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Caregiver Angry With Businessmen As Unwell Teen Offloaded

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Richard Miller for NZPA

Blenheim, Feb 24 NZPA - Blenheim-bound businessmen sat "like lumps of concrete" while a sick child recovering from a three-hour operation at Auckland's Starship Hospital was forced to sit in a "sweltering" airplane on the tarmac at Auckland Airport, a care worker says.

Picton care support worker Juanita Crossland said she was disgusted that not one of the businessmen on the flight offered to give up their seats when the pilot made an appeal for someone to get off due to overloading.

She said the fully-loaded plane with about 20 passengers, including Blenheim 12-year-old Pete Thompson - who suffers from multiple health problems - was due to leave Auckland last Wednesday night at 6pm but did not leave until 8.30pm.

"The pilot asked for one volunteer passenger to get off and although the plane was full of men not one offered.

"Where has chivalry gone? I thought it was uncaring of them and really bad manners because they could see we had a sick child. I was really disappointed in the behaviour of the adult men. I would have expected them to do the decent thing.

"Quite clearly they couldn't care about anything except getting home. If I had not had a sick child I would have volunteered myself.

"I was just disgusted at the way they sat there like lumps of concrete totally without feeling while I was looking after Pete in the back of the plane."

She said Pete looked "really terrible" because it was so hot and stuffy. He was still on pain killers and medications after the operation to remove bone growth from his arm on Monday afternoon.

Surgeons at Auckland's Children's Starship Hospital cut out two centimetres of bone and inserted a metal plate in an attempt to straighten the deformed arm.

Mrs Crossland said eventually Pete's mother Rebecca Thompson, who also accompanied her son to hospital, volunteered to get off the plane but the pilot said she needed to be with her son. Another woman in her thirties then volunteered and the plane took off.

Since birth Pete has had 25 operations to combat rare Klippel-Feil syndrome which causes multiple health problems affecting the spine, heart, lungs, and kidneys.

Mrs Thompson praised the pilots and said she was impressed with how they handled the situation.

But she was not so happy with the businessmen.

"They were disgustingly rude and abusive at the delay in front of the children and I thought it was totally unnecessary."

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