Steve Bruemmer is grateful to be alive after surviving a shark attack in 2022. Luckily, bystanders quickly sprang to his rescue – and the 28 total units of blood and platelets he needed were available at the hospital when he arrived.
"The shark bite was unlucky, but after that, I was extremely lucky,” he said. “There are a half a dozen things without which I would have died. And none of it would have done any good without the blood donors.”
An experienced swimmer and athlete, Steve was enjoying one of his regular swims in the Pacific Ocean. Normally he swam with a group of friends. That day, he was by himself. The water was extremely calm as he made his way along the shore. Then, 150 yards from the beach, a shark attacked him from below.
“I got slammed. I didn’t know what direction things were coming from,” he said. “The shark caught my arm, flipped me over, bit me as it came up half out of the water, its jaw across my legs and lower abdomen; it drove me down, then spit me out.”
A nurse and police officer paddleboarding nearby quickly got Steve to shore with the aid of a surfer who had an extra board. Two nurses who just happened to be at the beach applied tourniquets as fast as they could to stanch the bleeding until emergency personnel arrived.
He didn’t suffer any damage to his internal organs, but his injuries were extensive, as evidenced by all the blood and platelets he needed initially, plus 5 more units in the week following the attack. As he continues to recover, Steve has returned to swimming, but not in the ocean. His experience also renewed his motivation to help others by donating blood, and to give more often.
“I gave a few times, when it was really convenient, when I stumbled into it. But I didn’t go out of my way to do it,” he said. “I wasn’t even really aware that I was skating by on the generosity of other people. I obviously understand it now.
“You don’t have to get on the paddleboard and go out into the water and find somebody bleeding to death to be the good Samaritan. The good Samaritan is the anonymous blood donor. Now, I want to be the good Samaritan that donates blood.”
While we hear a lot about sharks this time of year, the reality is that there are lots of other, more common, reasons people need blood. There is a much higher chance of injury in a car accident for example. Many cancer patients need blood and platelets during treatment. About 1 in 83 childbirths require blood transfusions. Not to mention the blood, platelets and plasma needed every day for surgeries, people with genetic blood disorders and more.
Whatever the reason patients need blood, that blood must be available when they need it to save their lives. Help combat the blood shortage by making your appointment to give today.