A Florida mother and her 11-month-old daughter want to encourage people to pay it forward after a kind act by a passenger on their flight.
Kelsey Rae Zwick and her daughter, Lucy, boarded American Airlines Flight 588 from Orlando to Philadelphia on Thursday, where Lucy receives treatment for chronic lung disease at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“Lucy is the happiest baby. She doesn’t cry, but she’s yelling and yakking away. I’m already like, ‘I used to fly for work a lot — oh man, I’m that person. Hopefully, she’s good,”” she told Yahoo Lifestyle.
But it was the kindness of a stranger in first class that changed Zwick’s day. A flight attendant came over and told her that a man sitting in seat 2D wanted to switch places with her.
“We pre-boarded, so I didn’t see him,” Zwick said. “At first, it just kind of took a second because I was like, why do I need to switch seats? Then I realized what was happening, and I was so overwhelmed. It wasn’t just the seat; it was the culmination of everything we’ve been through the past two years,” says Zwick.
The past two years have been quite a journey for Zwick, her husband, and their twin daughters Lucy and Eva. The girls were born at 29 weeks, and Eva weighed just 2 pounds, 5 ounces at birth, while Lucy was 2 pounds, 14 ounces.
“When Lucy came out, she was blue and she wasn’t breathing,” says Zwick. “We almost lost her on the second day. We never knew if I’d get to take her home.”
Lucy had to be intubated, and the ventilation kept her alive that first week. But because intubation is so hard on the lungs, it left severe scarring that caused the chronic lung disease, which Lucy receives treatment for every three months.
”Eva spent 86 days in the NICU, and Lucy spent 100. They have chronic lung disease, and Lucy’s is considered severe. Her and her sister came home on oxygen 100 percent, so we had two alarms, two oxygen tanks; 50-foot cords everywhere,” Zwick said. “They came home in April. Eva came off [oxygen] shortly after, and Lucy, because she was so sick, had other complications. Because her lungs were so bad, everything was harder for her. She was on oxygen and not really improving.”
It wasn’t until Lucy began treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia that things really turned around.
“They have a whole program for this,” says Zwick. “The first time we went in September, she was still [on] 100 percent on oxygen; all day, all night. They checked her out, and within two weeks after seeing them, she came off a couple hours a day. Three months after seeing them, she’s off during the day completely. She’s on at night or if she flies, because of the pressure.”
Their new seat up allowed extra room for Zwick and Lucy, who has to travel with a large oxygen tank. And according to Zwick, Lucy loved her introduction to first class.
“We did have extra room. Lucy enjoyed the cheese plate and the little luxuries,” Zwick added, laughing. “Flying first class before her first birthday!”
After the flight landed, Zwick tried to catch the good Samaritan at the gate, to no avail. It was only after she posted the story on Facebook that someone reached out to man in 2D, and Zwick was put in touch with him.
“I guess it was his birthday, and he did reach out to us,” said Zwick. “He was thanking me for a birthday to remember. It was the best day. He said it made him and his wife cry, and he said, ‘I am so glad we were on the same flight.’”
It’s that generosity that truly overwhelmed Zwick, especially after the struggle of the last few years.
“Just trying to get pregnant, and it was just — you’re always doing stuff for your girls, of course; but I see you, I notice you, I can do this for you — let me do something kind for you,” Zwick said of the man’s act of kindness. “He’s thanking me for something that I’m thanking him for! There’s always good people in the world, and that’s why I felt compelled to share.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle: