Generosity brings ill man back to Tennessee from Puerto Rico

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - A Scott County family thought nearly a week ago that a medical transport plane was impossible to afford. They were told they would need to find $30,000 for the proper medical transportation from Puerto Rico to Miami.

It was a different story a week later. Friends, community members and strangers from around the country donated anything they could afford. 

"I would've never thought that it would be possible to raise it in that short of time," said Heather King. 

Heather King's husband Chad caught the flu virus on a plane back to Puerto Rico. He was working as a fibrotic splicer helping with disaster relief. 

In the days following, Heather King worked to find a way to bring him home safely. That's when Judy Brown heard their story. 

"People keep asking, well how do you know Chad? I don't know Chad," said Brown. 

Although Brown grew up in Scott County, she now lives in Chicago. She started a GoFundMe for the family because she says it was on her heart to help. She knew helping raise the funds could be a blessing. 

"Everybody just started giving. I cannot say it enough about my hometown of Scott County, they have given in $5 and $10 donations," said Brown. 

Heather says a major donations came from H-Cap Communications and Contractor Dan Shepard. She says to them, and the many others she knows -- and has never met, she and their family are grateful. 

Then, Brown started making calls. She says she cold-called ministries that might be able to help, but instead was put in contact with Alia, a medical flight company. 

Within 48 hours of their first conversation, King was on a plane to Vanderbilt Medical Center. 

Jon Rosati, director of case management for Alia, says when the company learned Chad King's full story, they knew they needed to help. They didn't wait and took a deposit from the family, trusting the rest of the money would follow. 

It did. 

Rosati says Alia has affiliates all over the country. Working with the affiliate in Florida, they were able to make the trip. 

"They told us the day before to be ready by 10:30 and we'd be taking off," said Heather King. 

Chad King is now in Tennessee but Heather says doctors started all over with tests. 

"They do think that he may have possibly gotten parasites or some kind of bacterial infection. They did get a CT scan back today. They think he might have multiple - hundreds of legions on the brain." said Heather King. 

Even with a long road to recovery, Heather King says she's relieved to be back in Tennessee with family and community support close.

Brown says Heather King has complete access to the GoFundMe and all proceeds raised will go directly to the King family. 

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