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Non-profit organization provides free flights for patients needing appointments, treatments

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- A West Virginia woman receiving care at Mayo Clinic, arrived in Rochester Tuesday afternoon through the help of a non-profit called Angel Flight East.

Angel Flight East provides free flights for patients in need of medical treatment far from home.

Nancy "Trina" Clay is from Mingo County in West Virgina and has been traveling to Mayo Clinic the past few years for treatment.

"No one ever wants to get sick, no one ever wants to be sick," Clay said. "And when it does happen, to know that someone still cares to give their time, to give their plane, it's humbling."

Volunteer pilots use their own airplanes and cover all flight expenses.

"The feeling, its indescribable, because we get to fly," said Angel Flight East Pilot Andrew Morrison. "Pilots love to fly. So, we're doing a labor of love and at the same time helping people who are in tough situations."

Morrison has been flying with Angle Flight East for 12 years and says it's not always a direct flight like it was Tuesday. It often takes two or three different planes to get patients to their destinations.

Clay became ill four years ago with a rare kidney disease and is also battling cancer.

She heard about the program through her state senator after calling about the rising cost of healthcare.

"Angel Flight East came to my rescue and they picked me up, brought me to Rochester, Minnesota all the way from Charleston, West Virginia," said Clay.

She said the flight was about 900 miles. This is Clay's first time using the program and she says she is very appreciative.

"It's more than I could have ever dreamed of. It's more than I could have ever thought of. It's more than I expected," Clay said.

Another volunteer pilot will arrive on Friday to take Clay home.

Clay says she will be using the organization again for other trips back to Mayo Clinic in the future.

Sarah Gannon

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