After a long, difficult road and a lifetime of expensive medical treatments, a 15-year-old boy was able to travel to Chicago to receive potentially life-changing medical care thanks to a ‘miracle flight.’
Miracle Flights is a nonprofit organization that helps fly children in need to experts and specialists across the country that can provide specialized and advanced pediatric care.
Jake Doolittle, of Portland, Maine, is one of those children in need. Jake has never had an all-encompassing diagnosis, but essentially, he grew up sick.
“I haven’t been in school for years now because it’s been so hard,” Jake said.
Imagine having the flu for months, over and over again. Jake has had consistent fevers, fatigue and pain. He is always in pain.
Jake’s mother, Tracy Doolittle, has been to dozens of doctors without getting any answers.
It was during a recent desperate Google search that Tracy Doolittle found clinics in Chicago and California that could potentially give Jake the life-altering care he needed. But the Doolittles were out of money.
“You’ve gone through jobs, you’ve gone through your money, you’ve gone through bankruptcy,” Tracy Doolittle said. “It’s just this never ending black hole trying to find something that will help your kid.”
After further searching that same night, Miracle Flights turned up.
For 32 years, Miracle Flights has flown children like Jake to receive the treatment they need. The group just recently surpassed 106,000 flights provided and over 59 million miles flown.
“We have a cure for distance, we like to say,” Miracle Flights CEO Mark Brown said. “We don’t care where they’re from or where they’re going, as long as they can get the best care.”
Jake was flown to California, then to Chicago to work with Dr. Deborah Zelinsky at Northbrook’s Mind Eye Connection.
While working with Dr. Zelinsky, he’s learning for the first time what many of us already know how to do. To put it simply, Jake’s eyes and ears don’t work together.
“He can listen to something or watch something, but he can’t do it at the same time,” Dr. Zelinsky said.
Jake will continue to fly to Chicago for treatment thanks to Miracle Flights.
The Doolittles said when they first learned that Jake could make the trip, they received something more valuable than money: hope.
“He’s used to not having heat in the winter and the electricity being shut off, he knows there’s no money,” Tracy Doolittle said. “Then to have somebody just hand you plane tickets, it was just absolutely crazy.”