had to employ a carer. For us to continue with our life, we wanted to be independent as much as possible," she adds. 

The couple says that dealing with bad treatment from the public towards disabled people was a challenge. 

"Society is still very uninformed about people with disabilities. A lot of able people still use the disabled parking or even disabled bathrooms, and if confronted, they have a stinking attitude," Maria says.

The couple joined an amputee support group which they say helped them with their day-to-day struggles.

When it comes to how the accident affected their marriage, the couple says "nothing has really changed between us. After 28 years of marriage and 5 years of wheelchair bound, life has not stopped at all. Rodney is a real romantic, and still do the things that we love doing. We maintain a very active social life and are very busy in our church, but most importantly, we are still dating. Rodney is still working, because I maintain that marriage is a workshop, where the husband works and the wife shops."

READ: How xenophobia affects this multinational couple

The couple is using their painful experience to help other people. 

"In October 2017 we took our first trip in wheelchairs abroad to Bali, Indonesia, and had a ball of a time, and we just came back from America where we did some motivational talks at churches in Orlando, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Brooklyn, NY," says Maria. 

"We love to travel a lot when we do motivational talks or going away on a break," says the couple. 

Image credit: Supplied

Show's Stories