February 24, 2009
Shark Attack Victim’s Hand Saved By Leeches
Australian surgeons were able to successfully use leeches to help reattach the severed hand of an Australian surfer mauled by a great white shark on Sydney's Bondi Beach, the AFP reported.
Doctors are calling the operation a "minor miracle."
The 33 year-old surfer, Glenn Orgias, nearly lost his hand after sustaining an attack by an 8.2-foot great white in the surf off Bondi earlier this month. It was the second shark attack in Sydney in February.
The man's hand was hanging by a 1-inch piece of skin as he was taken to a hospital, and plastic surgeon Kevin Ho said he was worried it might not be able to be reattached.
Ho said the man's general health and the speed of which he was rushed into the operating room made it possible for the hand to be reattached.
Doctors were able to restore blood flow to the injured hand using leeches, and Ho said he was hopeful the patient would regain some of its use.
"I thought the hopes for the hand were close to zero, but I have hope in time that Glenn will have a working hand," he said.
Ho said for Orgias to make it to this stage was a minor miracle and a reflection of how healthy and physically well he was.
Orgias believes a tourniquet applied by a French surfer during his rescue likely helped save his life.
Experts believe this might be the first recorded attack in Sydney's waters by a great white shark.
To find a great white in the city's waters is considered rare, but authorities said 21 great whites had been caught in nets off Sydney, yet only two were caught off Bondi in the past three years.
The day before, a bull shark attacked a navy diver in Sydney Harbor, just off Garden Island military base. The diver lost a hand and a leg after enduring the attack.
Australia's vast coastline has experienced its share of shark attacks, but experts said Sydney Harbor had not reported an incidence in over a decade, and that the last fatal attack was in 1963.
Australia has recorded 194 deaths through shark attacks over the past two centuries, and researchers continue to remind the public that more people die from bee stings and lightning strikes.