Passenger Stories

Heidi Moore

“AFSE’s pilot Richard Smith is God’s gift to mankind. Michelle Cavaretta is an absolute Angel.”

Rave reviews for the organ donor that helped save seven-year-old Heidi’s life? Certainly the organ donor was the biggest contributor to this success story, but these compliments from Heidi’s foster mom are for the pilot and overnight mission coordinator that transported the little girl to the hospital in time for her transplant.

Getting to the medical facility in time, while the transplanted organ is still acceptable, is one of the biggest hurdles that transplant patients face today. The perfect match may be waiting for the next transplant candidate “in line” to receive that organ, but if it’s at a far away hospital, the candidate may miss their opportunity.

Angel Flight™ Southeast provides one of the few avenues available today to overcome the transportation hurdle. Laura Moore, Heidi’s foster mother, found that out the hard way.

Heidi was on the list for an intestinal transplant operation. Her foster daughter would need spur-of-the-moment transportation, probably in the middle of the night when an organ became available. Since a commercial flight would be impossible, she asked many organizations for help but came up empty-handed. Near the end of her “hope rope,” a chance encounter with AFSE pilot Larry Bishop provided the answer. He told her about Angel Flight™ Southeast’s transplant program.

Every transplant candidate enrolled with AFSE™ does so in advance of their operation and is assigned five, and up to 15 pilots, to be on standby 24/7 until the operation is completed.

In Heidi’s case, Larry Bishop, John Barnett and Richard Smith volunteered to fly the mission when the time came. On the cold night in January when a match became available, it was Richard Smith who was able to fly the mission from the end of one state deep into another to get Heidi there on time.

Laura Moore is happy to report that today Heidi, while still under close medical supervision, seems on her way to a normal childhood. Bouncing around in her bunny costume on Easter weekend, the beautiful little girl was getting rave reviews all her own.

For more information about enrolling in the Angel Flight™ Southeast transplant transportation program, call 1-800-352-4256.

Pilots who are interested in participating in the Transplant Program can call Angel Flight™ Southeast at 352-326-0761.