TORONTO - The three-month-old baby at the centre of a heart transplant drama in Toronto has overcome her fatal prognosis, and her family is now hoping her journey home will be in a helicopter paid for by the media.
Kaylee Vitelli, who suffers from a rare brain condition called Joubert syndrome and was expected to die last month, is to be discharged from the Hospital for Sick Children on Thursday.
A family representative asked media outlets Wednesday to fund a medical grade, six-seat helicopter ride home for the infant in exchange for an exclusive story.
"Our ultimate goal was to reach out to our media friends and see if any of our media friends would be interested in picking up the cost of a chopper to fly the baby home," said spokesman J.P. Pampena.
"The family would allow that reporter to basically travel with them in the air and to land with them."
The little girl has bounced back and is ready to leave the hospital after being taken off life-support in early April, he said.
At that time, her parents publicly announced they were hoping her heart would be donated to another critically ill baby.
Pampena said a helicopter ride is preferred over the parents' initial plan - to drive the girl home themselves - due to her "extremely fragile" condition.
They live in Bradford, Ont., about 60 kilometres north of Toronto.
"It can only be assumed that that would be a faster, more safer way of transporting the baby, considering mom and dad are going to be the only ones in the vehicle if that's the choice that we have," Pampena said.
However, after word of his request was first reported, a private ambulance company offered to drive Kaylee home. Pampena said that will be the way she arrives should no other donor come forward.
He added it was his suggestion that Kaylee's parents, Jason Wallace and Crystal Vitelli, take a helicopter.
Pampena estimated the ride by car will take more than one hour, while a helicopter ride will last about 17 minutes.
His public relations firm will be contacting South Simcoe Police later Wednesday to request they block off both ends of the street where the family home is located so the chopper can land.
If more than one media outlet offers to fund the helicopter ride - which Pampena estimates will cost about $800 each way - "names will be dropped into a hat."
Upon arrival at the family home Thursday, Kaylee will be briefly introduced to the media, Pampena said.
He said the family is also willing to accept a donated ride by a helicopter company or anyone else, should media not come forward.