By Pamela Brownstein
It was 4 in the morning and raining off the coast of Alaska. Sarah Pinckney Davis twirled in the air as she was lifted toward the Coast Guard helicopter hovering above the Princess Diamond cruise ship below.
This was not how the native Beaufortonian expected to be spending her anniversary cruise when she booked the two-week trip a year ago.
After arriving in Vancouver and setting sail on a Saturday, Sarah — along with her husband, Laurance, and her daughter Kathy Bundy and her husband, and a group of about 20 family and friends from Beaufort — was excited to see Alaska again and celebrate her 64th wedding anniversary.
On Monday, she walked around the town of Ketchikan, Alaska. And her daughter said she seemed fine at dinner too, but that night she started having excruciating leg pains.
Kathy said she went to her mom’s cabin because Sarah wasn’t feeling good, and when she saw her mom’s legs, she knew they should call the doctor.
The ship’s doctor, Dr. Gordon, recognized that Sarah had a blood clot in her leg and she needed to have surgery immediately. The doctor told them that she had six hours to get to a hospital otherwise she would lose her leg.
With the clock ticking, the captain stopped the cruise ship so the Coast Guard helicopter could bring Sarah to a hospital in Juneau.
Kathy said the captain informed all the passengers of the emergency and that they could watch her mom being airlifted on the ship’s TV station.
Sarah said she was in the helicopter for 45 minutes, then in Juneau she boarded a medical transport plane for two hours that flew her to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. It was on the plane that she was given blood thinning medicine that saved her life.
She was admitted to the emergency room and spent 8 to 10 hours in surgery.
Sarah said everybody was very professional and she felt like she was in good hands during the entire process.
“Everyone was very concerned, I was very thankful,” she said.
Her family got off the ship and came to her bedside as soon as they could.
Sarah and Laurance met when she was working at his dad’s store, the Dixie Five and Dime on Bay Street, where Rossignol’s is located now.
She was Sarah Pinckney then and only 18.
“We just enjoyed each other,” she said about their time together when they were first dating.
They have lived in Beaufort all their lives and raised three kids — Kathy, Larry and Carol.
Kathy and her husband Robert also met in Beaufort and they were on the cruise with her parents celebrating their own 40th wedding anniversary.
Although the plans for a special celebration didn’t go exactly the way the family had anticipated, they are all glad that Sarah received such quality care and that she pulled through.
“It was quite an adventure,” said Kathy.
After a week in the hospital in Seattle and three operations later, the Davis’ were allowed to come home to Beaufort.
Sarah said she has been to her doctor and will soon meet with a vascular surgeon at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.
While looking back at her journey, Sarah said, “It was an experience I won’t forget,” and added lightheartedly, “We won’t be making it to the West Coast for a while.”