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"Angels in the Air": how Pilots for Patients is helping Teddy Fletcher's fight for a new kidney

MONROE, La. - 11-month-old Teddy Fletcher's blue eyes and smile steal the attention of any room he's in.

"He's really happy," says his mom Leigh Fletcher. "He's really good. He's spoiled a little bit, a lotta bit. If he ever figures out how to walk, we're in trouble."

Although his adorable face wouldn't show it, he's fighting for his life.

A battle that started before Leigh and Bear, his dad, could even hold him.

Teddy developed a bladder obstruction in the womb, causing kidney failure.

"Basically he was never able to pee," says Leigh Fletcher. "They prepare you for the worst. Like really bad stuff. You just can not Google anything when they tell you something. Cause if you Google it, it's bad, i mean it's not good."

Doctors recommended an abortion, but that was never really an option.

"So we just let it go, and miraculously I kept good fluid," says Leigh Fletcher.

Nearly a year later, Teddy spends every night with "Sarah", his dialysis machine.

"Nine hours a night," says Leigh Fletcher. "Nine hours, seven days a week."

Which creates an issue when his family needs to travel outside of Louisiana for appointments.

Thankfully, they found help with Monroe's Pilots for Patients program.

A non-profit that takes families in need, like the Fletcher's, from Monroe to different cities where they can get the specific medical services they need.

In April, Pilots for Patients flew the Fletchers to Birmingham for an appoitment at University of Alabama-Birmingham hospital.

This time, the Fletchers traveled with volunteer pilot Albert Tucker, who took off from his job as Vice President of Utility Operations at Curtis Stout in Shreveport to fly Teddy's family...

"It's a great family," says Tucker. "And they've got an unbelievable story. It's a great opportunity to give."

The Fletchers didn't have to pay a penny.

Instead, Tucker covers the four to five hundred dollar trip himself.

"It's like a lot of people are doing for their neighbors and families," Tucker says. "It's just, i'm able to do it with an airplane."

An act that isn't just generous, but makes all the difference for Teddy.


"It allows us to get there in time to hook him up to his dialysis machine," says Bear Fletcher. "Or get him back home to hook up, or whatever we need to do. The ability to get there in an hour and a half instead of 6 or 7 hours is a very fortunate thing to do. Something we couldn't do on our own, without a doubt." 

This trip produced some great news for the Fletchers.

Teddy was able to be placed on a transplant list, and soon doctors will begin testing to find him a match.

"If we can get him a new one, hopefully, if everything goes well, he'll live somewhat of a normal life," says Leigh Fletcher. "I mean he'll be on medicines for the rest of his life, but other than that I mean he'll be somewhat normal."

For now, Teddy will continue doing what he's always done.

Keep fighting, with a smile on his face.

If you or anyone you know would be willing to donate, visit UABmedicine.org/donateakidney.

For the "Intended Recepient" portion, fill in Azrel Fletcher, and 05/08/2017 for the DOB.

Teddy and his parents will also be out at the 21st annual Race Judicata at ULM Saturday, May 5th, wearing their Team Teddy shirts.

Proceeds for the 5k race and walk benefit Pilots for Patients.


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