16 March 2010

Mercy Air Mercy Flight

To use two weather related metaphors, the end of last week turned out to be a bit of a whirlwind, but it all turned out to be plain sailing.

Last Thursday we got a call asking us if we could re-patriate Os, a Zimbabwean, to Harare. He had come down to South Africa for medical tests and the results of these tests had revealed that he had cancer in his bones throughout his body, and particularly his spine. This meant that although he didn't require any medical attention during the flight, he was still in pain and had to travel on a stretcher, and as such couldn't fly with the regular airlines. They had originally contacted MAF in Jo'burg but as their plane was busy they suggested they phone us.

The family had received quotes for a transfer from various medical companies, which had been financially prohibitive. Doing the flight at cost, we came in at just over 10% of those prices and by doing so allowed the family the chance to have their father back at home with them during his final days.

As always with these types of flight, there was a lot of arranging to do, but MAF helped us with some of the practicalities at the Jo'burg end, and Paul and Cathy flew there late on Thursday afternoon.

The following day at 06:00 we met Os, his wife Brenda and Susan, their daughter, who had flown in from New Zealand, and after loading, were taking off just before 07:00, an hour earlier than we had anticipated. The three hour flight up was cloudless and as smooth as .... well, you know... a smooth thing, which really helped Os as he would of felt every bump in his spine. Even Paul's landing in Harare was on the better side of average!

The turnaround in Harare was also smooth with the authorities being very quick and efficient, and an ambulance and crew waiting to unload Os.

We managed to get fuel in Zim for the first time in almost 10 years which was another bonus, as that meant that we could fly direct back to South Africa without having to divert to Botswana to refuel.

Os's family were great and gave us a small hamper of food for our return journey. They also gave us a card which really touched us. Inside it read:

"Dear Mercy Air Angels (they must have known Cathy was coming up!).
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for bringing our Dad safely home. Without your help and intervention he would not be able to spend the rest of his days at home with us"

No day here is ever just another day in the office. But knowing you can make such a difference in peoples lives by a relatively routine flight, makes all the rushing around arranging it, more than worth it.

Again, thank you to those who make it possible for us to be in a position to help in this way.

Mercy Air team