FROM A PASSENGER by AFW Passenger Randy F.
Excerpt from AFW Winter 2015 Newsletter
I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in June 2014. I started chemotherapy the day after I was diagnosed. My oncologist let me know that I needed a bone marrow transplant and that they do not do these transplants in Hawaii. I needed to go to a facility on the mainland.
Fortunately for me, my brother was a match and we chose City of Hope in California for the procedure. The bone marrow transplant took place November 2014. I was in the hospital for one month and then two more months close by so City of Hope could monitor my progress. After approximately 100 days post-transplant I was released to return back home to Honolulu in February 2015.
I found out about Angel Flight West from my insurance plan case manager. I was asking her about the out-of-pocket airfare expenses I was going to have to pay to fly from Honolulu to L.A., and if it was covered under my insurance plan. She indicated it was not, but that there were several nonprofits that donated flights for cancer patients.
She sent me a multipage list of several different organizations to contact and mentioned that AFW was probably my best bet. When I first read how AFW works with pilots and plane owners donating their time and aircraft to patients needing transport, I did not think it applied to Hawaii since no small planes would make the journey! I went ahead and completed the “Request A Flight” on the angelflightwest.org website just in case, and received an email back with a phone number to call requesting more information. I called and provided the requested information but didn’t hear anything further.
On my next appointment with my oncologist, I asked his office manager, Gemma, about it and she indicated that AFW would want something from the doctor to indicate medical necessity and that she would take care of it.
A few days later, my wife was contacted by AFW saying we were approved for travel and that they would book a flight for us. We just had to let them know where and when! It was a Godsend! They booked a flight for both me and my wife to LA on Alaska Air. They told my wife when we were done with the bone marrow transplant and the doctor released us to go home, to call them for the return trip!
Four months later we called and they booked our return flight again on Alaska Air–no problem! The whole experience was nothing but great!
What did this flight mean for me? Having AFW cover our airfare to and from California from Honolulu was a huge help. Since both my wife and I had to leave work during this whole procedure we had no income, and with the added medical expenses growing that we were incurring, funds were extremely tight. Not having to worry about how we were going to pay for airfare was an enormous relief!