The last time Glenn Orgias surfed at Bondi Beach he was attacked by a great white shark in a savage mauling which left him without a left hand.
Last week the energy trader returned to the iconic waters off Sydney on Australia’s east coast and, despite initial trepidation, was ecstatic to be back in the water.
“I have to admit to a few nerves and fear before I went in,” Mr Orgias told The Times of his first surf in four months.
“But as we got down to the beach and went through the process of getting into a wetsuit and talking about the waves I started to get excited about it and felt happy to be back there. As soon as I was surfing in the water I felt fine, it was fantastic.”
The 34-year-old was mauled by a 2.7m (8ft) great white as he went for an early evening surf in February. It was the first shark attack at Bondi Beach in nearly 80 years and was one of a spate of shark attacks in Australia last summer.
The day before Mr Orgias was attacked, Navy diver Paul de Gelder was mauled by a bull shark while participating in an anti-terrorism exercise in Sydney harbour. He lost his right hand and right leg.
Mr Orgias’ attack was so savage doctors had to amputate his left hand, after it was almost severed by the shark.
Mr Orgias, who has surfed regularly for years and returned to the water again on Monday morning, said his amputation meant he had to re-learn how to surf.
“It was a totally different way of surfing,” he said. “I felt like a was a ten- year-old kid learning all over again. It’s definitely a new technique, a new way of learning how to do things, but its fun, I enjoy it.”
Doctors said getting back in the water would be good for Mr Orgias’ rehabilitation.
“They were always really supportive, encouraging me to do some exercises and things that use my arm,” he said. “So it was good for my rehab both physically and mentally because I just love being in the water.”
Mr Orgias spent six weeks in intensive care at St Vincent’s Hospital and another three recuperating at home from the attack, which caused headlines around the world.He said the attention was overwhelming.
“All the attention has been on the shark attack and what happened with the shark,” he said. “But what we’re trying to focus on now is how lucky I am to be alive and to have the opportunity to go surfing again. And that’s because of all the people who donated blood.”
During his hospital treatment doctors performed 18 hours of microsurgery and had to use 150 donations (approximately 45 litres, or 95 pints) of blood.
“I used a lot of blood and some of it saved my life because I lost a lot of blood in the water and some in the treatment of my hand,” he said.
As a result, Mr Orgias is grateful to blood donors and has now adopted blood donation as a cause and become an ambassador for the Australian Red Cross.
Next month he plans to participate in the City to Surf fun run – an annual charity event in which thousands of participants race 14km (8.5 miles) from the Sydney CBD to Bondi Beach.
Mr Orgias plans to run with a group to raise awareness of blood donations and, rather than money, aims to get 5,000 pledges from people to donate blood through his website: www.runningonblood.com.
As for sharks, he said he harbours no grudges.
“I’ve got nothing against sharks, they are fine,” Mr Orgias said.
“It was a freak accident. Humans aren’t its normal food source, and the one that bit me knew that it got it wrong straight away and let go.
“I don’t harbour any animosity against them at all.”