Mercy Flight is “the most wonderful organization I’ve ever dealt with,” according to former patient, John Delellis. Mercy Flight, he says, is operated by top-notch medical professionals, top-notch human beings, “the best people” in our society.
Delellis, then a 53-year-old sales engineer, made use of Mercy Flight on July 3, 2005. Delellis and his wife were enjoying a motorcycle ride along Route 18 in Youngstown when they hit a patch of gravel on the road, causing their bike to spin out of control and into a guardrail. His helmet sustaining severe damage, Delellis was knocked unconscious. He had no idea that Youngstown Volunteer Fire Company called Mercy Flight, who arrived to airlift him from the accident scene to the Erie County Medical Center [ECMC] in just 13 minutes.
Although Delellis’s wife was on the motorcycle with him, she was “not messed up as badly as [he] was.” She suffered broken ribs and a fractured foot, but did not need Mercy Flight, which is reserved for life-threatening emergencies.
Delellis’s injuries, on the other hand, devastated his body. He suffered a spinal cord injury, paralyzing him for two weeks. Delellis remembers that he was “just about dead,” because his system had shut down. Mercy Flight stabilized Delellis, and closely monitored his vital signs. The only moment Delellis remembers of that traumatic time is hearing the Mercy Flight pilot tell him in the hospital that he had never seen anyone survive with blood pressure so low.
Delellis spent eight weeks in recovery at ECMC. Upon release, he received physical therapy for nearly a year before his life returned to normal. In his spare time since recovery, Delellis likes to play golf, swim, listen to music, and enjoy the warm weather.
Delellis learned a great deal from his accident. It made him realize that life can be perilous at any time, “whether or not you’re doing something wrong.” He is now more appreciative of seemingly ordinary things that happen every day. Even the simple act of walking can’t be taken for granted.
Delellis hopes “no one ever has to use [Mercy Flight] again, but if they do, they’ll be in good hands, that’s for sure.”