Mauled shark attack victim saved by tourniquet made from wetsuit
A British shark attack victim whose leg was bitten off was saved by quick-thinking bystanders who applied a makeshift tourniquet from a wetsuit and two belts, a surgeon has said.
Michael Cohen, 42, was mauled by the great white while swimming at Fish Hoek beach in Cape Town, South Africa.
He emerged from the water bleeding profusely from his right thigh and left ankle which was also bitten through.
Today, surgeon professor Andrew Nichol said Mr Cohen was critical but stable in hospital after receiving more than seven litres of blood.
He paid tribute to those who saved Mr Cohen's life, saying: "That tourniquet has consisted of a wetsuit applied around the thigh and wrapped around with two belts very, very tightly.
"It was an amateur tourniquet but it had almost completely resulted in a cessation of blood loss.
"I just want to commend the first aid work of those on the beach and the tremendous way in which they responded actually saved the life of this patient."
It is thought those responsible for saving Mr Cohen left the beach without passing on their details.
Mr Cohen is believed to be a part-time accountant living in the Cape Town suburb of Plumstead.
He was airlifted to Constantiaberg Medi-Clinic where he arrived fully conscious.
Medics stabilised him and battled to save his life, taking him into surgery where the tourniquet was removed.
Prof Nichol said: "We continued with the resuscitation and stabilisation.
"In theatre it was fairly obvious that nothing could be done as there were was no right lower leg so we just formalised the amputation on that site surgically."
An orthopaedic team was called in to look at Mr Cohen's left leg because there were worries about blood flow to it, said the professor.
Despite the shark cutting through Mr Cohen's left ankle, painstaking work was done to treat the wound and clean his foot, which was still present.
"It is a major injury to his left lower leg," said Prof Nichol.
"With him having lost the right leg it is absolutely imperative we do everything in our power to ensure that left leg remains viable and we will continue to go flat out on that."
Mr Cohen will go back into theatre in 24 hours for his wounds to be assessed and ensure no infection is setting in.
The surgeon said he had spoken to Mr Cohen's parents.
"They are obviously extremely traumatised by the whole episode," he said.
It was reported that the beach was closed when Mr Cohen went for a swim and a shark flag, indicating the presence of a great white, was flying.
He was said to be the only person in the water.
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