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Hospice Fulfills World War II Veteran’s Ultimate Wish
Submitted by: BAYADA Hospice

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Hospice Fulfills World War II Veteran’s Ultimate Wish

“Christmas came early for me this year,” said Mr. John Coffrin, an 87-year old patient of the Norwich, VT BAYADA Hospice office.  John is a World War II veteran, and former private pilot. On Saturday, September 27, he was able to take a final 20-minute flight thanks to his BAYADA team.                                                                   

John has always been obsessed with flying. Just two weeks earlier, when speaking to his hospice team members during a “life review” about experiences that would be important to him as he prepared for the end of his life, John mentioned his desire to experience flight and go up in a plane one last time – but he didn’t think it would be possible. Wanting to make one of his last wishes a reality, Volunteer Coordinator Christiane Dionne jumped into action.

Christiane contacted Lebanon Municipal Airport, which had already scheduled a community event to provide plane rides to local residents. Although all of the flights had already been filled, airport manager Rick Dyment offered to arrange for John and Clinical Manager Jeanette Leavitt to take a flight free of charge.

Jeanette thoroughly evaluated John’s condition and medically cleared him to fly. Many BAYADA Hospice employees and volunteers attended, including Medical Director John Saroyan, MD, to cheer on the US Navy veteran as he soared through the sky one last time and checked a very important item off his bucket list. “It was an amazing day,” said Dr. Saroyan. “When he arrived, we were all grinning from ear to ear. I was really moved.”

Although coping with dementia and forgetting many details of his past, John clearly remembers the feel and thrill of flying. After landing, John told a reporter from the Valley News how he wished he could have been the one at the controls. “I’d give them a show,” he joked.

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