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AeroAngel reunites family after 6 months in Minnesota hospital

The Watson family is reunited after spending months in Minnesota where their 5-year-old son, Alex was getting treatment at the Minneapolis Children's Hospital.

Posted: Dec 7, 2019 7:52 PM
Updated: Dec 8, 2019 10:13 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Watson family is reunited after spending months in Minnesota where their 5-year-old son, Alex was getting treatment at the Minneapolis Children's Hospital.

Alex has Hunter Syndrome, a rare genetic disease that affects less than 500 boys nationwide. Those with the disease are missing an enzyme that breaks down waste in their little bodies.

Eventually these children lose the ability to walk talk or even eat.

A doctor in Minnesota took a special interest in Alex's case and wanted to help, but the doctors weren't the only ones helping out this family.

Enter AeroAngel: a non-profit based out of Denver that flies sick children and their families to and from the hospital on private jets at no cost to them. 

These flights are for kids who can't fly commercially due to the fragility of their medical needs but don't quite need an air ambulance.

Mark Pestal is the president and founder of AeroAngel and he says he now does this full time after quitting his day job as a lawyer.

He says on average, a private jet will cost $3,000 an hour, but they will often get donations whether that be a jet to borrow or money.

Pestal says they are the only group in the country doing these long distance flights and they average one or two flights every week.

"I love aviation and have a passion for flying and to be able to help these kids out, it's just fantastic so it's just a great endeavor to be apart of," Pestal said. "It's been a real faith journey the last 10 years since we've been doing it."

He says he hopes AeroAngel can grow so they can add more planes to their fleet and help more families.

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