A lifesaving trip free-of-charge for Cairo man - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

A lifesaving trip free-of-charge for Cairo man

CAIRO, IL (KFVS) - A Cairo man says he's finally getting the help he needs to get to medical care. And it's not costing him, or his family a dime.

It's been four years since 50-year-old Gerald West underwent surgery for removal of some cysts from his abdomen.  Over the years he's been in and out of several hospitals with complications from the surgery and recovery.

This past week he was discharged from a Cape Girardeau hospital and told he needed to return to his doctor in Chicago. But the hospital told West they could not provide him that ride.

"I just felt like they were throwing him away, especially when they said they didn't have a ride for him," said Idamae West. "And I asked them how are we supposed to get him up there? And the woman didn't give me an answer."

West has been bed-ridden since his discharge from the hospital. And he can no longer ride in his wheelchair.

That's why riding in a car or van sitting up for the trip to Chicago is out of the question.

So his mother had to find some other way to get him there. That's when she called Smart Transportation in Vienna, Illinois.

"And they offered to take us up there. And told us we didn't have to borrow money or anything to get up there. We will take you so get ready. I just praise God for them," said West.

The company has been able to tap into a grant from through the U.S. Department of Transportation. The grant is being administered by the Federal Transit Administration as part of the New Freedom grant.

"So through this grant we were able to offer them this service," said Smart's Chief Financial Officer Dori Bigler. "And we're able to give them a good deal on the trip because the grant can help us pay for the operating costs of the van."

"We were able to also purchase our stretcher-van with the funds. And it can be used for anyone who is in need of medical services, but who is not in an emergency situation."

The cost of the trip would've been more than $1,200 for the West family.

"When I heard that they were going to be able to take me, I said to myself I know it's God in Heaven," said Gerald West. "I know God was with me, he has stuck with me through all of this from the very first."

Now Gerald and his mother will be leaving for their trip to Chicago at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning.

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