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Cameron Wrathall Medical Fund
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Cameron Wrathall Medical Fund

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Father who fought off a three-metre bull shark that mauled him as he swam in a river relives moment his heart stopped on the way to the hospital - as attack leaves him unable to walk

  • Father-of-two Cameron Wrathall, in his 50s, was bitten by a suspected bull shark
  • Mr Wrathall and friend were on a morning swim in Perth's Swan River in January 
  • Two kayakers assisted him by covering  his wound and taking him back to shore 
  • He thanked, his friend, the kayakers, paramedics, hospital staff for saving his life

A father-of-two has told of his miraculous tale of survival after fighting off a three-metre shark and being brought back to life by paramedics on the way to hospital.

Cameron Wrathall, 54, was swimming at Blackwall Reach in the Swan River, south Perth on January 14 when he battled the suspected bull shark, leaving him unable to walk.

'The shark hit me really hard, it's the biggest impact I've ever felt of something hitting me,' Mr Wrathall told 7 News from his hospital bed in Perth.

'It was then trying to shake from side to side to tear part of me away. It all happened very quickly, and I just did a kick onto part of it and a thrust down on my hands to push it off me and hit it pretty hard with the palms of my hands, and it went,' he said.

He did not get away unscathed, however, with the shark biting down on his left upper leg, leaving a huge wound from his buttocks to his groin.

His friend, Richard O'Brien, enlisted the help of two kayakers and they managed to put a torniquet on the wound which had begun gushing blood.

'There was a fair bit of blood in the water and the bite was quite a significant one, it was right at the top of his thigh, so it was a pretty decent bit,' one of the kayakers said.

Cameron Wrathall Medical Fund

'He didn't have much blood by the time he got back to shore,' Mr O'Brien said.

The three then helped him to shore, where paramedics rushed to the scene.

Mr Wrathall said his heart stopped in the ambulance, most likely from blood loss, but paramedics were able to bring him back.

In hospital, he was unconscious for two days, with trauma surgeons at Royal Perth Hospital performing numerous operations.

Mr Wrathall credits them, along MR O'Brien and paramedics with saving his life.

His two daughters Keely and Cian are grateful their father pulled through and said his positive attitude also helped him keep fighting.

They said they are happy he is back to his 'cheery self'.

Mr Wrathall recovery will be long, however, with his sciatic nerve severed in two places from the shark bite, leaving him unable to walk.

Doctors say he will need years of rehabilitation before he is able to regain full use of both legs.

He also said he would be back swimming in the river when he is able.

The two kayakers who heard Mr Wrathall's screams said there was blood in the water before going over to assist him at the popular swimming spot.

One of the kayakers took off his T-shirt and wrapped it around the wound before taking Mr Wrathall to shore.

 Mr Wrathall worked at the Fremantle Water Polo Club and swam in the river almost every day.

Western Australia's fisheries department believes a bull shark two to three metres in size was responsible for the attack.

A water police vessel is on the scene and people have been cleared from the water.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the shark attack was a 'a very, very surprising event'