Teenage Shark Attack Survivor Faces Amputation Complications

Addison Bethea, the 17-year-old high school cheerleader from Perry, Florida, who had her leg amputated after being attacked by a shark, is now facing the complications that come with the loss of a limb.

On June 30, Bethea was wading in the waters off Keaton Beach near her home when she was attacked by a 9-foot-long shark, which only let go of her leg after her brother dragged her out of the water. She was rushed to Bixler Trauma & Emergency Center at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital for treatment. The damage to the nerves and blood vessels in her right leg was too much to save the whole limb. As a result, on July 6, she was taken in to have the leg surgically amputated just above the right knee.

According to her family's Facebook page, the surgery was successful, and Bethea is now in recovery.

"Addison is now out of surgery," the family said in a post. "The doctors were able to perform an above the knee amputation and it went very well. Saving the tissue of the lower leg was paramount in this even being possible. Dr. DeRosier, Dr. Hutchinson, and the medical staff can't get enough praise from us for the wonderful care of our baby girl today."

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The day after her amputation, Bethea managed to take a few steps down the hospital hall. However, by July 9, she was struggling.

"[July 9] was not a very good night for Addison," said the family in an update. "She was in extreme pain from the leg and was complaining of the bandage feeling too tight. She had a slight fever and her white blood cell count was a little elevated. So this morning they performed a CT scan to see if there was a build-up of any fluids that weren't able to drain properly. She had developed a hematoma and was taken in for surgery this morning to evaluate and drain it. They are going to leave that part of the wound open in order for it to continue to drain with the intention of having another surgery [on July 12] to close it up if all looks well."

amputee
Stock image of a leg amputee. Addison Bethea had her right leg amputated above the knee after a shark attack, but is now needing more surgeries to treat her resultant hematoma. iStock / Getty Images Plus

A hematoma is when blood pools outside the blood vessel, often as a result of traumatic injury or surgery. Amputation can lead to a number of other complications, including edemas, deep vein thrombosis, pneumonia and stump and phantom limb pain.

Her family has set up a GoFundMe page to support them in raising money to pay for her medical bills, which as she requires more and more surgeries, keeps increasing. So far, they have raised nearly $70,000.