Man Aspires to Be Pilot After He's Airlifted to Hospital From Remote Area When He Was a Kid

Thayne Yazzi, 25, remembers growing up without running water or electricity at a Navajo reservation: "There's not a lot of [medical] service out there."

Thayne Yazzi, 25, knew he wanted to be a pilot ever since he was a little boy growing up in a Navajo reservation in Arizona.

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Yazzi told even though he grew up without running water or electricity, he thinks fondly of his time spent on the reservation in St. Michaels.

"As a kid, all I remember is playing," Yazzi said. "We'd just run around the woods. Just kinda do the goofiest things we could imagine out there. Build forts out of sage brush and rocks."

One day, Yazzi said he was with his friends when he fell out of a tree and hit his head on a rock. He fell in and out of consciousness, and lost his vision.

"My cousins carried me to my house," he said. "[My parents] ended up driving me to a local hospital about eight miles away — it was a pretty good drive."

Doctors there quickly realized they couldn't give Yazzi the care he needed, and rushed him to the airport, where he could be airlifted to a larger hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

"Being in the airplane, I was like, 'Okay, they're taking me somewhere where I'm going to be okay. Just feeling like, 'Okay, things are going to work out,'" he said. "My mom was in the airplane with me. I still remember them asking if I could see."

The following day, Yazzi said he remembers waking up, totally healthy and healed. He was even treated to an ice cream, and a visit to the dinosaur museum.

Inspired by the traumatic experience, the Western Washington University graduate decided he wanted to return to his hometown to pursue flight school and eventually get his medical evacuation certificate.

"The Navajo reservation is still suffering from a lot of medical transportation [problems] and just medical help in general. There's not a lot of service out there," he said. "That's my mission now, to be able to give that service."

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Yazzi said he still has several years of airplane and helicopter training ahead of him, and each lesson can range from $100 to $400.

To support his goals, he has since started a GoFundMe campaign, and was even awarded $10,000 by the organization to go toward his education.

In exchange for donations, Yazzi sends a piece of custom artwork, depicting Navajo folklore or scenes from his childhood to each person who contributes.

He now hopes to be able to attend lessons at the Eastern New Mexico University flight school twice a week, and work his way through the ranks, eventually being able to instruct others from his community to get their MedEvac certifications, too.

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