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Frank Gray

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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Luis Cornejovega, left, traveled to the U.S. from Lima, Peru, so that Angela King, center, and Dominick McCann could fix the broken ventilator his daughter, Romina, needs to live.

Little shop in Leo sees global demand

You never know who’s going to drop in at Mobile Medical Maintenance, a shop along the main drag in Leo.

Dominick McCann and his wife, Angela King, have been running the business since 2003, with King setting up ventilators in homes and teaching people how to use them, and McCann servicing or repairing the machines.

It’s not exactly what you would call a local business, though. King has customers in several states, and her husband travels all over the country, though mostly east of the Mississippi River.

And you never know who’s going to drop in.

A couple of years ago, a woman from Australia, dependent on a ventilator, had come to the United States to see Boston and New York. Then her ventilator broke, and the only people she could find to fix her machine were King and McCann. They got in touch with a contact in Maryland who delivered a new ventilator to the woman in Boston, potentially saving a lot more than just the day.

This week, someone else came trotting in from halfway around the world, looking to be rescued by the little shop in Leo.

In Lima, Peru, is a little girl named Romina Cornejo. In the past few years in Peru, she has become both beloved and the symbol of the country’s need to stamp out gang violence.

When she was 3 years old, robbers stopped her family as they drove in Lima and robbed them, and when they got less than they wanted, they shot the little girl in the neck.

Now 7, Romina can eat and speak, but she remains paralyzed and on a ventilator.

Not long ago, though, the ventilator broke down.

To King, the scenario doesn’t make sense. In America, people on ventilators always have two, one to serve as a backup. But in Peru, the little girl got only one.

Getting the ventilator fixed, though, was a problem. It would cost thousands of dollars that the girl’s family didn’t have.

So, somehow, while Romina was transferred to a hospital in Peru, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation coordinated people who could help. They arranged for American Airlines to fly the girl’s father, Luis, and the broken machine to America for free. He arrived early this week in Leo, where the machine would be fixed.

Luis, who doesn’t speak English, stayed in the home of a Mobile Medical technician who speaks Spanish.

By the time Luis headed back home Wednesday morning, he had a repaired ventilator (the old one was filthy because it hadn’t been serviced in years) and a new backup machine provided by a supplier in Cincinnati, something King thinks the girl should have had all along.

“It doesn’t happen often,” King said, but she and her husband’s shop do have customers drop in from all over the country and even around the world.

One reason for the far-flung customers, King explained, is that “No one wants to do ventilator repair. There’s not a lot of money in it.”

In Romina’s case, there wasn’t any money in it for King and company. King thought they would be reimbursed for parts, but they weren’t.

So this job was free.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at fgray@jg.net. You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.

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