SAA and Virgin Australia collaborate to change three young African lives


Thanks to the combined efforts of South African Airways (SAA) and its codeshare partner in Australia, Virgin Australia, three young Ugandan kids are receiving life-changing surgery and treatment here in this country.


According to Trent Malcolm, SAA’s Sales Manager for Queensland, the airline partnered with Brisbane-based charity Droplets in a Stream to fly a young girl, Mary, to Australia for urgent treatment. Two more young boys, Robert and Benson are also soon to receive surgery.


“Mary was 15 years old when she swallowed acid, leaving her oesophagus so badly scarred she couldn’t eat or drink. For eight years, she has been kept alive by a feeding tube,” Trent said following Mary’s successful surgery at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle.


“Doctors operated on Mary to reconstruct her oesophagus so she can live a normal life again. Without this life-changing surgery, Mary would have continued to live with a feeding tube. The surgery was a success and Mary took her first sip of fluid in eight years last week and we’re hopeful she will soon be able to eat and drink normally,” Trent said.


“Two boys, Robert, 10, who is a child sacrifice survivor who cannot walk and Benson, 8, who has been unable to go to the toilet on his own after a medical mishap in a Ugandan hospital are arriving this week to undergo surgery in The Mater, Brisbane and Newcastle John Hunter Hospitals.


Trent said that SAA’s management and staff in Australia and Uganda worked closely with Rodney Callanan, Director of Droplets in a Stream to bring the three young people and their carers to Australia all the way from Uganda.


“I am so grateful to SAA and Virgin Australia for helping bring Mary, Robert and Benson and their carers to Australia so they could have this surgery,” said Rodney. “I’m so amazed by both airlines’ generosity in providing all of the international and domestic flights and relevant care.”


“On the international flights from Uganda, SAA’s staff and flight attendants were so helpful and made the trip extremely comfortable,” he said. “It was the first time the young people have ever been on a plane, but they felt so safe and reassured during the whole journey. Virgin Australia took over in Perth and with the same dedication to service ensured they all arrived at their destinations safely to undergo treatment,” Rodney said.


Trent said SAA is looking forward to flying all three kids home once they have been cleared by their doctors to fly.


“We’ve been honoured to assist these three brave young people to ensure they can undergo such life-changing surgery here in Australia and just seeing Mary’s smile following her successful treatment has been worth all the effort.” Trent concluded.

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