How Tony Met His Service Dog, Cinch
Tony is a Navy veteran who lives in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Like many other veterans, he would benefit from a service dog. The facility best able to help him was in San Antonio, TX. The two cities are more than 1,500 miles apart. The long distance was just the first obstacle. Airfare would be expensive – and traveling with an animal is a challenge in itself. (more…)
Daniel had a rare condition that caused a tumor to grow behind his eye. The best hospital that could help him was in Ohio, almost 600 miles away. His mother was unemployed at the time and couldn’t afford the travel. Our volunteer pilot program was able to help, transporting Daniel and his mom to the care he needed.
Because of donors like you, we are able to Deliver Hope Daily. To help more children, like Daniel, please donate here.
Jeremy traveled from San Antonio to Houston for a Lone Survivor Foundation retreat. He has PTSD and a traumatic brain injury (TBI). On the way back, he said he had an extremely positive experience, and that it was “very easy to set up.” When he returned to Houston, Jeremy expressed great satisfaction with Mercy Medical Angels and Angel Wings for Veterans. In Jeremy’s words: “The retreat was absolutely amazing. Every part of the process was great.”
To learn more about Lone Survivor Foundation, click here:
Margaret is a cancer patient who lives in Michigan. MD Anderson in Texas is the only place that offers the treatment she needs. Mercy Medical Angels provides free transportation to MD Anderson for Margaret.
You couldn’t tell it from Debbie’s energetic conversing, but she has Short Gut Syndrome. This prevents her intestines from absorbing nutrients. She lives in Eastern Tennessee, but has to go to Cleveland Clinic in Ohio for treatment. Mercy Medical Angels is helping her access the care she needs. “They’re an uplifting breath of fresh air,” says Debbie.
In early December 2017, Mercy Medical Angels scheduled Debbie to go on a Delta flight. The flight faced a delay. This could have landed her in trouble before she even got off the ground.
When the pilot found out it was a medical flight, he personally helped her. He knew two doctors (Debbie said that “they sure didn’t look like doctors”) who asked her about what was going on. The pilot had originally planned to set her up in a hotel, but the doctors told her to go to the hospital. Keeping up the kindness, the pilot paid for a taxi to the ER. The doctors added, “If you get delayed, let us know and we’ll call.” Debbie views this overwhelmingly positive experience as a miracle in itself.
The ER wasn’t delayed, but the hospital stay was unexpectedly prolonged. Debbie was told she would need to stay for two days. The doctors at Cleveland Clinic found out that she had an infection, which meant she had to stay longer. Now she’s back home and feeling much better.
“There’s no way I can get there without Mercy Medical Angels,” says Debbie. “They definitely have the right name.”
More medical appointments are coming up on Debbie’s calendar. With the help she receives from Mercy Medical Angels, she trusts that miracles will continue to happen.
Pain is Temporary, Miracles are Forever
Recently, Debbie called Mercy Medical Angels back. For the first time in years, she was leaving the house in nice clothes. Her reason: “I want to surprise my Bible Study group!”
The pain of Short Gut Syndrome might have temporarily trapped Debbie – but pain didn’t last. With the help of Mercy Medical Angels, the miracles of healing and life endure.
Lessons of the Heart
Tabitha was an English teacher in high school for 18 years. She has a big family, one that set a good example for her when she was younger. Her father would fix cars and give them to families in need – along with the keys and completed paperwork. One of his favorite expressions was: “You reap what you sow.” Her mother was kind, but didn’t tolerate bad language. “I would come up with my own words,” Tabitha explains, “and I still use them. My grandkids tease me about it.”
Tabitha married and had children, who in turn had grandchildren. After a while, that marriage didn’t work out. She took the chance to pick up daring hobbies. Hang gliding, rock climbing, and canoeing became her outlets. After a while, she married again; her second husband brought some children with him.
Tabitha continues, this time describing her health. Her first cardiac arrest occurred when she was only 19. Just when she thought her heart was back to normal, she had some more problems in her 20s. Because of the damage to her heart, Tabitha needed specialized treatment. On top of the heart problems, she has 17 rare conditions, some of which doctors haven’t heard of. Some of these put her body in what she calls “attack mode.”
As if those problems weren’t enough, Tabitha explains how the hospitals are rated with report cards. Instead of helping, the report cards end up harming. Hospitals worry so much about the rating that they don’t take certain patients. If a patient died or developed further complications, that would affect the hospital’s rating. She traveled to multiple hospitals – Sentara Norfolk General, UVA, Johns Hopkins – but all of them said she was too high-risk. They more or less gave up on her, and figured she would die anyway. Tabitha’s musical North Carolina accent, normally upbeat, turns downcast: “They dropped the ball.”
Another challenge Tabitha faced wasn’t directly related to her medical needs. Instead, it had to do with her location. The small-town dynamics of the Outer Banks made word of mouth an obstacle. If a few doctors heard about her and refused to help, it wouldn’t be long before all the doctors had the news. This led to a negative bias. But she couldn’t do anything about this – “I can’t get up and move.”
At one point, Tabitha was reading about Cleveland Clinic. This hospital has one of the best cardiac centers in the country. She applied, and the clinic accepted. “It gave me a chance to be seen by an unbiased doctor.” The first problem – finding a hospital that would accept her – was solved. Still, she faced a second problem: a means of transportation to and from Cleveland Clinic.
That’s when Tabitha found out about Mercy Medical Angels. After all she had been through, Tabitha didn’t get her hopes up. “I thought I would get shot down immediately, or have too many forms.” However, Mercy Medical Angels had a very direct approach. Tabitha was pleasantly surprised. “They graciously provided tickets out of Norfolk,” she said, adding that Norfolk was the closest airport.
Part of Tabitha’s journey involved a learning experience. She describes herself as a giver, and that she deals with the pain because she’s used to it. “I don’t necessarily want to take or ask for help,” she explains. If someone refused to offer help after she asked for it, she would feel embarrassed. Yet now she had to accept all the help she could get. Tabitha states that she’s grateful to everyone, including the people who helped her get through the airport via wheelchair. “It’s a lesson in humility,” Tabitha says.
Through everything, Tabitha is active in her faith and family. She wants to “be a smile” even though she’s struggling. “My prayer is to be well enough to help.” Then her voice chokes up. She wants to get all her kids and grandkids together so she can get a picture with everyone “in case something goes wrong.”
The doctors at Cleveland Clinic told her that her health will dramatically improve. “To be able to imagine the benefits – I can’t. Like when I was young again.”
Tabitha needs to return to Cleveland Clinic again soon. They will provide more help for her heart. She says that cardiac patients need a lot of medical clearance to fly. Still, she trusts that Mercy Medical Angels will continue to help.
Heavy Circumstances, Light Heart
Recently, Tabitha wrote a letter to Mercy Medical Angels. She had been in the hospital a few months ago. Complications prolonged her stay. There were more problems as well, from finances running low to issues within her family.
Nonetheless, she is grateful to Mercy Medical Angels for all the help they gave her. “I laugh and cry as I write this,” wrote Tabitha. “Not tears of sadness, tears of joy and appreciation, and laughter that as long as I have breath, I have a chance.”
These circumstances could weigh anyone down. Still, Tabitha’s heart is in the sky.
Obstacles, Inside and Out
Janie lives in Montana, a state filled with mountains and cold weather. For many people, those alone would become obstacles. The obstacles Janie faces aren’t necessarily brutal terrain or bitter temperatures. It’s not just what’s outside, because she encounters a difficulty on the inside. She has a rare bone disease known as septic arthritis.
Septic arthritis is not something to be taken lightly. If Janie gets an infection, it goes straight to her joints and starts damaging the bones around it. “Once I got strep throat and it went to my hip,” Janie explained. “It ate the whole ball-and-socket joint.” Another time, an infection attacked her neck. She needed titanium to fill in where the bones were gone.
Nobody in Montana was able to help Janie. However, there were bone surgeons who were experts on septic arthritis, based in Chicago. The problem: long distance air travel would be too expensive. As she tried to find a solution, her condition went from chronic to acute. “When it’s acute, that means I need help very quickly.”
In The Nick Of Time
At a crucial point, Janie found out about Mercy Medical Angels. Then she ran into another problem: she needed help with the online application. One of the transportation coordinators helped her complete it. Janie gave a threefold compliment: “They were very cordial, very understanding, and very helpful.”
Aside from bone disease, Janie deals with other problems. Flying with metal bone replacements makes the security line a nightmare. Because of the harsh Montana winter, she often ends up snowed in. She has to move in the early summer. Despite all this, her faith keeps her going. “It’s a hard life, but I’ve done well,” she affirmed.
Holding Fast to Hope
Janie is especially thankful for what Mercy Medical Angels does. “They’re miraculous, amazing, a gift, just a wonderful organization.” When the obstacles seem too high, Mercy Medical Angels raises her up on wings of hope.
Caught Off Guard
Anissa was a business professor in Tennessee. In 2007, she married and soon after became pregnant. During her pregnancy, her health took an unexpected turn. “I was out of breath, like an athlete,” Anissa said, “except I wasn’t an athlete.” She suspected something was wrong. Her suspicions were proved correct when she went in for routine blood work. The results came back with a grim diagnosis: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM. She also was diagnosed with a potentially fatal liver disease. Anissa needed a double organ transplant. In her words, “It’s like tasting death every time you need a major organ.”
Because of complications from HCM and liver disease, Anissa had to quit her job. She was running out of resources. Worse, she was running out of time.
Travel for Transplant
The doctors in Tennessee were unable to help Anissa. “The doctors were only treating my condition, not curing it.” That meant Anissa’s best option was to seek a cure somewhere else. After conducting some research, she learned that she would have to go to the transplant specialists at Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic is over 700 miles away from her home. She couldn’t afford to travel such a long distance.
One day, Anissa looked on the Internet for help. That’s when she found Mercy Medical Angels. Mercy Medical Angels paid for airline tickets so Anissa could travel to Mayo Clinic. In 2013, she received a life-saving double organ transplant: a new heart and a new liver. She is now recovering. Anissa says that one of the main reasons she stays strong is her family, especially her two sons.
When asked how Mercy Medical Angels impacted her life, Anissa’s answer shows signs of hope. “Things were looking down for a while. Now, things are finally starting to look up.”
My name is Teresa, and I am a mother of two beautiful daughters. When my youngest, Carrie was just three months old, she stopped eating, and I knew something was wrong. At first, our family pediatrician suggested we try a different formula. My mother’s intuition said it was something more, and after several tests, she was diagnosed with Leukemia. I was referred to a pediatric specialist at MD Anderson Hospital in Houston, Texas. The doctor’s office is over 700 miles from our home. We do not have the financial means to travel this long distance, and all I could think of was how I could get my baby there so she could see the specialist and receive the life-saving medical care she needed.
When I called to make her an appointment, the doctor’s office recommended Mercy Medical Angels as a possible solution for our transportation needs. Cathy, a Mercy Medical Angels mission coordinator, was so professional and helpful she immediately went into action and was able to provide us airline tickets at no cost to us. I cried tears of joy because this alleviated the burden of transportation for Carrie’s specialized treatment plan.
Without the help of Mercy Medical Angels, we would not be celebrating Carrie’s 5th birthday next month. My husband and I are thankful that Mercy Medical Angels was there when we needed them and we want them to be able to continue to be there for families like ours. So we reached out to Robb Alpaugh, President of Mercy Medical Angels. He said, “It’s simple we follow our mission to ensure we help as many patients as we can.”
“The mission of Mercy Medical Angels is to ensure that no one in need is denied medical care because they don’t have transportation. Mercy Medical Angels provides FREE transportation on the ground with gas cards, bus and train tickets and in the air with commercial airlines and general aviation flights. Mercy Medical Angels serves children, adults, elderly and veterans every day.”
Our story is one of many. Mercy Medical Angels provides transportation to and from life-saving medical care to patients in need. They are HOPE Delivered Daily.
Mercy Medical Angels needs your HELP! Please support the mission and make a gift to Mercy Medical Angels to celebrate Carrie’s birthday or in honor of Mother’s Day! Your donation will allow families, like ours, the opportunity to live the full, happy lives they deserve.
Donate today by returning your donation in the envelope provided or donate online at www.MercyMedical.org/donate-now
Decorated World War II veteran and Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic Pilot of the Year John Billings is taking the flight of a lifetime around America to raise awareness of public benefit flying while fulfilling his dream.
The flight is attracting media attention everywhere John and his co-pilot, Nevin Showman, go. Watch this excellent news segment from the NBC affiliate in Albemarle County, Virginia.