A mother died in her sleep in front of her family, including her two children, during a flight from Hong Kong to the U.K., according to a friend.
Helen Rhodes was flying with her husband Simon, and her son and daughter were returning home to the U.K. on August 5 after having lived in Hong Kong for over 15 years.
She had not seen her family since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and was looking forward to seeing them again.
A few hours into the flight, Helen became unresponsive during the flight and sadly, attempts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful.
For the next eight hours of the flight, the children were seated next to their deceased mother until the flight could land in Frankfurt, Germany.
“Although this was extremely traumatizing to the family, they all had time to say what they needed to say to her,” said Jayne Jeje, who organized a GoFundMe page created to help support the Rhodes family and their funeral costs.
When the flight landed in Frankfurt, Helen’s body was removed from the plane while Simon and the children flew back to the U.K.
Helen, who was a midwife in Hong Kong, was known as the “pulse” in Hong Kong’s Tung Chung community.
“She couldn’t walk a few feet and not run into someone she knew by name,” Jeje wrote. “She was clever, witty and generous with her time.”
In a statement to news outlets, via the Guardian, a British foreign ministry spokesman said, “We are supporting the family of a British woman who died on a flight to Frankfurt and are in contact with the local authorities.”
“I worked with Helen for a couple of years and she was a great midwife, very knowledgeable and well-liked by the patients,” said one person who commented on the Rhode’s family GoFundMe page. “She was kind, truthful, and a great mother of the kids and the family.”
The GoFundMe page has raised over £29,000 (approximately $35,5000) as of Wednesday, exceeding its goal of £20,000.
You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.