At Shriners Hospital for children, we care for children from all over the world. We treat patients regardless of whether they can pay for their care, but we are not allowed to pay for transportation to the hospital. And we cannot care for patients if they cannot make it in to see us. Many of our children are driven in by volunteers throughout the Shriners organization, and others make their way to us by raising the money on their own. For the past four years, the Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program has assisted with patients’ travel. It was this program that made it possible for one such patient, Toby Shaw, to travel to Shriners for the surgery he needed.
Toby is a regular kid who battles a rare condition called arthrogryposis, a condition that limits Toby’s ability to move his joints. It was also his arthrogryposis that landed him in our clinic, The Arthrogryposis Clinic at Shriners Hospital for Children-Philadelphia, over a year ago. As with many rare conditions, particularly those that affect children, many doctors have never seen a child in person with the condition – or if they have, they didn’t know it. Even if the condition is recognizable, the doctors don’t often know where to send these children for the care they need.
Fortunately for Toby, his parents educated themselves about his condition and were able to find a hospital with the experience and expertise to treat Toby’s condition. Our clinic is one of the top international centers for Toby’s condition, and thanks to the Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program, Toby was able to travel from his home in Ohio to our clinic in Philadelphia to receive the care he needed.
Toby’s surgery was a success due to a combination of not only our work at Shriner’s, but the work of his parents and therapists at home. None of this would have been possible without the help from our friends at Southwest Airlines. As a doctor and a parent, I want to personally thank the people at Southwest for the great work you do that allows us to help remarkable, regular kids like Toby. To learn more about Toby’s story please check out this blog post from his mother.
Through the Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program we provide complimentary, roundtrip tickets to nonprofit hospitals and medical transportation organizations. Shriners Hospital for Children is one of 99 hospitals and medical organizations impacted through this program. In 2014, Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program will give more than $2.8 million in free transportation to patients needing to travel for treatment.