WAKING in excruciating pain at 3am while cruising off the east coast of Australia was the last thing on a Bundaberg grandmother's mind.
In 2014 Deanna and Kevin Barnett (pictured) set off to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in style on the cruise ship the Sea Princess.
With only a day to go Mrs Barnett became terribly ill with what doctors suspected could have been cancer.
An emergency medical helicopter was called to make a sea rescue.
Mrs Barnett said the illness slowly crept up on her until she became so unwell she couldn't move.
"I can't describe it. The pain was so bad I couldn't move," Mrs Barnett said.
"Once the captain realised there would be a medical emergency he turned the ship towards the shore."
Luckily the 69-year-old said she wasn't afraid of flying, and she realised she was in the best hands as they winched her up to the helicopter.
"I have been on four helicopters now and wasn't scared," Mrs Barnett said.
"There was nothing I could do so I wasn't worried at all."
Mr Barnett said the helicopter sent down a tiny parcel that transformed into a stretcher to take his wife away.
After arriving on land, Mrs Barnett was transferred to a Gold Coast hospital where she stayed for the next two weeks.
She was diagnosed with a perforated bowel and told she was lucky to receive the medical treatment when she did.
The couple said even after the experience nothing would stop them from being adventurous, and they had just returned from another cruise.
"The staff on the boat really looked after me until I was airlifted off."
"It's like falling off a horse or bike - you have to just get straight back on."
The couple said they wanted to thank everyone involved in the rescue and advised everyone to make sure they had medical and travel insurance.
"An emergency can happen at any time and without insurance it would have cost us about $45,000," Mrs Barnett said.
"The doctors said to us not to bother buying a lotto ticket in the future because we have now used up all our luck," Mr Barnett said.
Mrs Barnett's story will feature in the season finale of Air Rescue on January 14 at 7pm on Channel 7.
Air Rescue is an observational documentary capturing the dramatic rescues performed by the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service which this year celebrates over 42 years of partnership with Westpac.
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