On April 14, 2019 a female diver was attacked by a reef shark off the Caribbean island of Providencia.
Ana María Muñoz Parra was visiting the Island in preparation for the 2019 Iron Man Challenge.
As she explored the island, she came across a dive shop and inquired about a dive excursion. The group was running a trip and she secured a spot for herself and her boyfriend.
There were six divers on the boat who split into two groups on their second dive of the day. Parra opted to stay with a dive instructor as the other group left from the opposite side of the boat.
“It was about 11:00 in the morning. We went down 15 meters (49 ft) when I saw there were four sharks in front of me,” she told El Pais, a newspaper in Cali. “I was scared and asked the instructor what it was. And he told me to be quiet. I panicked and I hit him, and after 2 seconds I felt something biting me. My brain could not connect: I did not understand what was happening. A shark was biting me.”
She ascended to the surface and her dive group alerted the boat. As she was lifted onto the boat, she saw how badly her wrist had been damaged. She was unable to hold up her left hand because the tendons and nerves had been damaged.
Parra said the captain of the boat initially did not want to leave the area as the second group of divers had not surfaced. However, once he saw the damaged appendage he began boating back to shore.
Unfortunately, the boat was not prepared for the medical emergency.
“They had no first aid, no blanket, no towel, they had absolutely nothing. I was in a bikini because I was going to see fish, not sharks,” she said. However, someone on the boat pulled off their t-shirt and used it to wrap the wound.
Once they arrived on the beach, a golf cart was used to transport her to a small health care center. During the 40-minute ordeal, Parra said the pain went away and she began to lose consciousness and came to peace with the fact she was going to die. Thankfully, someone saw her fading and helped bring her out of shock.
A doctor who had recently graduated began to sew up the wound while a nurse guided him through the process. After the wound was closed, they finally gave Parra pain medicine.
It was now around 3:00 p.m. and the viability of saving her hand was dropping every hour. She was eventually able to find a humanitarian flight off the island. After hours of transferring flights and avoiding airport personnel who were afraid she could die during the flight, she arrived at the Imbanaco Medical Center in Cali.
On April 22, she was finally able to have surgery on her wrist. The shark had severed two of the three nerves in her dominant hand and the tendons had been destroyed.
Hand surgeon Dr. Juliana Rojas was able to save her hand, and Parra is extremely grateful.
“What Juliana did was magic. I look at my hand and if it hadn’t been for her, I wouldn’t have a hand . . . I was completely lost. It was incredible,” she said.
As with many shark attack survivors, Parra still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. However, she plans to swim again, but for now, she won’t be diving.
“Life is borrowed, I am super strong and I say ‘I can’ with everything,” she said. “But this experience is an invitation to know that one is vulnerable, that there are things that one cannot control, that it is [possible to have] another one, and at any moment you can die. Or lose your hand.”
https://www.pressreader.com/colombia/el ... 6522787011
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