By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
NEARLY a month after being bitten by a shark while in the waters off Waderick Wells Cay, 50-year-old American Salvador Ruiz has been discharged from a Florida hospital.
Mr Ruiz, a charter captain and fishing guide, was snorkelling when he was attacked by a six-foot reef shark on June 17, leaving a large gash on his leg.
Describing the incident as a “bite and a lot of pain”, Mr Ruiz was flown to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Centre in Miami where he underwent five surgeries, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Although Mr Ruiz was discharged on Sunday – with the help of a walker – he needs more surgery, “including skin grafts and rehabilitation,” according to the newspaper.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Mr Ruiz, which states that in a best case scenario he will require six to 12 months of treatment and rehabilitation.
“Salvi is a self-employed charter captain and fishing guide that depends on his physical abilities to make a living,” the GoFundMe page reads.
“He lives very modestly, lives alone, and doesn’t have disability insurance coverage. Although his medical insurance will (for now) continue to pay his medical expenses, he has no other means of providing for himself or covering his day-to-day living expenses while undergoing medical treatment and rehab.”
This incident is one of several shark attacks that have occurred in the country in recent weeks.
On July 4, a 32-year-old American tourist was airlifted to New Providence after being bitten by a shark while snorkelling in waters off Guana Cay, Abaco.
Police officers and EMS personnel took him to the Marsh Harbour Clinic where he was treated for his injuries. Shortly before 9pm he was taken by emergency flight to New Providence for further medical treatment.
On June 26, another American visitor, Jordan Lindsey of California, was killed in a shark attack while snorkelling off Rose Island.
Concern that the Bahamas’ tourism market could suffer a blow after this fatal shark attack has created the impetus for officials to consider a number of measures to protect snorkellers.
On Monday, CEO and Executive Director of the Tourism Development Corporation Janet Johnson, told The Tribune several safeguards are being considered.
Lindsey’s family has criticised tour company Sandy Toes claiming there were no basic medical supplies and no attempts made by staff to save the college student’s life.
Ms Johnson agreed that these supplies should be mandatory, adding officials were going to work “quite diligently” to make the necessary changes. Stakeholders also want emergency and training protocols put in place, she said.
The GoFundMe for Mr Ruiz can be accessed at: https://www.gofundme.com/medical-and-rehabilitation-needs#nt=interstitial-manual