In November of 2017, I had knee replacement surgery in Toledo, Ohio. I had the surgery in Toledo because of the convenience to my mother. By the time the surgical date came my mother had passed so we also had to prepare to windup her estate.
When I was cleared by my surgeon in Ohio to return home to Iron Mountain, I was told that I would have to stop during the drive every hour and walk for 15 minutes. This meant that a normal 8-9 hour trip would take 2 days or more. As we prepared for this trip, our neighbor, Tom Sullivan, was aware of our situation and said that Air Lifeline might be able to help me make the trip in a matter of a couple hours.
After a couple of telephone conversations, a flight was arranged for Saturday, December, 2017. I was scared because it was snowing horribly in Toledo. But Dr. ……….. and Mr. Knudsen arrived, took a short break, helped me get into the plane, loaded my cat Pepper into the seat next to me and off we went. We arrived to no snow in Iron Mountain. I could not have asked for a more phenomenal trip home. My husband followed by car the next day. It was so nice to be able to go home weeks earlier and not have to endure a long stop and go car trip.
In December 2016 our son, Caleb, was diagnosed with Lymphoma. This news was such a shock because his only symptom was a persistent cough for a few weeks. We were rushed downstate to Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids The next year to follow was a total whirlwind from then on. A parent will never forget the high level of stress and emotion that was thrust upon us throughout the rigorous chemotherapy, side effects, and serious complications our child had to endure. Caleb’s only option for treatment was 7 hours away from home. He had to go to the hospital at least once a week for over a year.
It was only a couple days after Caleb’s diagnosis that someone told us about travel assistance via air through Northwoods Airlifeline. When I first heard of it I honestly thought it was way too good to be true. No way could we receive donated flights to and from our appointments. That would mean less time in the car with a sick child, more time for work, and more support from our friends and family back at home. I remember thinking that news was such a bright light cast on such an overwhelmingly dark situation. When I called Northwoods I quickly discovered it was true. They could help us make this situation so much more manageable.
What I learned from our experience with Northwoods was way beyond the quick 90 minute flights to and from our appointments. One wouldn’t think anything could be more important than not driving 7 hours through treacherous weather with a child who is extremely sick after chemotherapy. Not only was Airlifeline super easy to work with but every one of their pilots was an angel to us; especially to our boy. They did everything in their power to get us to and from our appointments even though frequently there were complications causing us to stay overnight in the hospital unexpectedly. This often resulted in them making multiple trips just for us. The even bigger impact I found was that our boy never smiled more than when he was on those flights. That was the best gift of all considering we would go days without seeing his precious smile because he was so sick.
Now Caleb only gets chemotherapy once a month. Thankfully we see his smile and hear his laughter multiple times a day. Not too many days go by that we don’t talk about our flights and the amazing pilots that helped pull us through that tough time. We definitely don’t miss those intense treatments but we do miss the friendships and amazing views we experienced! We have some of the best memories from those flights even though it was the hardest time of our life! We will never, ever forget and recommend Northwoods Airlifeline to anyone we hear can benefit from it!
Thank you Northwoods Airlifeline!
13 year old, Caleb Bell and his family
I was recently contacted by a representative of Northwoods Airlifeline. I was asked to provide a short message as to what Northwoods Airlifeline meant to me. This, for me, is a very difficult task. How would I ever be able to put into words the fact that Northwoods Airlifeline helped save my life? 9 Years ago, I was advised by doctors at the university of Michigan Hospital, that, due to a severe lung problem, that occurred shortly after birth, I had less than 1 year left to live. Fortunately I was a lifetime nonsmoker. My only hope would be to have a successful double lung transplant. At that point, I agreed to explore this option, and we put the wheels in motion. Of course the difficulty of this procedure would be heightened due to the fact that my residence is nearly 8 hours from Ann Arbor, Michigan. We selected the University of Michigan Hospital, as 3 specialists from other facilities, advised that, for my condition, the best doctors in the world were there. Normally, donated organs have an approximate 4 hour life. Thru the grace of god, and a lot of prayer, I received my transplant call, advising of available lungs on June 13, 2009. My flight plans were already “set in stone” as a result of the professional attention of Mr. Bruce Rutter, and associates. We left Ford Airport at noon on June 13th, under the watchful eyes of Mr. Tom Sullivan. We landed at Ann Arbor airport at 1:18 p.m.. I was driven to the hospital by my wife, sister and brother-in-law and as they say, “the rest is history”. I truly believe that, is it wasn’t for Northwoods Airlifeline, I would not be alive today. My hopes are that most, if not all, in our community, will choose to support this wonderful volunteer organization.
Thank you, Northwoods Airlifeline – you are a life saver!!! Nick Simone