British midwife dies 'in her sleep' on plane as she returns to UK from Hong Kong with her children

Helen Rhodes pictured with her husband and two children.
Helen Rhodes 'passed away in her sleep' during a flight from Hong Kong to the UK with her family by her side. Credit: GoFundMe

A fundraising appeal has been launched to help the family of a British midwife who "passed away in her sleep" during a flight home to the UK with her children.

Helen Rhodes was travelling from Hong Kong with her family on Friday, 5 August, when she "was found unresponsive a few hours into the flight".

Attempts were made to resuscitate Ms Rhodes were unsuccessful and for the remaining eight hours of the flight she "lay in a breathless sleep in her seat," according to a tribute.

Mrs Rhodes, who was described as a "devoted mother" by a family friend, fell into unconsciousness in front of her son and daughter on the flight.

They were said to have remained with her body until the plane landed in Frankfurt, Germany.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...

Ms Rhodes' husband and children then continued their journey on to the UK, while her body stayed in Germany, where she remains while plans to repatriate her are underway.

Ms Rhodes had been returning home to the UK to begin a "new chapter," after living in Hong Kong for 15 years. 

A GoFundMe appeal has since been set up by family friend Jayne Jeje to "honour our dear friend Helen, who we will never forget".

The page had raised more than £15,000 by Monday evening, with an overall target of £20,000.

"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," wrote Ms Jeje.

"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, in Hong Kong. She couldn’t walk a few feet and not run into someone she knew by name."

She 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 honour 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."

Ms Jeje outlined that the purposes of the fundraising page were to help cover any unexpected costs of Ms Rhodes' funeral and repatriation, and to fund support for her children and husband.

It's also hoped the donations can be used to create a "legacy" in honour of Ms Rhodes.

All proceeds from the page will go directly to Ms Rhodes' family.