Page last updated at 14:04 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 15:04 UK

Transplant woman winched off ship


The helicopter flew to the ship 50 miles off the coast. Video: Royal Navy.

A woman has been flown from a cruise liner off the Cornish coast to receive a kidney transplant in Cambridge.

Judy Stockwell, who is in her 60s and has been on a transplant list for two years, was on board the Queen Victoria.

She received at call at 0200 BST saying there was a suitable kidney for her at Addenbrooke's Hospital if she could get there by 0900 BST, coastguards said.

A helicopter from RNAS Culdrose winched her from the ship and flew to Luton. She was then driven to Cambridge.

We were in the middle of the ocean and we reacted quickly
Judy Stockwell

The helicopter winched Mrs Stockwell and her husband, Tony, off the liner at about 0550 BST while it was about 50 miles (80km) south west of The Lizard.

They were winched up from the pool area at the back of the ship and flown to Luton Airport.

Mrs Stockwell was then driven to the hospital with a police escort to be prepared for surgery.

Commander Andy Drodge, from 771 Squadron at Culdrose, said that fog hampered the crew's original plan to take her straight to Cambridge.

He said: "After we refuelled at RAF Lyneham, unfortunately, just after Luton, the fog closed back in again and Cambridge was not going to be possible.

"We quickly went back to Luton, landed and she was picked up by an ambulance."

Mrs Stockwell said she contacted the ship's purser after she got a phone call from the hospital's transplant co-ordinator because "we were in the middle of the ocean and we reacted quickly".

She said: "We didn't know where we were, so we spoke to the purser to see if were near anywhere so we could get back."

Speaking after she reached the hospital, Mrs Stockwell added: "I was really desperate because this is going to change my life. I've been doing dialysis four a times day.

"I'm so grateful that someone has given me this opportunity."

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