According to a grieving friend, the mother-of-two returned to the UK to see her parents in her sleep on the flight with her husband and two children.
Helen Rhodes and her family were flying from Hong Kong to the UK on August 5 when she “died in her sleep”, friends said.
“We are still in disbelief and shocked at the sudden passing of our dearest friend, whose life touched so many in Hong Kong and the UK,” friend Jane JJ wrote. On the GoFundMe post.
“Helen was found unresponsive hours after the flight. Despite all efforts, Helen could not be revived.”
JJ added: “It all unfolded in front of her children. For the remaining 8 hours of the flight, Helen was in her seat in a breathless sleep.”
Her husband, Simon, and young children, Nathan and Emma, are “devastated” by the “unimaginable” loss, JJ wrote. The plane stopped in Germany where Rhodes’ body was left in Frankfurt while her family had to travel the rest of the journey without her.
“Even though it was traumatic for the family, they still had time to say what they wanted to say,” she said.
UK Foreign Office told the Guardian, “We are supporting the family of a British woman who died on a flight to Frankfurt and are in contact with local authorities.”
Rhodes had lived in Hong Kong for 15 years, but she and her family were looking to move back to the UK to “start a new chapter,” noted JJ. She was a midwife by profession who was described by JJ as the “pulse” and “one of a kind” of her local community in Hong Kong.
“Helen was excited and nervous about the move, but she was eager to return home to her family, as she had not seen her family or elderly parents since the epidemic began,” JJ wrote. “Unfortunately, she never got to see them again.”
The fundraising page raised more than $21,000 as of Monday and will go toward funeral expenses and additional support for her family.