Six years ago, Cohen Hildebrand was rushed to hospital by STARS Air Ambulance after suffering an arterial rupture while recovering from surgery that saw his tonsils and adenoids removed. After he was stabilized enough for transport at Boundary Trails Hospital, located between Morden and Winkler, Hildebrand was flown to a hospital in Winnipeg within a matter of minutes of boarding the helicopter.
He remembers bits and pieces of the short flight.
"They kept pushing me over and telling me to stay awake. They didn't want me to fall asleep because they knew that I might not come back from that," he explained. "Looking out the window and seeing all of the lights from Winkler, Morden and Winnipeg scattered out, just being a glittering mirage of lights shining up like beacons. It was a bizarre feeling because it was over almost immediately."
In Winnipeg, Hildebrand got the help he needed and survived to tell the tale.
"In the weeks after...I had to completely learn how to eat again and drink things because I didn't have anything in my throat to separate what was there and so, whenever I would drink anything it would immediately come out my nose," he explained. "Thanks to them (STARS), I am able to be here and back to full health."
It's stories like Hildebrand's that are behind the annual Critical Care on the Air Radiothon for STARS where we will be raising money for this life-saving service in Manitoba.
Join us May 18th and 19th from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. where STARS crew members, Very Important Patients (VIPs) like Hildebrand, and others will join us to share their in-air experiences and why they believe “every life is worth fighting for”.
"They need support so that they can continue to do the amazing work that they do," said Hildebrand. "Since I've been through this scenario, I can say that STARS is doing wonderful things for people. They save so many people every year, people like me that without them, we wouldn't have stood a chance. We would be here today. We wouldn't be the same as we are."
Hildebrand's mom, Megan, says the service STARS provides in Manitoba is essential.
"In the moment that you need STARS, you won't be able to ask for them because you won't have the capacity for it," she said. "After you've received their care, you realize what a void they fill...once they've touched your life, you just can't imagine that that service wouldn't be around."
Call 1-877-577-8277 or text 'STARS' to 45678 to make a $25 donation. Online donations can be made here.
As a non-profit organization, STARS operates on a shared-funding model where costs are paid through government funding, community fundraising, individual donors and corporate support. All funds raised through the Critical Care on the Air Radiothon stay in Manitoba and helps to ensure the next time you, or someone you love needs them, STARS will be there.