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The Southwest Airline’s Medical Transportation Grant Program Offers More than Travel

As program manager of the Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program, I am humbled by the opportunity to offer complimentary airfare to medical patients who need to travel for treatment. Over the past five years since we first started the program, I’ve noticed that our Medical Transportation Grant Program offers so much more than travel —it offers hope, relief, compassion, and a lighter burden for families. More than 27,000 patients’ lives have been positively impacted through this unique program, and each of these patients has a story to share.  Below, you’ll get a glimpse into the lives that have been changed through this special program: “I knew I couldn’t afford frequent travel to Barnes-Jewish hospital in St. Louis to get the treatment I needed. I can’t begin to explain how grateful my family and I are for Southwest Airline’s Medical Transportation Grant Program—everything is better.”-Barnes-Jewish patient  “Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have no idea how helpful this is. This [program] offers my son hope and a chance of living. I wasn’t sure financially how I was going to do this. You have just lifted a heavy burden. Thanks just aren’t enough. You all are blessed.” –Self-employed grant recipient  “Without the assistance from the Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program, I would be unable to receive the quality of care for my upcoming surgery at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. This assistance has been a tremendous relief for me and my family.” – Cancer patient  Southwest is now accepting applications from hospitals and medical transportation charities to participate in the 2014 program.  Nonprofit hospitals and medical transportation organizations can apply online by visiting now through September 30.  We’re in the business of changing lives, and over the next few weeks we’ll share more heartwarming stories where we’ve had the privilege of making a positive difference. We wanted to introduce you to one more special girl, Ann Louise –her mom, Mary Beth, reached out to us to share her thanks and some great photos of Ann Louise traveling for her medical treatment: Ann Louise 1 "Boston Children's Hospital was the only place performing Fetal Heart Surgery.   It is crucial we travel to Boston in order to maintain Ann Louise's medical care as these doctors know how to care for fetal heart children, like Ann Louise.  Thanks to Southwest Airlines and Miracle Flights for Kids, they have closed the financial and geographical gap between our home and the care Ann Louise needs." Ann Louise 2 The Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program was created in response to a need that was repeatedly expressed to the airline—families facing serious illnesses need to travel for treatment. When the Medical Transportation Grant Program began in 2008, Southwest donated 1,700 tickets to 13 hospitals and organizations. What started as a small effort to make a difference has grown into a nationwide movement, benefiting thousands of individuals and hundreds of communities. Since the program’s inception, Southwest has donated more than $10 million in free travel. Today, we now support more than 90 hospitals and organizations nationwide for patients seeking medical treatment. #LUVFromtheHeart
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I read about the Medical transport on Facebook from Southwest Airlines. This would be a true blessing for me. I was diagnosed with a rare myxoid liposarcoma in June of 2013. I have to travel from Carl Junction, MO to Houston for treatments and appointments. How can I apply for the medical transport from Tulsa to MD Anderson on Southwest Airlines? I can not afford to fly and the 10 hour trip one way is becoming unbearable. Please help to find out how I can make this a little easier. Thank you LaDonna Smith
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Hi LaDonna, First, I’m so very sorry to hear of your diagnosis and that you must travel away from home to receive your treatment. After reading your comment, I can certainly understand it’s been a very stressful time both emotionally and financially. Please allow me to explain how our partnership with MD Anderson works. Through the Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program, we donate tickets to the hospitals and then the hospitals determine which patients they are able to support based on need. While we would LUV to directly work with the patients ourselves we are unable to for two reasons: 1) HIPPA laws prevent us from asking questions to determine someone's need and creates liability issues for the Company; and 2) Southwest's charitable budget is designated to only support nonprofit organizations, which is why we must work with the hospitals. To that end, with your permission I’m happy to send your contact information to our contact at MD Anderson. Please know that while we support the hospital, we cannot guarantee their assistance. As mentioned above, each hospital is allowed to best determine which patients will receive the tickets donated by Southwest Airlines. Thanks, Whitney
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It is pretty amazing to see an airline like South West perform some kind of angels flight . Normally, those are made by specific association, this prove Southwest is an illuminated airline and today there are not so many airlines capable to think to others and not just to balance sheet.
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Do you work with the Loma Linda Heart Institute in California? We need help getting someone back from California to Arizona. He had unexpected surgery on his heart while on vacation and is now stable enough for medical transport back to Arizona but insurance says they wont pay for it.