Stephen Cohn, 14, of Buffalo Grove, had to be airlifted off the ship and his parents are grateful the odyssey ended well.
It began as the ideal spring break vacation for the Cohn family: a Caribbean cruise. But when Stephen developed serious health issues just two days into it, the vacation came to an abrupt end.
"There was nothing we could do and he needed to get medical attention," said Mitchell Cohn, father.
Mitchell Cohn says the captain of the Carnival cruise was in the process of diverting the 4,000 passenger ship when Stephen's condition got worse. They had to get him to a hospital in Puerto Rico as quickly as possible. So the Coast Guard helicopter hovered above and loaded up Stephen and his mother for the 20-minute flight. By boat it would have taken six hours.
"I had to do it. I couldn't just let him go with the nurse on the ship. I had to go, I had to be there. I had to be the support," said Michelle Cohn, mother.
"We think they saved his life. We really do," said Mitchell Cohn.
During his week-long hospital stay, Stephen became inspired to help some of his fellow patients.
"I was going to start a program called 'Libros for Ninos' and it was to going to donate books and movies to this hospital's intensive care center," Stephen told ABC7.
The medical staff in Puerto Rico has cleared Stephen's return to school on Thursday.