In 1972, Dr. Randall E. McNally, a Chicago plastic surgeon, traveled to Vietnam to recover the remains of his brother-in-law Thomas Kenny and his wife and four children, who were among more than 80 people killed when a bomb caused the crash of a Cathay Pacific airliner.
While awaiting news of his family members, Dr. McNally volunteered to do reconstructive surgery at the Barsky center in Saigon. He ended up with a patient the world knows as the napalm girl from one of the most widely known photographs of the 20th century.
Associated Press photographer Nick Ut won the Pulitzer Prize for the indelible image he captured of Kim Phuc Phan Thi, a 9-year-old South Vietnamese girl, running down a road, screaming in pain from napalm burns. The photograph made people question U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war.
“I became a victim of war,” Phan Thi, now 59, said after Dr. McNally’s death Monday at 92 at Lake Forest Hospital of what his son Edward said was “old age.” “But there are so many good people like Dr. McNally. They try to work so hard to help many people, and, among them, I was one.”
Now living near Toronto, she created the Kim Foundation International to aid children injured in war.
“I love him so much,” she said. “I owe him and all the doctors and nurses. They inspired me and made me have a dream to help people, like they helped me.”