ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – When a typical day at the beach turned into a terrifying encounter with a shark, a teenage girl wondered if she’d ever be able to run track again. Doctors tried something unusual to heal her wounds-tissue from the umbilical cord of a healthy mother.
At just 13-years-old, Alysa Whetro has an incredible story to tell. It happened in waist-deep water with her friend at her side.
Alysa told Ivanhoe, “She (her friend) actually felt the shark brush up against her leg, so both of us pulled our feet up out of the water so nothing else would happen, and we were both crying and trying to scream for people to come help us.”
DeWann Whetro, Alysa’s father explained, “It was something I would never want anyone to have to deal with as a parent because it’s a horrible feeling.”
The shark severed Alysa’s Achilles tendon. It’s an injury that normally takes more than six months to heal; but Amber Shane, DPM, FACFAS, Foot and Ankle Surgeon at Orlando Foot and Ankle Clinic used an innovative technique to repair the damage.
“Amniotic tissue comes from the placenta, and those have been shown to have the highest amount of growth factors and growth cells to help tissues in healing,” Dr. Shane told Ivanhoe.
Dr. Shane covered Alysa’s severed tendon with a square piece of tissue from an umbilical cord donated to science by a healthy mother.
After two months in a cast, and two months of physical therapy she is completely healed.
"I only have a little bit of pain and that’s only when I’m sitting down for a long time and my ankle gets stiff,” Alysa explained.
But she does have a pretty big scar — one she will proudly carry for the rest of her life.
Alysa said, “Not everybody gets bit by a shark. Not saying that you want to get bit by a shark, but it’s like your own little story that you can tell to everybody.”
Alysa’s mother sent pictures of her leg to scientists in Africa who said, judging from the bite marks, they believe she was bitten by a five to six-foot bull shark.