Helen Rhodes: Mother dies on flight in front of husband and children who sat with her body for 8 hrs

Helen Rhodes: Mother dies on flight in front of husband and children who sat with her body for 8 hrs
Helen Rhodes (R) was on her way home to the UK from Hong Kong with her husband Simon (L) and their two kids Nathan and Emma on August 5 (GoFundMe)

LONDON, UK: A "one of a kind" mother tragically died on a plane in front of her children and husband.

Helen Rhodes was on her way home to the UK with her husband Simon and their two children, Nathan and Emma, on August 5 after spending more than 15 years in Tung Chung, Hong Kong. Rhodes was found unresponsive a few hours into the flight and could not be resuscitated after she apparently died in her sleep. The mother, who was a midwife by profession, "lay in a breathless sleep" in her seat for the remaining eight hours of the flight until the plane landed in Frankfurt. Rhodes's body remained in Germany while her devastated family proceeded to the UK without her.


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A family friend wrote of the "extremely traumatizing" tragedy that unfolded right in front of the kids. However, they were grateful they had time to "say what they needed to say to her." Jayne Jeje set up a GoFundMe campaign to help the embattled family with expenses and to "honor our dear friend Helen." At the time of publication, it had raised more than £11,000 ($13,000) of its £20,000 ($24,000) goal. "Helen and her family wrapped up a life in Hong Kong of over 15 years to embark on a new chapter living back home in the UK," Jeje wrote on the fundraising website. "Helen was excited and nervous about the move, but looked forward to seeing her family back home, as she had not seen her family or aging parents since the pandemic began. Sadly, she never got to see them again."

She continued, "We are still in disbelief and shock about the sudden passing of our dearest friend Helen Rhodes, whose life has touched many people in Hong Kong and the UK. Helen was one of a kind, a gem. She was a midwife by profession, and was always willing to lend a helping hand or advice to anyone who needed it. Helen loved to talk and made friends easily. She was the pulse of her community in Tung Chung, Hong Kong. She couldn’t walk a few feet and not run into someone she knew by name. She was an early member of a tight-knit diverse group, called Tung Chung Mums. Over 200 women first looked to her if they had a question concerning anything medical-related. Helen always made herself available to help others. She was clever, witty, and generous with her time."

Jeje added, "Helen was sharp and creative. She ran her own business making amazing bespoke bows and accessories. Helen took pride in everything she did, and her bows were exquisite. This fundraiser is to honor this lovely woman who was loved by so many, a dear friend who touched so many people. We can only hope she knew how much she meant to us and how her void can never be filled. How this loss is so painful and surreal. The grief we feel is paralyzing. Yet, we feel lucky to have known her."

Describing what happened, the grieving friend wrote, "On August 5, 2022. Helen passed away in her sleep on her flight from HK to the UK. Helen was found unresponsive a few hours into the flight. Despite all efforts, Helen was not able to be resuscitated. This all unfolded in front of her children. For the remaining 8 hours of the flight, Helen lay in a breathless sleep in her seat. Although this was extremely traumatizing to the family, they all had time to say what they needed to say to her." Jeje added, "Needless to mention, they are devastated. This loss is unimaginable. Helen was a devoted wife and mother. She was the glue that held her family together. After landing in Germany and the protocol that followed, Helen remained in Frankfurt while her husband (Simon) and two young children (Nathan and Emma) had to go on to the UK without her."


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Rhodes also received a tribute from Andrew Spires, the admin of Tung Chung Tower Communities' Facebook page. "Sadly Tung Chung's very own Helen Rhodes passed away on a flight back to the UK. She was with her husband Simon, and two kids," he wrote. "I knew Helen only on a 'school gates' level but she was the most caring, generous, and thoughtful person; also the most chatty! Tung Chung and school pick-up won't be the same without you. Wishing all the best to her family going forward - I hope they eventually find some peace. Live life to the fullest folks, and hug the ones you love."

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