Recovering From A Shark Attack

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - December 03, 2008
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Friends of Todd Murashige are hosting a medical fundraiser Dec. 3

When you hear Todd Murashige speak, it is clear he has experienced a life-changing event. There is compassion in his voice and he often uses words like grateful, thankful and blessed. Something has altered his life’s path.

“I look at it as a blessing to have second chance,” says Murashige.

Murashige was given a second chance on life after a brush with death.

It was just before 5 in the evening on Sept. 10. Murashige was surfing about a half mile off Kaaawa at the surf spot known as Crouching Lion. The 40-year-old Murashige was sitting on his surfboard when a large tiger shark attacked. The powerful animal struck quickly and did massive damage.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams I would be bitten by a shark,” says Murashige. “In fact, I was always the least paranoid out of everyone. In the end, I was the one.”

Murashige was seriously injured but found the physical and spiritual strength to paddle to shore. He was taken to the Queen’s Medical Center in serious condition and underwent emergency surgery. Doctors believe he may have been bitten twice.

“For so long I was pretty selfish because every spare moment I had I went surfing,” he says humbly. “I always knew what I had in front of me, especially my family, but I was so obsessed with surfing I often pushed things aside. That’s changed.”

Murashige is an accomplished amateur surfer who has won many local events. His latest victory came in June when he won the senior men’s division of the Hawaii Amateur Surfing state championships at Ala Moana Bowls.

Competitions are a distant thought. Physical therapy dominates his days and energy.

“I’m getting better every day,” he says. “Now I can walk and I’m getting my flexibility back. I hope to be back working by January.”

Injuries have prevented him from returning to his physically demanding job as a self-employed tile setter. For now, his wife’s teacher salary is providing for their two children. Heather’s colleagues at Salt Lake Elementary School have been very supportive, but medical bills continue to mount.

“I hope to make a full recovery, but right now I feel some dead spots in my leg,” he says. “I get that numb feeling, but I know it could have been deadly.”

Friends and family members are rallying to show their support with a fundraiser at The Willows restaurant on Wednesday, Dec. 3. The public is invited.

“We turned it down so many times, but friends and family members said we want to do this for your family,” Murashige says quietly. “I’m grateful for the support, especially in these tough economic times. So many families are getting cracks financially, and to hear the response we’re getting is overwhelming. We are blessed.”

Murashige embraces his time with his family and recently returned to the ocean with them.

“I went back to Kaaawa Beach Park to watch my kids play,” he recalls. “My friend was diving for tako and called me to look at one he spotted just offshore. When I entered the ocean it felt so good. I kicked and splashed, and I wasn’t uncomfortable. I’ve been back to the ocean twice.”

Murashige’s road to wellness is far from complete, but he is confident he will make a full recovery. And although he hopes to return to the lineup someday, he knows there is more to life than catching a wave.

“I know I used up all my passes,” he says with a laugh. “If I get back into surfing that would be great. If not, I accept it. I’m just grateful to be alive.”

Life-changing events will do that to you.

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