Little Kaylie is a strong-spirited two-year-old with a fiery personality and a face you cannot stop looking at. So, you would never know that she has been through a lot in her short life.
Kaylie was born with citrullinemia type 1, a genetic condition that causes ammonia and toxic substances to build up in the blood. Her mom and dad noticed something was wrong when Kaylie wouldn’t stop crying and stopped sleeping soon after being born. They took her to the ER where a blood test revealed the genetic malformation. She was quickly put through dialysis because of the dangerous build-up of ammonia and toxins in her blood, which could have left her brain damaged and comatose.
The family ended up at UCLA because of top-tier specialists there for Kaylie’s specific condition. They began attending appointments every week, which turned into every 15 days, and now once monthly. Kaylie’s appointment time would land them in rush hour traffic both directions, frequently taking five-to-six hours one way even though it wasn’t exceptionally far from their home in San Diego, California.
This is where the magic of AFW comes in. For many of our passengers, there are no transportation options available to them. We are their only hope to accessing necessary, oftentimes life-saving, medical care. However, we also help passengers who do have a way to get to treatment, but it is a physical or financial hardship. Not only is it literally healing for our passengers to get the care they need, but having more time at home and not worrying about how they are going to pay for gas or other transportation can be equally as important to the healing process.
Kaylie’s mom, Irely, mildly terrified of flying, saw AFW as an amazing resource for her daughter who loves flying. She spends every trip fascinated by the aerial view and passing scenery with her travel companion, Fapi, a stuffed elephant she brings everywhere.
On June 8, 2019, Kaylie received a liver transplant. She was on the list for about a month and was short-listed because of the urgency of her situation. Kaylie responded well to the transplant, and now travels with AFW for her monthly checkup appointments.
Angel Flight West has been so important for shortening the commute time and ensuring that they are able to attend Kaylie’s follow-up appointments hassle-free. Irely repeatedly shares her gratitude for the support that AFW and the pilot volunteers have provided her and her family.
A sweet note from one of Kaylie’s recent pilots, Pete Bernardin:
Last week, I flew Kaylie/mom/grandmother home to MYF. When they arrived at AFW Office, Kaylie, only two, was tired, cranky, and, I thought, approaching a meltdown.
Anne, or maybe Isabel, gave her a couple of stuffed toys. The transformation was instantaneous. She was immediately happy, hung on to those things for dear life, and was at peace with the world. She spent the whole flight talking to them. When her mom asked her to thank me with a hug at MYF, she wouldn’t put them down–so I missed the hug.
Just a small thing, folks, but big stuff to a two-year-old – you guys just know how to do it….