Asante Conley was only five years old when he was pre-diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on New Year’s Eve 2015.
Sheree had taken Asante to hospital that evening on New Year’s Eve, which was also his fifth birthday, concerned with what she thought was a virus. Instead, she received the shocking news at around the midnight hour that her precious curly-haired boy, Asante, was pre-diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.“He was such a healthy boy,” she said, “and within several hours he was having two blood transfusions.”
“He was such a healthy boy,” she said, “and within several hours he was having two blood transfusions.”
“I was in total shock! I don’t remember much about those late night hours on New Year’s Eve, but I knew my family was celebrating New Year and I had to give them the news. I waited a couple of hours before calling them and when I did, no one believed me.”
Asante’s flight of urgency to Starship Hospital was the BayTrust Rescue Helicopter’s first mission for the New Year.
“The helicopter crew was very compassionate,” said Sheree who lived through some of her darkest hours.
Pilot Barry Vincent says: “Assisting in making Asante’s flight as comfortable as it could be in the circumstances, was important to us. It is hard for us when kiddies are involved as we all have young families ourselves.”
Asante faced nine months of chemotherapy with outstanding courage. Six months into his treatment during its most intense period, and with no immunity left to fight illness, Asante was again admitted to Rotorua Hospital, this time with viral pneumonia stemming from a cold. His illness required another urgent transport to Starship without delay. The BayTrust Rescue Helicopter, already tasked with another mission, called in the services of the Tauranga based Trustpower TECT Rescue Helicopter, due to the Philips Search & Rescue Trust’s ability to provide multiple machines.
“It was dire,” said Sheree. “Asante’s blood count was zero and he had already undergone three platelet and blood transfusions prior to our transport to Starship. The rescue helicopter flights were vital to his treatment.”
This year helicopter crew met the Conley family again in much happier circumstances at the BayTrust Rescue Helicopter Open Day.
“I knew we just had to get to the Open Day,” said Sheree. “I remember the pilot saying to Asante the day he transported him, “come and see me when you’re better,” so here we are.”
Sheree concludes: “It’s the wrap-around service we have received from the BayTrust Rescue Helicopter, Trustpower TECT Rescue Helicopter, Rotorua Hospital, Starship Hospital and Child Cancer Foundation – everyone. We have been so well taken care of.”