Published July 2020
Undoubtedly, one of the most important tasks of the Solidary Plane is the transport of stem cells throughout the world. Imagine how challenging this mission is, especially in times of coronavirus.
During this period, the Solidary Plane program has provided patients in Chile and Argentina with a second life opportunity through LATAM Cargo, and the aircraft’s pilots have been in charge of guarding the stem cells. Their collaboration allowed the Solidary Plane to transport stem cells from Frankfurt to Santiago, and also from São Paulo to Buenos Aires.
“The Solidary Plane transported stem cells from Europe to South America for patients who urgently needed a second life opportunity. Due to the speed of air transport, no other alternative would have been as effective as this one, since the patients could have their stem cells in just 24 hours,” said María Teresa Escobar, Head of Corporate Affairs at LATAM Cargo.
Even before the pandemic, stem cell transport was carried out on passenger flights and traveled with a guardian in charge of them. However, since the borders are closed as a result of COVID-19, it has not been possible any longer. “Despite the difficulties, we are and will continue being an air bridge. We are maintaining our commitment, and since LATAM Cargo has continued its operations during the pandemic, we have managed to make our contribution through the cargo transport unit,” said María Teresa said, recalling the first stem cell transport.
“That flight was for Javiera, a 9-year-old Chilean girl who had leukemia. Thanks to the huge will of the teams that prepared the logistics, and to the pilots who generously agreed to be the cells’ guardians, we could carry it out successfully,” explained María Teresa. Finding a genetic twin is not easy. “The problem is that they can be located anywhere in the world. In Javiera’s case, it was far away. It was in Germany, but as a human group, we were not going to miss that opportunity. I remember that the day of the transport was very symbolic because our Solidary Plane took off loaded with hope and good wishes from the entire LATAM Group team.”
So far, 8 flights transporting stem cells have been made: 6 for patients from Chile on the Frankfurt-Santiago route, one from Brazil to Argentina, and another one from Santiago to Europe.
“Our Solidary Plane flies for all those who suffer from illnesses and need support to recover. It has been flying for 9 years and will continue doing it once the pandemic is over. This is our commitment,” remarks María Teresa.