"At some point in each of our lives, TE products touch every single one of us in a personal and impactful way like my story, and I am proud to be a part of this company!"
At TE, we don't always stop to take time to recognize how the work and products we create every day have the ability to change and even save lives. We recently heard a touching story about how Kevin Ankrum, Manager Quality and Reliability Engineering, TE's medical business, has been personally affected by some products that TE enables. He is graciously letting us share his story to help inspire others to take pride in their daily work and remind us all that we are helping create a safer, better future for others.
Below is a letter Kevin wrote to CEO, Terrence Curtin.
I felt compelled to write you today to share my family's story on how TE products have benefited our lives. My name is Kevin Ankrum and I am currently the site quality manager for the Wilsonville, Oregon plant within TE's medical business. I have been with TE for 5 years (as of this month!) and started here as a quality engineer within the ultrasound/imaging department. My current role has me responsible for all facets of quality and regulatory control within the Wilsonville site, including quality engineering, quality control, documentation control, and calibration.
The first time a TE product directly impacted my family's life was before I even worked for TE. My oldest (of three) children, Zephiya, had been born a few weeks premature, but otherwise was seemingly a healthy baby girl. My wife, being a new mom, was having a bit of a struggle with feeding and so began seeing a lactation consultant with some regularity. It was at one of these lactation consults that the consultant, a former pediatric ER nurse, mentioned there may be something more serious going on with our daughter. Zephiya was what the medical field terms "failure to thrive," meaning she wasn't gaining weight as she should. The nurse recommended we immediately go to the ER and have her checked out.
At the time, we were living in a small town in rural Oregon and the healthcare was somewhat second rate. Our pediatrician misdiagnosed our daughter with having a bacterial infection and ordered a blood transfusion that ended up nearly killing her. Our family was greatly blessed when one of the ER nurses came to us in confidence and advised us to get a second opinion from a different pediatrician in town. In desperate need of answers, we took this advice and scheduled an appointment immediately.
The new pediatrician took one listen to her heartbeat and noticed a murmur. He then referred us to a pediatric cardiologist in the Portland area (where we now reside). Based on the doctor's advice, we immediately packed up our family and started the several-hour drive to Portland.
In Portland, the pediatric cardiologist used an ultrasound electrocardiogram (EKG) to diagnose two holes in her heart, one between her aorta and one between her ventricles, and advised us that she would need open heart surgery to correct the defects. As first-time parents, we were devastated by the thought of our baby having this major operation, but trusted the advice we were getting and decided to schedule the surgery.
The open-heart surgery was long and arduous, but successful! After more testing, we then found out that Zephiya had an extremely rare chromosome defect; she has a three-base pair deletion on her fourteenth chromosome and is one of only fourteen cases in the world. We discovered that her heart defect was a symptom of this extremely rare genetic condition and it may have never been discovered without first having successfully identified the heart issues.
Several years later, not long after I started working at TE, Zephiya had her five-year checkup from the heart surgery. During the checkup, the ultrasound EKG technician was able to verify that the holes in her heart were repaired and there were no residual leaks! I looked over at the ultrasound machine and to my astonishment I noticed that the technician was using an ultrasound EKG machine that our medical business manufacturers the cable subassembly for this exact piece of equipment in our Guaymas, Mexico facility. The brand was one of my main customers as a quality engineer when I started at TE!
The photo I've included shows my daughter at that checkup appointment. I have this picture hanging in my office as reminder of the importance of my daily work and motivation to keep improving.
The second time a TE product directly impacted my family's life was with my father. Last year, my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. His doctor recommended a prostatectomy for immediate treatment. This procedure was also scheduled to be performed in the Portland area, and as the only other immediate family member in the area, I met him and my mom in the hospital and stayed through the duration of the surgery. I was again surprised when I noticed that the surgeon was operating using a robotic-assisted surgical system. Similar to my daughter's case, TE's medical business manufactures the cable subassemblies for this piece of equipment.
My father is now cancer-free and enjoys spending time with his grandchildren whenever he can. The photo below shows him on a recent trip my parents took to Minnesota (their birth state) in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary.
TE and its products have had a direct, positive impact on the lives of me and my family members. As an employee working in the quality function for our medical business, this hits extremely close to home as I have now had multiple instances where I see my work meeting my personal life. This is an incredible motivating factor when I reflect upon our core values and how they relate to my work, and in turn how my work and the work of those I depend on impacts my family.
I am extremely grateful and humbled for the opportunity TE has given me to positively benefit the lives of the people I care most about. At some point in each of our lives, TE products touch every single one of us in a personal and impactful way like my story, and I am proud to be a part of this company!
Quality Manager, Medical
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