A Dutch retired paramedic has revealed how he’s fulfilled the dying wishes of more than 14 000 terminally ill patients – after buying a fleet of ambulances and using them to transport dying people on one last trip, the Daily Mail reports.
Kees Veldboer (60) came up with the touching idea when he had to transfer a terminally ill patient to another hospital. The patient’s tripped was then delayed and that’s when Kees asked the patient where he’d want to go.
The man wanted to see the Rotterdam Harbour one last time – so Kees took him and even arranged for the man to go sailing even though he was on a stretcher.
A year later, Kees founded the Stichting Ambulance Wens (“ambulance wish foundation”) and with the help of his wife, Ineke (61), he’s turned it into his full-time job. He’s managed to buy his own fleet of ambulances.
Kees has helped more than 10 000 people live out their final wishes – and has taken them everywhere from art exhibitions to watching their favourite soccer team one last time.
He even took one terminally ill teen from the Netherlands to Switzerland to see the mountains he’d always dreamt of seeing.
“Every day we help six terminally ill people,” Kees said.
“It’s so nice to see them happy. For us it’s something easy to do but for them it’s something so special.
“We’ve driven people for miles, even to other countries, and taken them to some really amazing places.
“But for me the most beautiful thing I think we’ve done for a woman who was in a hospital for months and after being given a terminal diagnosis, she was taken into hospice.
“All she wanted was to see her home one last time. We took her there and she was just standing there for an hour, looking around.
“Two days later she died. It was such a beautiful wish, so simple yet so meaningful to her.”
Kees revealed that another popular wish is for patients to see their favourite piece of art one last time. This has seen him take many trips to museums.
The most recent one was to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, where a patient was able to see the Rembrandt exhibition.
Kees also arranged for two football fans to watch their beloved Ajax play one more time.
A terminally ill grandmother was also able to meet her newborn grandchild while another grandmother attended her grandson’s wedding.
Kees reveals that Stichting Ambulance Wens offers something the patient’s relatives can’t do themselves – in most cases patients are immobile and bound to a stretcher so they can’t be transported by car.
In addition, terminally ill patients need 24-hour medical care, so the organisation consists of 270 volunteers who are all medically trained in case of an emergency.
“It’s not only about helping the patient. We also help their families and friends create beautiful memories,” Kees said.
“We know we can’t make them better, but we give them so much joy in their last days and it’s special.”