Terminally Ill Teen With Down's Syndrome Achieves Dream Of Becoming Flight Attendant

A terminally ill teenager with Down's syndrome is walking on air, having achieved her dream of working as a flight attendant.

Shantell Pooser, or Shannie, was born with many health problems, including a heart defect and numerous terminal airway defects.

The 17-year-old has spent years travelling between her home in Denmark, South Carolina, and Cincinnati Children's Hospital in Ohio, where she has undergone several major surgeries.

During these flights, Shannie befriended lots of crew members and began wishing she could join the team.

Her mum, Deanna Miller-Berry, told CBS News: "We became friends with a lot of the flight attendants and a lot of pilots, and she just kept saying, 'Mommy, I want to be a flight attendant.'"

Shannie became friends with the crew during her frequent flights to the children's hospital. Credit: Deanna Miller Berry
Shannie became friends with the crew during her frequent flights to the children's hospital. Credit: Deanna Miller Berry

In 2016, Shannie needed a life-saving operation, and surgeons warned that in a best case scenario she would come out of it in an extremely fragile state. But Shannie's recovery was quite remarkable, and from that point on, Deanna vowed to make pursuing her daughter's dreams her number one priority.

She said: "She came out singing 'Let It Go' from Frozen.

"The surgeons were standing around like, 'We've never had anybody come out of this type of surgery talking ... this girl is singing 'Let It Go' in ICU.'

"I made a vow to God. I said, 'Shannie, no matter what you want to do when you get better, we'll make a bucket list and I'll make it happen. If you live long enough where the doctors can fix you 100 percent, I'll do my best to make your dreams come true.'"

Deanna knew it was unrealistic for Shannie to become a flight attendant, but she wrote a letter to a friend at American Airlines, asking if they could possibly send her some memorabilia. However, the airline did what airlines do best, and went above and beyond.

American Airlines helped Shannie's dreams of being a flight attendant come true. Credit: Deanna Miller Berry
American Airlines helped Shannie's dreams of being a flight attendant come true. Credit: Deanna Miller Berry

A pilot got in touch with Deanna and told her they had arranged for Shannie to celebrate her 17th birthday in October aboard a Boeing jet.

The entirety of first class was filled with friends, family and even a few local celebrities for the party. Better still, the crew presented Shannie with an official uniform and badge, which she now wears whenever she flies between her home and the children's hospital.

But the outfit is not just for show - Shannie gets involved with the team effort, helping the crew to demonstrate safety procedures.

Sadly, growths removed during her surgery in 2016 have since returned and Shannie is scheduled to undergo surgery next week. But Deanna is holding out hope that her daughter will keep her spirits up and go on to become an official American Airlines employee when she turns 18.

In the meantime, she's got more dreams to chase for her daughter; namely arranging a meet with the Obamas, an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and a hot air balloon ride to her prom.

Here's hoping Shannie and her mum keep ticking away at that bucket list.

Featured Image Credit: Deanna Miller Berry

Jake Massey

Jake Massey is a journalist at LADbible. He graduated from Newcastle University before going to live in Australia and New Zealand for a few years, where he wrote a travel blog. He has previously written for the Eastern Daily Press, Giggle Beats, CALM and Front Magazine. Jake enjoys playing football, listening to music and writing about himself in the third person.

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