Non-profit organization provides free flights for patients needing medical care

Mackenzie Davis
Updated: April 22, 2021 05:25 PM
Created: April 22, 2021 03:56 PM

(ABC 6 News) - A West Virginia woman arrived in Rochester on Tuesday to receive care at Mayo Clinic with the help of a non-profit, Angel Flight East

Angel Flight East is a non-profit organization out of Pennsylvania providing free flights to patients and families to distant medical centers, such as Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

"Angel Flight East came to my rescue and they picked me up, brought me to Rochester, Minnesota from Charleston, West Virginia," Nancy Katrina Clay, a Mayo patient from Mingo County in West Virginia, said. 

Clay became ill four years ago with a rare kidney disease that she gets treated at Mayo Clinic in Rochester for, along with cancer treatment. 

"No one ever wants to get sick, no one ever wants to be sick and when it does happen, to know that someone still cares to give their time, to give their plane," Clay said.

She has received care at Mayo Clinic many times before, but this is her first time being flown to Rochester, free of cost.

Clay says she is so humbled because this doesn't cost her anything and that she has never heard of Angel Flight East.

"I was pretty much the queen today on the plane, I really was," Clay said.

The volunteer pilots dedicate their time, their plane and their fuel. The flight costs are taken care of by the pilot. 

"The feeling is... it's indescribable because we get to fly, pilots love to fly. So we're doing a labor of love and at the same time, helping people who are in tough situations," volunteer pilot for Angel Flight East, Andrew Morrison, said. 

Morrison has been flying for the non-profit for about 12 years now.

"We know we're making a difference and it really feels great," Morrison said.

For some people like Clay who are sick or have autoimmune diseases it can be dangerous for them to travel on a crowded airplane, especially right now during COVID-19, so Angel Flight East is a plus.

It's not always a direct flight. Usually, there are two or three planes involved in getting a patient to where they need to go. But this time, there was only one. Morrison says this one was a special one.

Clay says she will definitely be using Angel Flight in the future. Another pilot will arrive Friday to take her back home to West Virginia.

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