Briton who lost leg to South African shark told he may never walk again
The British swimmer attacked by a great white shark off a Cape Town beach has been told he may never walk again despite surgery that saved one of his legs.
Michael Cohen's femoral artery was severed by the teeth of a 15-foot great white shark
Michael Cohen is learning to use a wheelchair after he was warned that he may never be able to use his remaining foot which was badly mauled in last month's incident.
The 42-year old, who plunged into the water in False Bay despite warnings that great whites were circling, has spoken for the first time to thank those who had saved his life.
"I am very grateful for everyone who saved my life that day," said Mr Cohen, a British passport holder who lives in South Africa, from his hospital bed.
"I would like to thank all the medical personnel at the scene as well as the doctors, surgeons and nursing staff."
In a statement issued through hospital officials he said his family and friends had been "a pillar of strength" and added: "I am now focused on regaining my health, strength and my mobility."
The part-time accountant's femoral artery was severed by the teeth of the 15-foot great white in shallow waters close to a river mouth where the predators gather to feed off fish.
The shark, and another great white, had continued to circle nearby as two passing pensioners waded into the bloody waters to pull the stricken swimmer to shore where a member of a shark spotting unit conducted life-saving first aid.
Surgeons said if it hadn't been for the skilled response of those on Fish Hoek beach, who fashioned tourniquets from a belt and wet suit, Mr Cohen would have bled to death within minutes. Hours of complex emergency surgery managed to save one of Mr Cohen's legs despite appalling injuries to the foot.
"He's out of bed and in a wheelchair," said Faye Kariem from the Constantiaberg MediClinic. "He still has the foot, but we don't know if he'll be able to use it – that will take many months to establish.
"The surgeons cannot be certain that Michael's foot or leg can be saved in the long term. He is aware that there is no guarantee and he is prepared for that."
Fish Hoek beach, where a number of swimmers have been killed or maimed by sharks in recent years, has been closed to the public since the incident.
It lies in Cape Town's beautiful False Bay which boasts one of the biggest shark populations in the world. Full time spotters are employed to monitor and issue warnings to swimmers and surfers when predators are in the area.
Mr Cohen was well known to the spotters and they had regularly clashed over his refusal to heed their warnings to stay out of the water.
The swimmer had repeatedly told Monwabisi Sikweyiya, one of the senior monitors, that it was "my life, my choice" to dive into the waves and swim towards the sharks when the beach was closed.
Ironically, it was Mr Siweyiya who had turned his own belt and clothes into emergency tourniquets which saved the accountant's life in the crucial minutes after the attack.http://www.telegraph.co.uk