Each Angel Flight West passenger holds a special place in our hearts – and that includes the committed companions who accompany patients on their journey. A third of our missions are for minors traveling long distances to treatment, and it’s an honor to help lighten the load for the parents and caregivers flying by their side.
As a single parent and foster mom in Spokane Valley, WA, Heidi began fostering then three-year-old Elias and his brother in 2016 before adopting them in 2019. Three years after the adoption was official, and after a lengthy illness due to end stage liver disease, Elias received his life-saving liver transplant at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
“As soon as Elias was well enough to fly to his follow-up appointments, I contacted Angel Flight West,” says Heidi. “I also have two grown children and a foster baby. Being able to fly to check-ups and back home the same day with volunteer pilots makes a huge difference to our family.” Not to mention, Heidi no longer has the added financial burden of babysitter fees and travel costs.
Donating their talent, time and aircraft, AFW’s Volunteer Pilot Jason Hone flew Elias and Heidi from their home in Spokane Valley, WA to Elias’ care at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Volunteer Pilot John Jewett flew them home the same day.
When weather kept our volunteer pilots from the skies, Alaska Airlines stepped in to ensure Heidi and her son made it to care. “They are always helpful, always kind,” Heidi says. “They even helped with Elias’ Make a Wish in 2019 by flying us to our Disney Cruise.”
Today, ten-year-old Elias is doing amazingly well. “You would never know he had a transplant,” says Heidi. “He’s a passionate, caring kid who loves reading and sports.” And this year, Elias gets to enjoy a summer like so many other kids, filled with camps, soccer, and the great outdoors.
Elias and Heidi are scheduled for two more angel flights this April — and we’re honored to be part of his journey to post-transplant care.
About Angel Flight West
Each year, Angel Flight West flies hundreds of children to hospitals and treatment centers miles away, oftentimes for pre- and post-transplant medical appointments. If you or someone you know in the Western United States needs help reaching their far-off care, visit angelflightwest.org/need-a-flight to learn more about free flights or call 310 (390) 2958.
Not in the West? Visit aircarealliance.org to learn more about charitable aviation organizations nationwide.