GREAT FALLS – Jennifer Ratliff of Great Falls was 28 weeks pregnant when she suffered major complications that displaced several major organs.
Ratliff recalls little of the emergency flight that rushed her to a Seattle hospital.
“I died twice and then I came back…the only thing I ever remember when that happened was me just waking up and…feeling my belly, you know, because I was pregnant. And then I was worried about my son and they’d be like, ‘Jen, you hear that heartbeat? You hear that heartbeat? That’s your son’s…your son’s OK,’ and then I just remember passing out and then I woke up like two weeks later In ICU.”
That flight was the first of several for Ratliff, “this has been happening for three years, Angel Flight has been helping me go back and forth to Seattle for three years.”
Angel Flight West is an organization that coordinates free transportation for patients in need through a network of volunteer pilots, one of whom is Great Falls businessman Jim Taylor, who has been flying Angel Flight missions for about 10 years.
“It’s hard not to develop a tremendous care for these people I mean that’s why you do it,” Yaylor said. “Jennifer was one of those people that touches your heart so deeply that it keeps you coming back; I mean, she’s a medical miracle.”
Ratliff’s condition forced doctors to remove her stomach along with parts of her esophagus and colon, “I’ve come a long way…I’ve come long, long, long way; I was in horrible condition.”
Her condition will never be easy but she is alive and she has the volunteers of Angel Flight to thank for it: “If Angel Flight wasn’t here I wouldn’t be here, you know? Angel Flight saved my life many times.”
But Taylor also gives credit to a higher power: “We really believe there’s angels involved.”
Click here to visit the Angel Flight West site.