LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – A Lancaster County pilot is helping a boy diagnosed with a rare disease by flying him to hospital visits.
It’s saving his family thousands in medical care. Now, the two have become family.
“I love him. I mean, what can you say? There’s a connection,” pilot Craig Groff said.
That connection is saving Brayton Martin’s life.
“It’s been a really rough journey,” his mother Lisa Martin said.
Brayton had a 30 percent chance of living after he was diagnosed a with a rare blood disorder known as Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) when he was two months old. The disease started with a cold and red spots all over his body. A bone marrow transplant was his only way to survive. He got that, but what he also got was a lifelong friend.
“It’s probably the most special one,” Groff said.
Groff lives in Lancaster and volunteers his free time to fly patients to life saving medical treatments through a non-profit organization called Angel Flight East. He’s been flying Brayton to Cincinnati for almost all of his treatments for six years.
“I got to see him when he was just a baby with tubes coming out of him. It just broke your heart,” Groff said.
Today, Brayton is a walking miracle, but he’s always in remission. That’s where Craig comes in.
“Typically, you’re flying to their destination. You’re dropping and you’re leaving, that’s what you do,” Groff said.
The families have become friends, turning hospital visits into mini-vacations.
“He gives Brayton his own headset and Brayton’s learned when he can talk. He’s learned how air traffic control works. Craig has let him change the gas,” Martin said.
Now, Brayton knows exactly what he wants to be when he grows up.
“I want to be a pilot,” he said.
Brayton’s next flight is in six months.