A young woman who was the victim of a vicious shark attack in the US has shared the story of the moment she realised that she had been bitten – but stressed that she doesn’t hold it against the creature.
Paige Winter had been on a family day out at a beach in North Carolina when the life-changing event unfolded.
Then only 17 years-old, she lost her leg, and suffered severe injuries to her hand that led to two fingers being amputated.
Paige remembered the event while speaking on LadBibleTV’s No Filter series, describing how she had been playing at being a mermaid in the shallow water when she was attacked.
She said: “I leaned backwards to flop backwards onto my back, and then swim backwards and come back up like a mermaid, but once I had gone backwards, I stepped on something and then the chaos began.”
Paige had felt what she thought was her dad’s back, but looking around, she quickly realised that this was not the case.
She continued: “I felt a sharp pain on my ankle, and then nothing else. It felt like forever, I felt like I was under there for 20 minutes but it was more like 20 seconds. It wasn’t long at all.”
Paige’s dad soon came to her rescue and pulled her away from the shark-infested waters, but not before the then-teenager had suffered debilitating injuries.
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“I still had the whole leg attached to me, it was really, really awful. You could see bone, you could see teeth marks in the bone,” she remembered.
Tending to her injuries, Paige was flown to a hospital by helicopter and she explained that she was too shocked to feel in much pain.
She said: “I didn’t feel much pain, I had never had a broken bone or anything before this. So I was just kind of sitting there and I felt the way that TV static looks, when your foot falls asleep, that’s how I felt.
“I was sitting there thinking, how are they going to get off my bikini, that’s going to be weird.”
But, Paige was soon informed by a kind doctor that the surgeons would need to amputate her leg and the reality of the situation began to kick in.
The operation removed one of Paige’s legs, along with two of Paige’s fingers and she has since had skin grafts – including transferring a piece of her back to her palm – to save her hand.
And, despite having to learn to live with a prosthetic leg, Paige suggested: “I’d probably go through about six leg amputations before I had to go through the hand thing again.”
Now 20, Paige remembered that she had learnt how to walk relatively easily, but had struggled for almost a year with learning how to perform basic tasks like buttoning her jeans and styling her hair with her new hand.
In spite of the impact the attack has had on her life, Paige has supported shark conservation projects and doesn’t blame the animal for the harm it caused her.
She explained: “They’re just creatures, we’re all just creatures, just doing our best. They’re not evil to me, they’re just animals doing animal stuff; my cat bites me all the time and I still love him."
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