Aventura, FL (April 20, 2009)
John Emory never imagined that he could be attacked by a shark while standing in only three feet of water in the ocean. On Sunday, January 25th Emory, a civil contractor, went spear fishing with his friend, an ex-diver for the US Navy, off the coast of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, when he felt a surge of water.
“I thought it was simply a sudden surge, when instantly I felt as if I had been hit by a car or struck by a baseball bat on the leg,” said Emory, “That’s when I realized that a shark had attacked me and held my left leg between its jaws to devour me. I punched its head with all my might, but it was as if I’d hit concrete covered in sandpaper.”
Emory managed to fight off the shark and climb out of the water onto a nearby rock, where his friend came to his aid, applying a tourniquet to contain the hemorrhaging. “The wound was very big. I was bleeding, my blood pressure dropped, and I thought I was going to die. I felt as if I were dreaming. It was a nightmare,” said Emory.
At 12:50 pm that same day, Trinity Air Ambulance was called by the MEDEVAC Coordinator at US Naval Hospital in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for what they were told was the US Naval Hospital’s “First Ever Shark Bite”. The patient, Emory, had significant blood and tissue loss to his left calf and needed to be air ambulanced as soon as possible to the US mainland.
Trinity Air Ambulance, a select rapid response provider with multi-year special permits required by the US Government in order to be able to land in Cuba, immediately activated their pilots and medical flight team upon receiving the initial call. After consulting with the US Naval Surgeon to determine the severity of Emory’s injuries, the team determined that Aventura Hospital and Medical Center would be the best facility to treat the “Shark Bite”. Dr. Jeffrey Levy, an excellent critical care specialist, was contacted to accept the patient. Dr. Martin Grossman, a general surgeon who serves as the Chief of Surgery at Aventura Hospital, and his son Dr. David Grossman, also a general surgeon, were then called to perform immediate surgery to save Mr. Emory’s leg.
Emory was flown to Fort Lauderdale, Florida and then transported by ambulance to Aventura Hospital and Medical Center. “There, they miraculously saved me,” said Emory.
Drs. Martin and David Grossman managed to preserve Emory’s muscles and tendons and reattach them to the bone. “It was just like a jigsaw puzzle,” they described.
Dr. Martin Grossman agreed that Emory’s recovery was a miracle. “Number One, it is a miracle that he has his leg,” he stated, “Number Two, it is a miracle that he healed without infection; Number Three, it is a miracle that he has movement and he can use his leg without any difficulty of range of motion or anything else.”
The International Shark Attack File predicts that the number of shark attacks should rise each year as more people take interest in aquatic recreational activities. But Emory suggests others can avoid shark encounters by simply familiarizing themselves with the area. “A river flows out close to the place where I was attacked, and sharks go there to find food. Had I known that, I would never have gone into those waters.”
Today, thanks to prompt and first class care provided by the accepting Physicians, Aventura Hospital and Trinity Air Ambulance, John Emory, “Shark Bite” victim, is walking.