When Kyson was born with a rare disease, it threw his young mother, Krista, into an overwhelming new reality. Kyson would need regular medical treatment in London, Ontario. At nearly an 800-kilometre distance, the drive could take upward of seven hours one way for Krista and her newborn. A bus ride was even longer. It was exhausting as well as expensive for the new family. But fortunately, Krista came across Hope Air early in Kyson’s healthcare journey. It has helped take the stress out of regular travel for medical care and gave Krista and Kyson precious energy back so they could focus on his well-being.
In the first two days of Kyson’s life, he was unable to hold down food and he wasn’t having bowel movements. It was cause for concern, so Kyson was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the Victoria & Children’s Hospital in London, Ontario. He stayed for several days, undergoing tests and observation. Two weeks later, he was diagnosed with a very rare condition known as Hirschsprung disease. It’s a birth defect that causes nerve cells to be missing in the large intestine. As a result, a child can’t eliminate stool and their intestines become painfully blocked.
The day after Kyson received his diagnosis, he was taken in for an eight-hour surgery to remove the section of his intestines that was affected. It was a successful operation and Kyson spent many weeks in hospital, recovering.
Krista was relieved that Kyson’s surgery helped him. But that didn’t change the fact that he would need ongoing support for his condition. Four times a year, he would need to attend appointments in London, and Krista would have to find some way to get him there—and some way to afford the trip. Though her parents offered any support they could, it was still a challenging situation to be in, one that sometimes seemed impossible to Krista.
“It was very stressful to me as a young, first-time mom. I had never travelled without my parents. And now I found myself many hours away from them with my sick baby. Once the realization hit that I had many appointments ahead of us, getting back and forth was a real concern. It caused a lot of anxiety and stress,” says Krista.
Not realizing there were services available for people in her position, Krista felt lost. Then, while she was staying at Ronald McDonald House during Kyson’s hospital stay, she came across a pamphlet with information about Hope Air. Krista knew that if she could access the travel assistance program, that would be one major worry off her plate.
Now, Kyson is 16 and he and Krista have been travelling with Hope Air for many years. They have taken both commercial flights as well as private flights with our Volunteer Pilots and they have always had amazing experiences. Connecting with Volunteer Pilots like Lee has been a particularly memorable and enjoyable experience for them.
“We had so much fun with Lee,” says Krista. “We talked the whole time. We would ask him questions and he was telling us all about his plane. We weren’t worrying about the appointment. We were having fun!”
When Kyson turns 18, he’ll no longer be followed by the children’s hospital but he will still need regular medical care. It’s very likely he’ll still need to travel a fair distance for treatment for his rare disease. When that day comes, Hope Air will continue to support him with air travel that is fast, convenient, and gets him to his appointments on time. And Krista will also be able to go with him—because emotional support is an important part of a person’s healthcare journey.