Jack and his mom

A Flight to Remember

Suzanne Rhodes | 06/23/16

by Stephanie Singer, Intern, Virginia Wesleyan College


In 2014, Jack was adopted from China. He was two-and-a-half years old then. Now he’s four. Few people would be able to tell at first glance, but difficulties marked his earlier years.

Rough Start

Jack was born with gastrointestinal issues. Doctors in China performed multiple surgeries in attempts to help, but the surgeries were unsuccessful.

His adoptive parents, Heidi and Dustin, worried about their son’s health. Jack came to America with problems related to his condition. He was severely underweight and behind the growth curve. Worse, the previous surgeries needed correction.

Costly Obstacle

jack in hospital

Heidi and Dustin live in Charlotte, North Carolina. None
of the local hospitals could fully help Jack. After this, there was good news and bad news. The good news: there was a doctor who specialized in colorectal surgeries for internationally adopted children. The bad news: this doctor was in Columbus, Ohio.

The family was already on a tight budget. Flying to Columbus seemed out of the question.

“The cost of airfare for multiple medical trips was daunting,” Heidi said. She was almost certain they would have to drive to Ohio, because airline tickets were too expensive.

Mercy Medical Flies In

The social worker at Nationwide Children’s Hospital posed a potential solution: Mercy Medical Angels. There was a good possibility that they could assist with flight costs. The possibility soon became a reality. “When we received the call from Mercy Medical that a flight was available, we were ecstatic!” Heidi said.

Fun in the Air

Because of the surgeries and following inpatient care, Jack had to be away from his siblings for two-and-a-half weeks. Heidi and Dustin were worried that the memories of previous surgeries would frighten Jack.

Luckily, Jack immensely enjoyed the flights. He was enthusiastic about the planes and the runway, and even got to drink a soda. This experience diverted his attention from the upcoming operations and helped ease the pain on the way back.

As the plane soared into the air, any concerns disappeared. Jack liked to watch objects on the ground get smaller. He was giggling and saying that the houses looked like little toys.

“The attendants made him feel special and comfortable,” Heidi said. “Jack is still talking about when he went riding on a plane.”

A New Start

She and Dustin are very grateful to Mercy Medical Angels for the help. “You made a very difficult trip one of special memories,” she said.

 As for Jack, he has since recovered from his surgeries. He is an active four-year-old who likes swimming and bike riding. Also, he likes to play with toy cars. Some of his favorite playthings are – no surprise here – toy planes!