The woman mauled by a shark in Sydney Harbour is enduring fresh agony tonight after a ‘sensitive’ photo of her in hospital was leaked.
Lauren O’Neill, 29, lost litres of blood – and nearly her entire leg – after the bull shark ripped open her flesh below the knee and bit through to the bone on Monday evening.
Her limb was saved by a team of expert surgeons at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney’s CBD who operated on her multiple times throughout Monday night into Tuesday morning – and she’s now expected to make a full recovery.
However, a photograph is now circulating on WhatsApp showing a large wound on Ms O’Neill’s lower leg.
The image – which Daily Mail Australia will not publish – shows a medic holding her foot.
Ms O’Neill’s bandages appear to have been removed and her painted red toenails are visible.
Lauren O’Neill, 29, lost litres of blood after the shark ripped open her leg below the knee and bit through to the bone. Ms O’Neill is pictured on a stretcher
Lauren O’Neill (pictured) who was mauled by a bull shark in a shocking attack in Sydney Harbour
St Vincent’s Hospital said an investigation into how the image became public has been launched.
‘St Vincent’s has become aware of photos in the public domain that appear to have been taken in the Emergency Department and are related to those of a patient injury,’ hospital spokesman David Faktor said.
‘St Vincent’s takes patient privacy obligations extremely seriously and is investigating this issue as a matter of priority.
‘We have sincerely apologised for any part St Vincent’s played in the photos being taken.’
It’s not clear how the photo came to be leaked, but multiple hospital staff and police officers in the hospital’s emergency department when Ms O’Neill arrived.
Earlier on Wednesday, the hospital released a statement on Ms O’Neill’s behalf, revealing she had been taking a ‘short dip close to shore’ when the horrifying attack took place.
There were fears she might lose her leg but doctors now believe she will make a ‘full recovery’.
Ms O’Neill thanked her heroic neighbours for rushing to her rescue, including vet Dr Fiona Cargo, who stemmed the blood flow until paramedics arrived.
Ms O’Neill said she ‘wishes to thank the heroic and very kind neighbours for the critical assistance provided’.
She was also ‘immensely grateful to the NSW Ambulance paramedics and Kings Cross Police for their swift and caring actions at the scene’.
Ms O’Neill, who works for the NSW government in the Department of Climate Change, highlighted the care of ‘clinicians at St Vincent’s Hospital, particularly the specialist surgical teams who worked through the night’.
She also thanked her ‘beautiful family, friends and colleagues for their unflinching care and support’.
The keen kayaker and swimmer is now focusing on her recovery and thanked the public for their ‘outpouring of support and kindness.’
Emergency services rushed to a private wharf in in Elizabeth Bay at 7.45pm on Monday to find Ms O’Neill with a severe bite to her right leg and suffering ‘major blood loss’.
Ms O’Neill was attacked near a jetty in Elizabeth Bay in Sydney Harbour (map pictured)
Dr Fiona Crago (right), her wife Georgia (left) and their neighbours gave first aid to Ms O’Neill until emergency services arrived
But before that, vet Dr Crago and her wife Georgia, who live in a nearby apartment, ran to help after hearing repeated screams of ‘shark attack!’.
‘She was severely mauled on her right leg and she was losing a lot of blood,’ Dr Crago told Channel 10.
‘Neighbours had already started to render first aid to her. We had quite a few people that were so helpful.
‘People were throwing down towels and blankets to keep her warm but I just focused on what I had to do, which was to stem the blood flow and bandage the leg as best I can with what I had and just stabilise it. And then put a tourniquet on.’
Dr Crago, whose actions saved Ms O’Neill’s life, said she normally carried bandages due to her work but in recent days did not have the usual amount to hand as she had swapped cars.
Emergency services rushed to Elizabeth Bay at 7.45pm on Monday to find Ms O’Neill with a severe bite to her leg and suffering ‘major blood loss’. A blood-stained boardwalk is pictured at the scene
‘But as a strange coincidence, my wife had actually gone up the road and bought two new compression bandages yesterday for another purpose, so I knew exactly where they were and just grabbed them, so it was quite lucky,’ she said.
Her wife Georgia, who was interviewed on Monday night in the aftermath of the attack, said the victim had suffered a broken bone.
‘If she got bitten (further) out there, she wouldn’t have survived,’ Georgia said.
A friend of the couple said Ms O’Neill owes them her life.
‘Fiona knew what she was doing tonight if it wasn’t for her and her wife Georgia the poor victim would have died,’ the friend told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I’m so so proud of them, their deserve an award. That girl got lucky tonight having them home.’
Ms O’Neill’s mother Petra thanked Ms Crago, whose quick action and medical knowledge saved her daughter’s life.
‘It means a lot that the community was there at the critical moment to render assistance, in particular the vet…’ Mrs O’Neill wrote online.
‘(It) shows what a lovely community you are.’
But Ms Crago refused to accept plaudits.
‘I’m in no way heroic, I just did my job and I just did what I was trained to do,’ she said.
Ms O’Neill was taken by ambulance to St Vincent’s hospital where she remains in a stable condition. She is expected to have surgery today.
Elizabeth Bay resident Michael Porter, who rang triple zero, also praised Ms Crago.
‘She was an absolute hero… and I think she saved her life,’ he told the Today Show.
‘She had wraps and tourniquets and just got straight into emergency mode, and we were all just sort of there together as a team.’
Mr Porter said Ms O’Neill was swimming outside a ‘netted harbour pool,’ and was ‘swimming around the boats’.
‘Her leg was sort of trailing behind her, and the water behind her was all red with blood.
One resident said there was ‘blood everywhere’ (pictured: Ms O’Neill on the wharf)
He added despite being in a ‘complete state of shock’ from the trauma of the attack, Ms O’Neill was ‘very lucid’.
‘People were holding her hand and helping her and she was extremely brave the whole time,’ he said.
‘She had serious bleeding. Her injuries are severe,’ a NSW Ambulance spokesman told Daily Mail Australia on Monday night.
Ms O’Neill studied science at the University of Sydney and works for the NSW government in the Department of Climate Change.
She has volunteered for a range of charities and organisations from 2012, when she was 15.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Ms O’Neill has given her time to the SES, the Fred Hollows Foundation, Pink Ribbon Day, Daffodil Day, and Spinal Cord Injury Australia.
She has served meals for the homeless, helped create a map of wheelchair-accessible public toilets, and walked foster dogs.