A father, who lost his seven-year-old daughter, has launched an air travel charity to ensure transplant patients always have seats.
Allan Turner, from Shepparton, Victoria, decided to launch the initiative after hearing about the ordeal of 66-year-old grandfather, Garry Woods, who was turned away from a Qantas flight on his way to receive a life-saving lung transplant because check-in staff were unable to find his booking.
Mr Woods was travelling from Adelaide to Sydney, but was forced to wait another three hours and thus missed out on a pair of new lungs because of the delay.
“Are you serious here is a man that needs to be on an operation table within hours or else these lungs with his name on them will become unusable and not be good for anything especially Garry,” Mr Turner said of the incident.
Mr Turner, who started the “Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation” after his daughter, Zaidee, died suddenly from a burst blood vessel in her brain called a cerebral aneurysm in 2004, has called the initiative, “Zaidee’s Seat of Life”, which can be used in a fully-booked flight and then offers passengers up to $2500 in incentives if they give up their airline seat to accommodate a transplant patient in an emergency.
Mr Turner has written an open letter to Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar and Tigerair, asking them to review their domestic flight policies to introduce “Zaidee’s Seat of Life”.
He wrote in an online plea: “In life we learn a great deal of lessons that should never be repeated ever. This is one of them, we should never not allow a person that needs a life saving transplant to board a flight.
“If the person needing a transplant has written documentation from the transplant hospital, that can be 100 per cent confirmed, with urgent phone contact details for staff to confirm back from that hospital, then your airline should proceed to make this seat available to this person.”
He told Daily Mail Australia he hopes all airlines can get on board with an initiative which costs them nothing, but could help save lives. “I actually think most people won’t need the financial incentive… to be able to give someone the opportunity to save another person’s life is enough,” Mr Turner said.
He added in his online plea: “That would mean you as an airline, if that flight is fully booked, then kindly ask for volunteers to give up their seat to allow a very special passenger to travel instead of them.
“Then if no volunteers are offered, you offer a fantastic incentive to the first person to raise their hand to make this happen. Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation will cover the cost of this incentive and minor inconvenience to the person that gives their seat up to the value of $2,500 in travel airline ticket.”
Thankfully, Mr Turner says he has received responses from representatives of Qantas and Virgin Australia who are both looking into introducing ‘Zaidee’s Seat of Life’.
Zaidee was the only child in Victoria under the age of 16 and one of the youngest Australians to donate her organs and tissues in 2004.
She was also only one of six children nationally to donate their organs that year.