Justice Nwafor bnn
3-Year-Old Islia Flies to Life-Saving Surgery with AeroAngel’s Aid, Family Expresses Gratitude
March 5, 2024
  • Share
  • Islia Stewart, a 3-year-old from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, faces a monumental journey as she travels to California for critical heart surgery, thanks to AeroAngel, a nonprofit aviation charity. Behind Islia’s vibrant personality, marked by her love for singing and dancing to ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ lies a rare congenital heart and lung defect. Her family, supported by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), has navigated numerous challenges to secure her life-saving operation.

    From Commercial Flights to Private Jets

    Islia’s journey to surgery has been fraught with obstacles, including a failed attempt to reach California via commercial flight due to her falling ill, which could jeopardize the operation. Amidst planning for a cross-country RV trip, AeroAngel stepped in, offering a safer, cost-free travel alternative for Islia’s medical needs. This gesture, valued at approximately $60,000, underscores the critical role of donations and emergency funds in facilitating such essential services.

    A Mission to Save Lives

    AeroAngel’s mission goes beyond Islia’s story, aiming to reach more children in need of distant medical care. Mark Pestal, AeroAngel’s Executive Director, highlighted the organization’s reliance on corporate, charter, and individual donations to cover flights. With each flight potentially saving a child’s life, expanding the program’s reach is paramount. Islia’s family, overwhelmed by the support from CHOP and AeroAngel, is eager to ‘pay it forward’ and raise awareness for this life-saving initiative.

    Community and Hope

    As Islia prepares for her journey to California, her family’s gratitude towards CHOP, AeroAngel, and the broader community is palpable. Their story is a powerful testament to the strength of community support in navigating the complexities of severe health challenges. Islia’s flight, scheduled for Thursday from Reading, represents not just a trip to surgery but a journey fueled by hope, kindness, and the collective effort to make a difference in one child’s life.