Clash with pet turns life upside down

Kerrie McDonald’s life changed in May 2018, after an unlikely encounter with her pet lamb landed her in a coma with a rare flesh-eating bacterial infection.

The altercation with the lamb has left Kerrie with two missing limbs, her right leg from the hip and part of her left leg from the knee.


Kerrie making her way to her horse Bella with her devoted friends Poppy and Oakley.

Kerrie cannot recall all the details of the accident, but she can remember loading a trailer of sheep, and a pet lamb jumping from the trailer and running at full speed, colliding with her right leg, just above the knee.

“It didn’t even hurt, I was a little sore, but I just kept working - then it drastically went downhill, and I ended up with Necrotizing fasciitis.” “It’s a rare flesh-eating bacterial infection that spreads quickly through the body and can cause death.” “I was very sick, it only took a few days, and if it wasn’t for Bernie at the Tailem Bend Hospital, I would have died,” Kerrie said.

“I was rushed to the RAH, where doctors put me into an induced coma for eight weeks – they did a wonderful job of keeping me alive, however, they had no choice but to amputate my right leg. I then lost two toes from my left foot, and many bits and pieces of veins, muscles, and digits,” Kerrie said.

Born in Kingston, as a small child, Kerrie moved with her family to Mount Gambier and after leaving school, began working in the local Pharmacy before moving to the Solomon Islands.

“One day, I jokingly asked my boss’s mate, Ted Williams, who owned a Pharmacy in Penola and one in the Solomon Islands, if there was any chance of getting a job in the Solomons?” Kerrie said. Ted replied straight up, “Yep you can start tomorrow if you like.”

Kerrie had always wanted to travel, and her primary goal was to get the travelling bug out of her system before taking on university studies and becoming a teacher.

After a few years of island hopping, Kerrie moved back from Honiara to Australia, settling in Sydney for a year. Upon some advice from a friend, she decided to enrol in an Early Childhood Degree, which saw her transfer to James Cook University in Townsville, Far North Queensland.

Securing her first teaching position back in Mt Gambier, Kerrie worked in everything from kindergartens to teaching at TAFE, during her 20-year career.

“I was a Junior Primary School teacher at North Gambier for a long time before becoming the Principal of a New Arrivals Program for refugees arriving from Miramar/Burma and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Kerrie said.

Kerrie’s main and closest support is Kym, her partner of ten years.

“After meeting my partner Kym, yabbying in the middle of nowhere at Cockatoo Lake, which is just outside Naracoorte, I moved to Wellington to a small farm. From our new home base, I would travel to Oakbank Area School, where I worked with children from the Inverbrackie Detention Centre. I then worked at the Strathalbyn R-6 Campus, and the TAFE campus in Murray Bridge,” Kerrie said.

“Everything changed after my trauma, the National Disability Insurance Scheme allocated me a Support Coordinator and I was so lucky I found Genuine Support Services Australia, as my preferred NDIS provider.” “They had just started up and I recall I was their twentieth client – I am so impressed with their caring and professional support,” Kerrie said.


Kerrie training to ride again at Inner Soul Murray Bridge.

“GSSA really cares and provides all the personal support I need.” “Transport is my main issue, and as I now have my driving licence back, I cannot wait until I have the hand controls fitted to my car. For now, my Support Worker drives me to the gym in Murray Bridge, two to three times a week. Donna’s team at Inner Soul is just brilliant and my physiotherapist, Mark Zadow, is outstanding.”

“There’s always a lot of driving - back and forth through the Murraylands, all over the place really. I have medical appointments everywhere and I love watching my cousins’ children at their SAPSASA activities in Adelaide.”

“Once a month I catch up with my friend Dianne from Mount Gambier, for lunch in Hahndorf or Mount Barker, but the most enjoyable day of the week for me is Mondays with my horse Bella and Support Worker, Julie from GSSA.” “I’m finally back in the saddle thanks to the Riding Patch in Strathalbyn, Kathy is an amazing lady – an Angel.” “Holly from Genuine Support helps me with a little in-home care, mainly cleaning.”

Kerrie says that despite her disability, her quest for independence keeps her remarkably busy. “I don’t get much of a chance to do a lot in the community, although there’s a horse arena opening up soon down the road, which I hope to be involved with,” Kerrie said.


Kerrie back in the saddle at the Riding Patch, Strathalbyn.

“Thanks to all the support I receive, I have not needed any high-intensity help, but I do love my gardening – unfortunately though, my Gopher loves running over plants.” “I do not qualify for any NDIS respite, but I am sure Kym could do with a rest on occasions.”

“I dream of one day riding again with my friends on the Fleurieu Peninsula, I used to trail ride regularly near Victor Harbor.”

Relationships mean a great deal to Kerrie, and it is those, that keep her moving forward.

“There is no doubt, that it is my friends and family who keep me going - I would be lost without Kym, Mum, Bella, my Border Collie, Poppy, and my funny Cavoodle, Oakley,” Kerrie said.

“It seems that I’m always doing something, but I consciously try to make time every day to maintain my relationships – it’s so important to me,” Kerrie said.

Kerrie continues to focus on improving her horse-riding skills but also knows that life will change course once the NDIS approves the hand controls for her car.

Kerrie is also extremely excited about giving lessons to the staff at Genuine Support Services Australia, tutoring them in commercial writing and report writing.

Please feel free to contact Kerrie McDonald on 0412 266 920 or via email on if you require an interview.

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