Non-profit matches volunteer pilots with patients in need of specialized care

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – For people needing medical treatment at an out-of-state hospital, taking a commercial flight can be not only stressful but in some cases financially out of reach.

Some volunteer pilots are hoping to ease that burden.

“I was so humbled,” Mingo County, WV resident Trina Clay said Tuesday. She’s battling a very rare kidney disease with the help of specialists at the Mayo Clinic. But the responsibility of planning and paying for multiple trips was heavy to carry.

“Friday I was getting ready to book a commercial airline that was going to cost me $800 to $1,000. I got a phone call on Monday from a special company that is called Angel Flight East,” Clay said.

The non-profit group Angel Flight East matches people who need to travel far from home to receive treatment for rare illnesses with volunteer pilots like Andrew Morrison.

“This was a childhood dream of mine. I never thought I’d be a pilot let alone own an aircraft,” Morrison said. “The mission spoke to me.”

Pilots volunteer their time, use their own plane and donate the fuel.

“They are so genuinely thankful and I don’t even feel the need for the thanks. I’m doing something to help as my small part to help these people who really need help. Everything is going well in my life and to be able to give back, it is just indescribable,” Morrison said.

Clay is supposed to fly back home to West Virginia Friday if all of her tests go well.

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