Flying to life-saving medical care helps family continue to live in northern city
A young boy from Timmins, Ontario is back to camping and riding on four-wheelers after undergoing heart treatments at a young age. With the help of Hope Air, Dean and his mother, Keisha, were able to fly to Toronto for his care and remain living in Timmins.
Now, at five years old, Dean still takes medication for his heart that he will outgrow as he gets older, but the flights from Hope Air have meant that he has avoided long, uncomfortable drives and can still live in his remote city.
From the time he was born, Dean had spent a lot of his life in the hospital. He had been having health issues since birth that required him and his mother to regularly travel 8 hours each way just to access health care. At just two days old, he required surgery for omphalocele, a rare birth defect where the intestines are outside of the abdomen.
A few months later, Dean was experiencing blue spells, which are short periods where the blood flow to his lungs was reduced, caused by a narrowing of the pathways from his heart. He required another surgery in Toronto to help his heart send enough blood to his lungs.
After returning home to recover, Dean’s health did not improve. He was on the verge of heart failure. His diagnosis meant that he required frequent treatments at SickKids Hospital in Toronto. Flying was too expensive and driving, which she had done in the past for Dean’s treatments, was taking its toll and was especially dangerous during the winter months when snow and ice would cause treacherous driving conditions.
Already experiencing financial strain, Keisha was concerned about how she would get Dean to his treatments safely. She had tried living in Toronto in the past, and she knew the cost of living in the city long-term was not feasible.
Keisha finally heard about Hope Air through a friend of her mother and reached out for help. Hope Air provided Dean and his mother with flights to and from his treatments in Toronto.
“You feel like no one is there to help because you’re going through so much. Hope Air has taught me that if you just reach out and ask, people are willing to help you out. I am beyond grateful. I don’t think any words can express how thankful we are,” said Keisha.
Keisha and Dean have also used Hope Air’s Volunteer Pilot Program (VPP) to return home when it was too late to take a commercial flight. Keisha was unsure how they were going to back to Timmins, but Hope Air arranged for a private pilot to take them there.
“That was the best experience. I didn't fly before Hope Air. The pilot was so kind. He let me know what was happening, and he made sure I felt safe. He was kind of like a tour guide too, which was quite fun,” says Keisha.
Dean is doing much better today. He loves games, puzzles, going camping in the summer and spending time with his family.