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Physical fitness may have saved woman from shark attack, doctor says

Physical fitness may have saved woman from shark attack, doctor says
Maria Korcsmaros, 52, of Corona is a personal trainer and aerobics instructor who was training for an Ironman competition when she was bitten by a shark while swimming off Corona del Mar State Beach on Sunday afternoon. (Orange County Global Medical Center)

The woman attacked by a shark over the Memorial Day weekend off Newport Beach arrived at a local hospital with severe bite wounds on her body, a hospital official said.

Maria Korcsmaros, a 52-year-old personal trainer and aerobics instructor from Corona, later told doctors that the attack was "very sudden" and that she felt something hit her, according to Philip Rotter, director of orthopedic trauma surgery at Orange County Global Medical Center.

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Thirty minutes after she was pulled from the chilly ocean, Korcsmaros arrived at the hospital, where a team of doctors began trying to stabilize her vital signs before taking her into surgery.

Korcsmaros had multiple tooth marks on her right side, extending from her shoulder area in a semicircular pattern to her lower pelvis. She also had lacerations on her right arm, an open chest wound and multiple rib fractures and had lost about a liter of blood, doctors said.

"We're a trauma center, we see trauma every day, but I haven't seen this type of trauma," Rotter said of the wounds.

We're a trauma center, we see trauma every day, but I haven't seen this type of trauma.


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Rotter, one of several doctors in the operating room during the more than three-hour surgery, said Korcsmaros was "remarkably calm" when she arrived.

Doctors said they looked for teeth left behind by the shark but didn't find any.

Korcsmaros is recovering at the hospital and taking antibiotics to help stave off any infection.

Rotter said it was too early to know whether she'll have use of her arm.

Korcsmaros, a mother of three, is a seasoned athlete who has competed in various triathlons, including an Ironman competition in 2008. Her husband, Alex, was reportedly on the beach when the attack occurred, according to Williams.

Doctors credited her level of physical fitness for her ability to survive the attack.

"She had significant open wounds on her upper body and on her pelvis," Rotter said. "Those are wounds that would have bled a lot, and she was able to tread water and hold her own until help arrived. That's pretty remarkable."

Korcsmaros was swimming along the buoys about 150 yards offshore as part of her training for an Ironman competition scheduled for July in Canada when she was attacked about 4:15 p.m. Sunday.

Officials are not certain about the species of shark that bit Korcsmaros.

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However, Chris Lowe, head of the Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach, said Tuesday that based on the size of her wounds it was likely an adult great white measuring more than 10 feet long.

Fry writes for Times Community News.

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