Toni calls for support

RFDS patient calls for support this Christmas

Date published

29 Nov 2022

A Perth mother-of-two who suffered a life-threatening emergency while on holiday in the South West is encouraging Western Australians to support the Royal Flying Doctor Service (WA) this Christmas.


Mindarie resident Toni Lea was out fishing on a charter boat off Augusta with her husband in October last year when she suffered a sudden brain bleed.

“We were bringing in some fish when suddenly my head just went bang!” Toni said.

Back on dry land, Toni lost all control of her body and was unable to see or speak.

An urgent overnight rescue operation involving Augusta Hospital, St John WA, Busselton Hospital, RFDS and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital medical teams saved Toni’s life.

As Toni continues to recover, she has expressed her gratitude to the RFDS for transporting her from Busselton to Perth in a 40 minute flight that would have taken more than 2.5 hours by road, with potentially life-changing impacts for her survival and recovery.

“You don’t truly understand the relief and how important the RFDS is until you need it. We are so lucky to live in Western Australia and have such a vital service available to us,” Toni said.

“Last year Christmas was difficult for my family and me, and we are all incredibly grateful I’m still alive to celebrate Christmas this year.

“This experience has taught me that life is precious.”

Christmas RFDS

This Christmas, the RFDS is appealing to Western Australians to help raise $280,000 to purchase essential medical equipment and supplies.

RFDS WA Chief Executive Officer Judith Barker said the Christmas and New Year period is one of the busiest times of the year for the service. 

“With your support during our Christmas Appeal, the RFDS will continue to provide 24-hour care to anyone who needs us, wherever they are in Western Australia,” Ms Barker said.

“From boating accidents to heart attacks, our flight crews have the skills, passion and equipment needed to provide patients all over regional WA with the best possible care.”  

Last year 196 patients depended on the Flying Doctor for urgent retrieval between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day - about 22 people each day. 

The most common reasons for retrieval by the RFDS were related to motor vehicle accidents, bone fractures and snake bites.