The family of a surfer who suffered “life changing” injuries during a horror shark attack have provided an update on his condition.
Toby Begg, 44, was surfing at Lighthouse Beach, south of Port Macquarie, when he was bitten by a shark on Friday morning.
NSW Police said Mr Begg tried to fight off the shark – believed to be a Great White – some 4m long.
His condition has improved from life-threatening to a serious but stable condition, a Hunter New England local health district spokesperson confirmed just after 11am on Saturday.
His brother-in-law, Chris Lenihan said his injuries are “extremely serious and life-changing” but doctors are still working to understand the full extent of the damage.
“It is very early stages and the full extent of his injuries are being uncovered however, he will require many surgeries and has years of rehabilitation ahead of him,” he said in a post to Facebook on Saturday morning.
The skilled builder and business owner is the main income earner of his young family including “loving partner” Tracy and their two children.
A GoFundMe to help the family pay for his medical bills and the future cost of his traumatic injuries has already raised more than $6000.
Firefighters from the Fire and Rescue NSW Port Macquarie station offered up thoughts and prayers to the former on-call firefighter.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with former Port Macquarie on-Call Firefighter, Toby Begg and his family after Toby was attacked by a shark while surfing at Lighthouse Beach yesterday,” they said in a post to Facebook.
Search for shark begins
Shark biologists have assessed photographs of the bite marks on the surfboard and determined the shark responsible for the attack was likely a Great White Shark measuring in between 3.8m and 4.2m.
No sharks matching that description have been spotted in nearby waters since the attack, a NSW Department of Primary Industries spokeswoman said.
However, a Great White Shark was detected by a shark listening station on Thursday.
Another three Great White Sharks were caught on the SMART drumlines in the area that day including one at Lighthouse Beach.
Surfer fought shark off after horror injuries
A teenage girl who witnessed the attack told 9 News the man’s foot had been “ripped off” and he was “bleeding everywhere”.
“They were trying to talk to him, he was silent, he was frozen,” she told NBN.
“They tried to tie his leg with the leg rope from the surfboard and some sticks to keep it straight.”
NSW Police said he was helped to shore by other surfers “where a tourniquet was applied by witnesses”, including an off-duty doctor.
“The reports are the man has tried to fight this shark for up to 30 seconds and then has swum himself to shore where he’s realised that he’s sustained significant lower leg injuries,” Chief Inspector Martin Burke told reporters.
A NSW Ambulance spokeswoman said he suffered lower leg injuries and was rushed first to Port Macquarie Base Hospital before being flown by a Westpac Rescue Helicopter to John Hunter Hospital on Friday evening.
John Hunter Hospital have been contacted for comment.