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Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program Helps Save Lives With $10 Million In Free Travel Donated Since Inception

DALLAS, Aug. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --  Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) today invites nonprofit hospitals and medical transportation organizations to apply for the airline's 2014 Medical Transportation Grant Program. The program is designed to ease the financial burden on families confronting serious medical problems that require travel for treatment. Southwest donates roundtrip airline tickets to nonprofit hospitals and medical organizations in the program, and empowers the organization to distribute the tickets to patients as they see best based on the individuals' needs. In 2013 alone, Southwest donated more than $2.8 million in complimentary airfare through the program. Hospitals and medical transportation charities can apply online for a grant in Southwest's 2014 Medical Transportation Grant Program by visiting now through Monday, Sept. 30, 2013.

"At Southwest, we connect people to what's important in their lives. Our Medical Transportation Grant Program is no different; it helps us connect patients to the treatment they need," said Linda Rutherford, Southwest Airlines' Vice President Communication and Outreach. "The program is one of many ways we give from the heart to positively impact our communities. From lessening the financial burden on families needing to travel for treatment to partnering with medical organizations, we are proud of the many ways this program has made a difference in the communities we serve."

The Medical Transportation Grant Program began as a response to a need that was repeatedly expressed to the airline—families facing serious illnesses needed to travel for treatment. When the Medical Transportation Grant Program launched in 2008, Southwest donated 1,700 tickets to 13 hospitals and organizations. What started as a small effort to make a difference has grown into a nationwide movement, benefiting thousands of individuals and hundreds of communities. Southwest has donated more than $10 million in free airfare since the program began in 2008. In 2013 alone, Southwest's Medical Transportation Gran Program served patients seeking medical treatment at more than 90 hospitals and organizations nationwide. One of the organizations accepted into Southwest's 2013 Medical Transportation Grant Program is internationally recognized The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

"Southwest Airlines' Medical Transportation Grant Program has allowed us the opportunity to offer a solution to patients who otherwise might not have been able to afford to travel for the treatment they need," said Thomas Burke, M.D., executive vice president and physician-in-chief at MD Anderson. "Through this program, we can give hope to patients facing life-threatening illnesses, and that feeling is contagious throughout our hospital and our community."

More than 27,000 patients' lives have been positively impacted through this unique program.  One such patient, Michael Wilson from Carthage, Michigan, needed to travel frequently to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis following complications with his lung transplant. Unable to afford air travel, Southwest's Medical Transportation Grant Program connected him to life-saving treatment.

"I knew I couldn't afford frequent travel to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis to get the treatment I needed," said Wilson. "I can't begin to explain how grateful my family and I are for Southwest's Medical Transportation Grant Program—everything is better."

Southwest is honored to stories like Michael Wilson's and so many others who have benefitted from the Medical Transportation Grant Program on the NUTS About Southwest blog.

Each participating hospital and nonprofit has unique guidelines for the administration of tickets. To learn about qualifications for travel assistance, please contact the specific hospital or nonprofit organization.

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