A Carnival Cruise Line ship was 350 miles off the coast of North Carolina when the Air Force was called into action to help a 12-year-old boy.

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Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force / 920th Rescue Wing (Courtesy of Staff Sgt. John Smith)

The boy was on Carnival Venezia with his family as the ship was heading back to New York City from a Caribbean cruise.

The Massachusetts mother of the boy spoke with ABC News in an exclusive interview, recounting the incredible Air Force rescue and the intensity of the situation.

After a visit to the ship’s medical facilities, it was determined that 12-year-old Aiden had a perforated bowel and needed immediate care the ship could not provide.

“The next thing that we need to do immediately is get him off the ship,” Bridges said the medical team on the ship explained to her.

In what is being described as a complicated operation, a rescue that required three air-to-air refuelings was carried out by the 920th Rescue Wing of the Air Force.

A pair of HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, two HC-130J Combat King II aircraft, and an additional pair teams of combat rescue officers and pararescuemen flew hundreds of miles to carry out the operation.

Recalling the sound of the helicopter as the rescue was taking place Bridges said,

We were standing there watching the whole time, and I, just, you know, screaming and crying over the helicopter blades.  It was very scary.

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force / 920th Rescue Wing (Courtesy of Staff Sgt. John Smith)

Other cruise passengers on board cheered as the boy was lifted into the helicopter.

After that the whole ship like cheered and was screaming and yelling ‘yay’,” passenger Katie Reed told interviewers. “It was really cool to witness and see like you know that this kid got a better chance at life because of like that team was phenomenal.”

The 12-year-old boy is currently undergoing treatment at a hospital in North Carolina.

A statement to ABC News from Carnival Cruise Line praised the efforts of the U.S. Air Force.

Carnival Venezia’s team worked with United States Coast Guard and Air Force officials to adjust its course Saturday so a medical helicopter could rendezvous with the ship when a guest on board needed treatment ashore. The ship then resumed its route to New York, arriving as scheduled Monday morning,” the statement read.

The Air Force aircraft flew over 1,200 miles round trip, in a rescue that took 8 hours to carry out.

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force / 920th Rescue Wing (Courtesy of Staff Sgt. John Smith)

This is what ready now looks like. These real-world missions are what our countless hours of training have prepared us for. Rescue was able to plan and execute this mission without hesitation. This combined arms team is highly trained in their field while understanding what role they play in the bigger picture and led to the successful completion of the mission,” said Lt. Col. John Lowe, 920th Operations Group commander.

Aiden’s mother conveyed her gratitude for everyone involved in the operation to rescue her son.

I feel so much gratitude, gratefulness toward all the people who have been integral to my son’s recovery.  It’s not just the Coast Guard or the Air Force, or the doctors or the nurses. It’s all of those people,” Bridges said.

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Darius Sostre-Miroir

This story also highlights the importance of cruise travel insurance.  A medevac from a cruise ship can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $150,000 depending on the region and complexity of the operation.

Most experts recommend having a minimum of $100,000 coverage for medical evacuation coverage. 

Having peace of mind that you can focus on the well being of a family member instead of a financial burden is one of the biggest reasons cruise travelers make sure they have some kind of coverage.

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