Shark bite victim could lose agility in left hand
The 29-year-old man attacked by a shark this week is "stable" but could lose movement and sensation in his left hand because of severe damage to 21 tendons and two key nerves in his forearm, his doctor said yesterday.
Ronald Deguilmo, who underwent 6 1/2 hours of surgery Wednesday night, might need to be operated on one more time to close some wounds, and stay at St. Francis-West Medical Center for a couple of weeks, said his doctor, Wiley Brunel.
"It's a bad injury. Terrible," he said.
Deguilmo, who is right-handed and works as a manager at Outback Steakhouse in Waipio Gentry, was bitten by a roughly 9-foot shark Wednesday afternoon while spearfishing with a friend about 250 yards off the "Leftovers" surf spot on the North Shore.
He received more than 100 stitches to close cuts, repair tendons, nerves and lost muscle, Brunel said. Even with months of physical therapy, it is unclear whether Deguilmo will regain full control of his fingers and hand, he said.
Brunel said he has treated a couple of shark attack victims, noting that the injuries are usually very serious.
"It's the kind of injury that can get worse before it gets better," Brunel said about the risk of possible infections. "He's just lucky to be alive."
The shark bite was 2 1/2 inches wide, 4 or 5 inches long and at least 2 inches deep, according to James Santiago, a co-worker at Outback who had been swimming with Deguilmo and helped him to shore. He said Deguilmo described the shark as between 9 and 12 feet long.
Wednesday's encounter was the second shark bite near the surf spot in three months and follows shark sightings that prompted warnings at nearby beaches last week.
North Shore lifeguards removed shark warning signs yesterday morning and had no reports of shark sightings yesterday, Ocean Safety Lt. Jeff Morelock said.
"It was calm and clear, with no surf. There were a lot of people but no shark sightings," he said.
Morelock, who has been a lifeguard for 19 years, said he has a perception that there have been more shark sightings than usual since August. "I can recall similar cycles, say back in 1993-94," he said.
One thing Morelock said he has noticed about recent sightings is that some have been in midday -- compared with the traditional time to watch out for sharks near dawn and dusk.
Noting that friends spearfishing with Deguilmo were able to help him after he was bitten, Morelock said he would like solo divers and surfers to remember that "it's good to have a buddy around."
On March 24, visiting surfer Liz Dunn, 28, was bitten on her left leg while surfing at "Leftovers" in murky conditions.
Lifeguards also posted shark warning signs last week after sharks were seen off of Chun's Reef and Laniakea on May 22.
Star-Bulletin reporter Diana Leone contributed to this report.