A KIND-HEARTED pilot has come to the rescue of a group of Irish patients who were set to miss long-awaited operations.
The group of 15 was booked on Saturday’s 8.30am Flybe flight from Dublin to Cardiff.
Comprised of mostly older people, the group was headed for St Joseph's Hospital in Newport, 15 miles from Cardiff, to have cataracts operations.
However they looked destined to rejoin the HSE waiting list when the flight was cancelled due to fog in Cardiff.
Fortunately an agent travelling with the group, Mary Aylward, explained the patients' situation to the pilot.
The heroic captain then persuaded his head office to allow him to fly to nearby Bristol Airport to ensure the patients would make the appointments.
The flight landed at 12.40pm, over three hours after it was due to arrive in Cardiff.
'Good human nature'
However the medical team at St Joseph’s had been notified and were waiting for the group to arrive.
After arranging a meal for the group, the operations were able to get under way.
St Joseph's Medical Director Ro Kulkarni told the Sunday Independent: "It was incredible and what it shows for me is that this could not happen but for good human nature.
“All you need is good people everywhere and anything can happen."
The group was travelling to Britain as a part of a link-up between St Joseph’s and the National Association of General Practitioners.
It is part of an initiative that encourages patients to travel elsewhere in Europe for surgery rather than join long HSE waiting lists.
Patients pay for the treatment and are reimbursed by the HSE.