A woman has died in front of her two children and husband after becoming unresponsive on a flight from Hong Kong to the UK.
Helen Rhodes, who was flying back to the UK with her family after more than 15 years abroad, was found unresponsive hours into the flight on 5 August, her friend Jayne Jeje wrote in a Go Fund Me which has since raised more than £13,000.
“For the remaining 8 hours of the flight, Helen lay in a breathless sleep in her seat. Although this was extremely traumatising to the family, they all had time to say what they needed to say to her,” wrote Jeje, who described Helen as one of a kind, and the pulse of her community in Tung Chung, Hong Kong.
“This loss is unimaginable. Helen was a devoted wife and mother. She was the glue that held her family together.”
Upon landing in Germany, Helen’s body remained in Frankfurt as her husband, Simon, and two children, Nathan and Emma, flew to the UK. Helen’s return to the UK and seeing family would have been the first since the coronavirus pandemic began.
“Sadly, she never got to see them again,” wrote Jeje.
Helen, a midwife, also ran her own business crafting bespoke accessories, Jeje wrote, and said she belonged to a tight-knit group, Tung Chung Mums, where more than 200 women turned to Helen for medical advice.
“Helen always made herself available to help others. She was clever, witty and generous with her time,” wrote Jeje. “We can only hope she knew how much she meant to us.”
Money raised will be put toward funeral expenses and support for the family. On the fundraising page, Ken Chu wrote: “I’m one of the crew of the flight, I wish the best for you and your kids.”
On Facebook, a resident of Tung Chung described Helen as “the most caring, generous and thoughtful person”, despite only knowing her from the “school gates”.
“Live life to the fullest folks, and hugs the ones you love,” wrote Andrew Spires. In one response, a person wrote: “If anyone needed a helping hand Helen was always at the front of the queue.” Another said: “I worked with Helen in the UK. So sad to hear this news.”
A Foreign Office spokesperson 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.”