Eight years ago, Zoe received a rare and life-threatening diagnosis that would require regular travel for vital medical care. This diagnosis has led to Zoe and her mother, Heidi, travelling every 10 days for treatment. Hope Air supports the family with flights and accommodations that make it possible for Zoe to reach the care she needs.
When Zoe was 24 hours old doctors discovered facial discoloration and low oxygen levels. Numerous doctors struggled to diagnose Zoe’s complex symptoms, so the family took a trip from Windsor to SickKids Hospital in Toronto to investigate further.
At SickKids, Zoe was finally diagnosed with Diamond-Blackfan anemia, a rare blood disorder that occurs when the bone marrow fails to make red blood cells, which are critical for carrying oxygen from the lungs to all other parts of the body. To treat the Diamond-Blackfan anemia, Zoe was prescribed regular blood transfusions and was told that, ultimately, she would need a bone marrow transplant.
After years of challenging treatments every three months, a bone marrow match for Zoe still has not been found. The family’s local hospital lacks the resources to offer Zoe’s regular blood transfusions, and, because of this, Zoe and Heidi now travel to SickKids Hospital every 10 days for treatment.
Heidi and Zoe became accustomed to driving or taking the train when the appointments were every three months, but the trips were often longer than planned with traffic or train delays. Plus, with Zoe being sick, the journey became physically and mentally taxing.
The financial burdens of travelling far from home regularly and other medical expenses were also becoming too much for the family to handle.
“If we go every 10 days, it’s very costly. You’re wearing down your vehicle and between the cost of hotels and fuel it very quickly adds up,” says Heidi. “I didn’t feel good about travelling but that is what we have to do to save our child’s life.”
The family kept up their difficult drives and train rides until 2022 when Heidi discovered Hope Air. After eight challenging years of arranging their own travel, they finally had a better solution.
With Hope Air’s support, they can now fly to and from Zoe’s appointments with ease. They have traded in their long train rides for quick 45-minute flights. As a result, Zoe is less likely to feel sick from long trips to Toronto, and the whole family benefits from less stress caused by time apart and the financial strain of travelling frequently.
“When we leave to get on the airplane to go to Zoe’s appointments, she’s excited because it is no longer a drudging journey,” says Heidi.