Victim of Shark Attack in Good Condition

June 15, 2015

WILMINGTON, NC - New Hanover Regional Medical Center pediatric specialists upgraded the condition of a young shark attack victim to good this morning.

Two victims of shark attacks were brought to New Hanover Regional Medical Center after separate attacks on Sunday. One 16 year old male, was in critical condition when he arrived. He improved to fair condition after surgery. The family of the second victim has asked that no information be released.

The boy's left arm was severed just below his shoulder. He is from Colorado Springs, CO, and was visiting the beach with family. Borden Hooks, III, MD, performed surgeries on both patients and Thomas E. Paulson, MD, pediatric critical care physician, has been the attending intensive care physician for the patient.

The mother of the young man has issued the following statement:

"I would like to thank everyone who has cared for my son, from the people who saved him through their quick actions on the beach, to the transport crew, emergency department team, doctors and staff here at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. I appreciate all their efforts."

AirLink 2, a NHRMC critical care helicopter based in Whiteville, responded to the Oak Island calls and landed at designated landing zones to transport the patients from Brunswick County Emergency Services to NHRMC.

"We appreciate and join in the heartfelt expressions of support for the young people who were involved in shark attacks this weekend. We also want to thank the bystanders and those on the scene who acted quickly to control their bleeding and get medical help. Right now the most important thing is that we focus on the care of the patient and family," said Dr. Hooks.

Shark bite injuries can range from mild to catastrophic, depending on the size of the shark, the severity of the attack and the area bitten. The NHRMC Emergency and Trauma Services team recommends the following actions for providing first aid after a shark bite:

  • Call 911 immediately.

  • Attempt to stop or at least slow the bleeding by applying firm pressure. If an arm or leg has significant bleeding then apply a tourniquet above the injury site.

  • Make-shift tourniquets can made with your normal beach-going items such as beach towels, wetsuits (sleeve or leg of suit), t-shirts, belts, swim suit cover-up, beach bag straps, or any item or material that is long enough to wrap around an extremity and pull tightly. Ideally, the tourniquet material should be 1-2 inches wide, and long enough to wrap around the injured arm or leg just above the injury site.

  • Dry off victim and cover with dry towels or other items to keep them warm.

  • Such significant trauma may cause victims to vomit. Be prepared to roll them onto their side to reduce the chance of aspiration of their vomit (breathing vomit into their lungs).