UNC: 12-year-old shark-bite victim released from hospital

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Kiersten Yow, 12, of Asheboro, recovering from injuries sustained in a June 14 shark attack off Oak Island at North Carolina Children's Hospital. Photo courtesy UNC Hospitals.
Kiersten Yow, 12, of Asheboro, recovering from injuries sustained in a June 14 shark attack off Oak Island at North Carolina Children’s Hospital. Photo courtesy UNC Hospitals.

The 12-year-old girl who was bitten by a shark off Oak Island on June 14 has been released from North Carolina Children’s Hospital in Chapel Hill and transferred to a children’s rehabilitation facility in Charlotte, hospital officials announced this week.

Kiersten Yow, of Asheboro, was vacationing with her family when she was bitten by a shark on June 14 while swimming about 20 yards offshore of Oak Island. An hour later, 16-year-old Hunter Treschl lost his arm in a shark attack.

“In the weeks since my June 25 statement, Kiersten has made tremendous progress in her recovery,” Dr. Bill Adams, surgeon-in-chief at the children’s hospital, said. “With the skin grafts sufficiently healed, she was permitted to begin walking with assistance again on July 8, and already she is walking under her own power, increasing in both strength and distance each day.”

Yow and Treschl both lost their arms in the attacks. Treschl was released from New Hanover Regional Medical Center on June 18.

Related story: Teen shark bite victim who lost his arm released from the hospital

Kiersten had reconstructive surgery on June 24, her third surgery at UNC Children’s Hospital.

“This progress is a credit to her care team—pediatric orthopaedic surgeon, Anna Cuomo, MD, and pediatric reconstructive surgeon, Jeyhan Wood, MD, among them—but also to Kiersten herself,” Adams said. “Kiersten is a remarkable young lady, very independent and motivated to push her limits every day. Her determination and positive attitude have enabled her to make steady progress and will serve as her greatest allies, alongside her loving family, in the coming weeks.

“Kiersten will most certainly continue to improve in rehab, where she will focus on increasing her strength, balance, and range of motion and on learning how to use her left arm in her daily activities as efficiently and effectively as possible. We expect great things of Kiersten and are anxious to follow her progress on the road to recovery.”

Keirsten’s family issued the following statement about her recovery:

Today marks 30 days since our lives changed forever—and today our family takes a giant leap toward our ultimate goal of returning home as Kiersten leaves UNC for an intensive, inpatient rehabilitation program. Kiersten’s doctors have told us to expect to be in Charlotte at least three weeks, but determined as ever, Kiersten insists she’ll complete the program in two. That’s our girl!

As we prepare for next steps, we want to express how grateful we are to everyone at UNC. We’ve had up and down days, but we can’t say enough about how well we’ve been cared for as an entire family. We arrived at UNC shell shocked and bewildered but leave Chapel Hill strong and optimistic about what lies ahead.

We also want to thank the public yet again for their prayers and support of our family during this difficult time. This experience, though traumatic, has shown us the true kindness and generosity of the human spirit. Having friends and strangers alike rally behind Kiersten has made the experience easier and is something we will never forget!

We are still not ready to talk about our experience publicly but will continue to update our Kiersten Yow Support page on Facebook for those interested in following our journey.

In addition to Kiersten’s family, emergency officials and the New Hanover Regional Medical Center surgeon who operated on Treschl and Yow have said beach bystanders–and their quick responses–saved both shark-bite victims’ lives.

“The bystanders saved those kids lives,” Brunswick County Emergency Services Director Brian Watts said. “There is no doubt.”

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Caroline Curran is the managing editor of Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6336 or caroline.c@portcitydaily.com. On Twitter: @cgcurran