A mum of two died “in her sleep” as she flew back to the UK with her husband and children, a friend has said.
Helen Rhodes, who had not seen her parents and wider family since before the pandemic, was relocating after more than 15 years living in Hong Kong.
A few hours into the flight on Friday the midwife was “found unresponsive” and could not be resuscitated, her friend Jayne Jeje said on a GoFundMe page.
“This all unfolded in front of her children,” Ms Jeje wrote.
“For the remaining eight 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.”
The plane landed in Frankfurt, where Mrs Rhodes remains, while her husband Simon and young children Nathan and Emma travelled on to the UK.
Ms Jeje has set up a fundraiser to “help fund the transit of Helen’s body from Germany to UK” and to help pay for her funeral.
The money will also be used to help support the family.
Mrs Rhodes was “one of a kind” and the “pulse of her community” in Tung Chung, Hong Kong, Ms Jeje said.
“Helen loved to talk and made friends easily. 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.”
More than 200 women went to Mrs Rhodes first if they “had a question concerning anything medical-related”, Ms Jeje said.
“Helen always made herself available to help others. She was clever, witty and generous with her time.”
Replying to a post on Facebook, one person commented: “If anyone needed a helping hand Helen was always at the front of the queue. Terrible for her children to be there at her passing.”
The family’s loss is “unimaginable” and they are “devastated”, Ms Jeje wrote, adding that Mrs Rhodes was a “devoted wife and mother” and the “glue that held her family together”.
For the community, the “grief we feel is paralyzing”, Ms Jeje said.
“We can only hope she knew how much she meant to us.
“We feel lucky to have known her.”