FACT CHECK: Did Donald Trump’s private jet carry a critically ill 3-year-old Jewish boy from California to New York for medical treatment?
Claim: Donald Trump’s jet private carried a critically ill 3-year-old Jewish boy from California to New York for medical treatment.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, August 2015]
Airlines Refuse to Fly Critically Ill 3-Year-Old to Doctors … So Parents Call Trump
An incredible story involving Donald Trump has just come to light, and virtually no one knows about it because, unlike what almost any politician would do, the billionaire hasn’t used it to boost his public image.
Years ago, now Presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s private 727 took off from Los Angeles and landed in New York City, much as it had for years. But this time one thing was different.
While Trump wasn’t on board, three other passengers were — 3-year-old Andrew Ten and his parents. What led to this trip is a story that’s both heartbreaking and heartwarming.
Origins: In mid-August 2015, a number of web sites reproduced a story about business magnate (and 2016 Republican presidential hopeful) Donald Trump’s having responded to the pleas of the parents of a critically ill 3-year-old Jewish boy, using his private jet to ferry the child from Los Angeles to New York for medical treatment after commercial airlines declined to carry the boy.
The story was factual, although many sites that reproduced versions of it in August 2015 did not provide the timeline behind it, leaving readers with the impression that it related a recent occurrence. However, those accounts all described an event that took place 27 years earlier and were all based on an archived article published by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency [PDF] back on 20 July 1988:
Orthodox Child with Rare Ailment is Rescued Aboard Tycoon’s Jet
The private Boeing 727 of real estate tycoon Donald Trump arrived from Los Angeles at LaGuardia Airport, carrying aboard an Orthodox Jewish child with a rare and still undiagnosed breathing illness.
The child, Andrew Ten, age 3, arrived with his parents — accompanied by three nurses who attend to him around the clock — to try to seek medical help in the New York area.
Trump made his plane available for the special trip to New York after the boy’s parents, Judy and Harold Ten, called Trump and told him of their plight.
Commercial airlines refused to fly the child because he could not travel without an elaborate life-support system, which includes a portable oxygen tank, a suction machine, a breathing bag and an adrenaline syringe.
“Mr. Trump did not hesitate when we called him up. He said ‘yes, I’ll send my plane out,'” 29-year-old Harold Ten recalled shortly after he landed here.
Asked why he thought Trump made his private jet available, Ten replied, “Because he is a good man. He has three children of his own and he knows what being a parent is all about.”
Ten said he believes that Trump fulfilled the Talmudic saying that “he who saves one person’s life is as if he saved the entire world.”
Among the relatives at the airport to greet the child and his parents were the paternal grandparents of the sick boy.
“Donald Trump is a miracle, just a miracle,” said grandmother Feigy Ten, who came to the airport with her husband, Phillip Ten.
Both grandparents thanked Trump’s generosity over and over again.
Andrew, who is called by his Hebrew name, Avraham Moshe, was taken from the airport to the Schneider Children’s Hospital of Long Island Jewish Medical Center for treatment and evaluation.
Andrew was healthy at birth, but one morning when he was 10 months old he suddenly stopped breathing. The second incident occurred six months later. Doctors had no explanation and to date have not determined what is causing him to stop breathing.
Andrew has not cried in the last two-and-a-half years. He now eats with a feeding tube since he lost his gag reflex and the ability to swallow. He is monitored around the clock by nurses, and sleeps with an apnea alarm.
Harold Ten said he and his family “are determined to do anything possible to save Andrew. We believe in God and we have hope,” he said.
It isn’t quite true, though, to say that Trump “hasn’t used the story to boost his public image.” Although (as far as we know) Trump himself hasn’t yet brought it up during the 2016 presidential campaign cycle, he touted it as one of his accomplishments in his 2000 book The America We Deserve, which he put out as he was flirting with seeking the presidential nomination of the Reform Party:
Another case that was a perfect fit [for my organizational talents] was Andrew Ten, who lived in California. He needed desperately to come to the East Coast because a very rare and very dangerous medical condition threatened his life. His parents felt that they had exhausted the medical options in the West and wanted this brave three-year-old to have the best shot possible at overcoming his challenge. They wanted him to be seen by doctors at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
The problem was that the commercial airlines refused to fly the child. He couldn’t leave his home without a portable oxygen tank, a suction machine, a device to help him breathe, and other medical gear. Like all good parents, Andrew’s searched high and low for a solution. Eventually they called me. Though I had never heard of this family, my heart immediately went out to them. And when it was time, so did my Boeing 737, with three nurses on board.
This is also a story Donald Trump might now want to distance himself from because in 2014 the sick boy’s father, Harold Ten, was charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of taking part in a scheme that “allowed a ring of brokers, investment advisers and their clients to profit from the deaths of terminally ill patients”:
Since the 1990s, Rabbi Harold Ten has been helping gravely ill Jews and their families navigate the health care system. Ten is the president of Bikur Cholim, a nonprofit that can get patients kosher meals in their hospital rooms or provide them with free loans of medical equipment. He’s known for calling local rabbis each week to find out which of their congregants are sick and then organizing volunteers to visit those individuals.
But in 2007, Ten, who also goes by Heshy or Hershy, is alleged to have also been using his knowledge of the healthcare system to enrich himself in a highly unusual way. According to charges released by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on March 13, Ten played a key role in an alleged scheme that allowed a ring of brokers, investment advisers and their clients to profit from the deaths of terminally ill patients.
The process involved the purchase of variable annuities, an investment vehicle typically made on a long-term basis and used by investors to provide them with income after retirement, and to provide their heirs with a death benefit. In the alleged scheme that the SEC says was orchestrated by Los Angeles-based broker Michael A. Horowitz, however, Horowitz’s investor clients purchased annuities that named terminally ill patients as the annuitants — allowing the investors to collect the death benefit payout very quickly and reap large profits at the expense of the insurance company that issued the annuities. Horowitz himself allegedly earned more than $300,000 in commissions on the sales of the annuities.
Ten, as described in detail in a July 31 SEC report, assisted Horowitz in identifying, meeting with and obtaining personal information from terminally ill Jews, with whom he likely came into contact through his role at Bikur Cholim.
Last updated: 15 August 2015
Originally published: 15 August 2015
Allen, Cooper. “Donald Trump and White House Bids.” USA Today. 15 June 2015.
Lowenfeld, Jonah. “SEC Charges L.A. Jewish Leaders in Alleged Variable Annuities Scheme.” Jewish Journal. 18 March 2014.
Rabi, Yitzhak. “Orthodox Child with Rare Ailment is Rescued Aboard Tycoon’s Jet.” Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 20 July 1988.
Sichel, Jared. “L.A. Bikur Cholim Head’s Role Revealed in Annuities Scheme.” Jewish Journal. 24 September 2014.
Trump, Donald. The America We Deserve. Riverside, CA: Renaissance Books, 2000. ISBN 1-580-63131-2.
Associated Press. “Buchanan, Trump Edge Closer to Showdown.” Los Angeles Times. 25 October 1999.