April 28, 2020
AeroAngel, a Colorado nonprofit specializing in transporting children by business jets to receive distant, but life-saving medical care, recently completed a special mission amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
A young North Dakota woman had a complex back surgery in the New York area prior to the widespread outbreak of the pandemic. Due to her medical condition and suppressed immune system, she was isolated in a hotel room on Long Island for two weeks, unable to travel home, leaving she and her husband “stranded in the coronavirus epicenter for the indefinite future,” according to AeroAngel.
A family friend contacted AeroAngel, which reached out to XOJet, a California-based charter operator. XOJet happened to be flying critically needed medical cargo into New York City, and the operator arranged a discounted flight, sponsored by AeroAngel, for the North Dakotan to return home without significant risk of exposure to COVID-19.
AeroAngel Founder and President Mark Pestal says the organization is working hard to ramp up to meet the needs of more patients traveling long distances for critical medical care. Pestal explained there are more than 250 children’s hospitals in the U.S., many of which specialize in treating challenging, rare diseases, resulting in the need for some patients to travel long distances for specialized care.
“These are kids who don’t need air ambulance service, but they also can’t get on a traditional airline safely,” said Pestal. “We fill a unique niche.”
“Going forward, we anticipate that there will be an increased demand for more flights for children with compromised immune systems, given the heightened concern for vulnerable children contracting the coronavirus,” he added.
Some treatments have been postponed in order to avoid unnecessary exposure to COVID-19 in hospitals, but other treatments simply can’t wait. AeroAngel continues to safely transport children unable to hold off treatment. Postponed treatments will be rescheduled as COVID-19 is better managed and contained, which means more demand for safe transportation for children susceptible to infection. Pestal said AeroAngel plans to be ready to meet that demand.