The fight to save shark attack victim Mat Lee’s leg was aired on free-to-air television last night and it was as gruesome as prime time viewing gets. Australian reality TV program, Gold Coast Medical, was on hand to capture the dramatic moments in which the Ballina bodyboarder’s leg (and life) were saved. Given the extent of his injuries, as depicted in the program, it seems nothing short of miraculous that he survived.
Dr Will Butcher, who was part of the team operating on Mat, agreed: “I’ve been here for six years on the Gold Coast and I’ve never seen anything like that,” he said.
The estimated four-metre-long Great White mauled both of Mat’s legs shortly after 10am on July 2, 2015 at Lighthouse Beach, Ballina. Mat suffered severe blood loss and required a dramatic mid-air blood transfusion during the helicopter flight from Ballina to the Gold Coast hospital to keep him alive. During the program, viewers witnessed vast volumes of blood being pumped into his body and a large, immaculately preserved shark tooth being removed from the huge scoop of flesh missing from his left leg. The program was also the first time Mat himself had seen the extent of his injuries.
“This will be the first time we have viewed the footage so there are many mixed emotions, but are absolutely amazed at the progress Mat has continually made since his attack,” wrote Lee’s official Facebook support page.
Mat would spend the next two months undergoing operations and warding off infection in his freshly sutured wounds. He is one of six shark attack victims along the NSW North Coast since September 2014. The debate over whether to install shark nets continues to rage with the NSW State government also pledging to roll out 100 ‘smart’ drum lines along the coast to catch sharks and protect ocean-goers. Mat himself has refused to comment on what should be done to protect the public from sharks.