(SOUTHERN COLORADO) – Like any child, Audrey is fascinated with flying. At just 11 months old, she is no stranger to the friendly skies. Unfortunately, diagnosed with a rare liver disorder that requires a liver transplant, Audrey has traveled more than most kids will their entire childhood.
“Audrey was diagnosed with psoriasis and needed a liver transplant three months ago,” Audrey’s mother, Karin Crawford said.
Full disclosure, Karin is my sister and Audrey is my niece. Earlier this year, we found out she needed a lifesaving procedure and the best place for her wasn’t in her hometown of Tucson, Arizona. Doctors recommended the Children’s Hospital of Colorado in Aurora 900 miles away.
“We made a couple of trips in the car which is about 15 hours one way,” said Crawford.
Audrey’s father, John, was a perfect match and donated his liver to save his daughter’s life in July.
After going back and forth twice to Colorado in the car, Audrey and her family finally climbed on board Angel Flight West.
Angel Flight West’s volunteer pilots fly people to medical appointments at no cost to the passenger.
If someone has a rare condition, requires specialized medical treatment or surgery, has a difficult to diagnose condition, or has a child with a rare or serious illness, they may need to travel far to get treatment.
Every day, Angel Flight West is closing the barrier and making it easier for families in need by cutting transportation costs out of the picture.
While the cost of the treatment is often covered by health insurance, the cost of travel rarely is. The cost of travel is a barrier for many people in getting the healthcare they need for themselves or their children.
Dwayne Button, a volunteer pilot with Angel Flight, is one of nearly 3,000 volunteers. That includes both pilots and earth angels, the people who provide ground transportation once their precious cargo lands.
Button says, “I like to feel needed. It’s nice to do something.”
The pilots not only volunteer to fly, they also provide the plane too.
“It’s such a generous community, I am continually surprised at pilots wiliness to donate their time, donate their aircraft and really go out of their way to make a difference in someone’s life,” said Alan Underwood.
In 39 years of service, Angel Flight West has taken off on 94,000 missions, serving 20,000 passengers.
“Angel flight is amazing,” said Crawford.
With all the complications, Audrey and her parents have had to return to Colorado a few more times than expected.
Crawford, a teacher, had to take a leave of absence without pay this entire school year. Audrey’s dad, John, is also an educator on a limited budget.
“It’s been a blessing. It’s also helpful financially because as you can imagine, we have a lot of medical bills,” said Crawford.
Although Audrey will require a lifetime of medical attention, they don’t foresee anymore Angel Flights. Hopefully, the next visit to Colorado will be for vacation to see Uncle Scott.
Audrey is doing fine after her latest procedure. She will celebrate her first birthday next month with mom and dad at the comfort of her home. If you want to help Audrey’s medical costs, donate here.
Angel Flight West has raised over six million dollars to host children and patients at summer camps and help pay for other unforeseen costs. To learn more about Angel Flight or donate to their missions, click here.