When Porter was six weeks old, he and his mom Tess came down with a cold. Tess wanted to make sure Porter’s cold wasn’t the result of something worse, so she made an appointment with Porter’s pediatrician. While they were there, she asked the pediatrician do a general checkup on Porter because she was concerned about the shape of his head. The pediatrician’s examination revealed that Porter was missing one of the two soft spots in his head that babies need to allow their brain to fully develop. Four days later, little Porter had a CT scan and was diagnosed with Craniosynostosis. The following week, Tess, her husband Josh, and Porter traveled from Amarillo to meet with the surgical team at Cooks Children’s in Fort Worth. Porter’s surgery was scheduled for three weeks later. As a result of early detection, Porter’s surgery was a success. The surgeons removed a section of his skull to allow space for his brain to grow. Thankfully, there won’t be any long-term effects as a result of the procedure. But the surgery wasn’t the only hurdle they needed to overcome. Tess also needed to find a way to continue making weekly trips to Cooks Children’s for Porter’s follow-up appointments. This meant six hours of driving to the medical facility, appointments with various doctors, an overnight stay in a hotel, and then another six-hour drive home. Traveling alone with a newborn, while her husband stayed in Amarillo to take care of their 3-year old daughter, was a daunting ordeal for Tess. Tess had already missed a lot of work and didn’t have any connections in Fort Worth to provide them with a free place to stay. Fortunately, Porter’s pediatrician knew about Angel Flight South Central and recommended the organization to Tess and Porter. Tess says that the generosity of the pilots significantly reduced the stress on her family. They are able to travel to and from appointments in less time, save money on hotel rooms, and avoid compromising Porter’s fragile immune system. The pilots land at a small nearby airport, which reduces their drive time to and from Porter’s appointments. “I don’t have much vacation time at work anymore, so Angel Flight has been able to get us down and back in a day, so I don’t have to take more than a day off work,” Tess said. AFSC volunteer pilot Scott Gloyna flew Porter and Tess recently and said that Porter was a wonderful passenger. “He is such a good kid. He smiled and laughed the entire flight,” Scott said. “It’s such a wonderful thing that we can fly kids like Porter to Cooks.”
“The times we’ve been able to schedule an Angel Flight have taken a lot of stress off us,” Tess said. “Angel Flight is an amazing program, and we feel blessed to be a part of it.”
Porter is six months old now and is thriving. He’s got an enormous smile and brightens whatever room (or plane!) he’s in. He only has to go to Cooks Children’s monthly at this point and will eventually stop his regular visits. Angel Flight is thrilled that we could be a part of Porter’s journey!