Giving Wings to Hope
(ARA) - When her son Mason was three years old, Rebecca Perdieu received the type of news every parent dreads: doctors informed her that Mason was suffering from severe neurological complications of a brain tumor.
Perdieu, who lives in Olathe, Kan., found a specialist in the Kansas City area willing to perform a rare type of brain surgery. “The surgery ended up making him worse and the doctors told me to prepare to say goodbye,” says Perdieu. But she wasn’t ready to give up hope. “I was going to do everything in my power to save my son’s life.”
After a nationwide search for a specialist to treat Mason, Perdieu found a doctor in Memphis, Tenn., who agreed to see him. But she faced another obstacle: her resources were depleted and Perdieu desperately needed help getting Mason to the specialist. It was her fiancé who found Angel Flight America, a not-for-profit grassroots organization of private pilots who transport patients and their families for medical treatment.
Angel Flight has more than 5,000 pilot volunteers divided into six regions crisscrossing the United States, providing flights of hope and healing, free of charge. Pilots use their own planes and donate all expenses. “People in medical crisis face so many challenges, getting the right treatment shouldn’t be one of them,” says Randy Quast of Independence, Minn. He has been flying patients with Angel Flight since 1999. “So much medical care is highly specialized, but if you don’t have the means to get to it, it doesn’t do you any good,” he says.
Medical bills can quickly drain a family’s finances and travel can be prohibitively expensive. It can also be hard on patients -- ground transportation is often impractical and uncomfortable. Many people simply cannot endure multiple hours of travel by car, bus or train, and their treatment plans often require frequent trips far from their homes.
Pilots are supported on the ground by a volunteer corps of “earth angels,” who meet flights at their destination and drive passengers to and from the airport. They also screen passengers, coordinate missions and perform other vital administrative tasks.
“Angel Flight has no boundaries when it comes to helping people in need,” says Perdieu. “It was so touching that an Angel Flight volunteer pilot was gracious enough to fly our family members out to see Mason in the hospital in Memphis.” Mason’s operation was a success and in just nine days he was up and moving around. Two years later, he is a healthy and happy five-year-old boy.
“Patients can’t figure out why we do this,” says Quast of his fellow pilots. “I get to do what I love -- flying -- and I get to help someone out at the same time. Each flight is special.”
In addition to providing free air transportation for patients, Angel Flight also flies precious cargo such as organs, blood, tissue and medical supplies; helps disaster-relief efforts in times of crisis; and aides other humanitarian needs. For more information on how you can help, or to arrange transportation, visit www.angelflightamerica.org or call (877) 621-7177.
Courtesy of ARA Content