Tiffany Johnson, 32, was snorkeling off Athol Island, Bahamas on 2 June 2017 when what is thought to be a tiger shark bit off her right arm below the elbow.
Her husband James had swum back to the boat 10 minutes earlier.
“I just stayed out for a little bit longer because there was a part of the reef I hadn’t seen yet,” she was quoted as saying.
“I was just floating there for the most part. I wasn’t moving my arms and legs very much, because I didn’t want to disturb the fish.
“I didn’t feel any pain. I just felt like I had run into something. I thought I had bumped into something.
“I causally looked to the right and I was face to face with a shark, and he had my arm in his mouth.
“He didn’t struggle at first. He was just kind of sitting there with my arm in his mouth, almost as if he was waiting for me to do something. It was very strange.
“It registered what was going on, so I went to pull my arm back and that’s when the struggle began.
“We struggled for some time, it wasn’t very long, and then I was able to break free because he had taken my arm.”
She threw off her snorkeling gear and screamed for help. Her husband jumped in the water and swam to his wife and met her when she was about halfway back to the boat.
James said: “I looked over there and I just saw blood all over in the water, all around her. She’s saying, ‘help me, help me, Jesus,’ and she’s praying as she’s swimming back with one hand. Her other hand raised above the water. It was just unreal. My biggest concern was to get her back to the boat, hoping and just praying the shark wasn’t following us.”
Once on board the boat they wrapped her severed arm in a towel to stem the bleeding.
It wasn’t until they reached an ambulance that she felt pain. At that point, the pain was excruciating.
The crew rushed her to a local hospital in the Bahamas where doctors performed initial surgery to try to save as much of her arm as possible.
The couple were then flown to Charlotte, North Carolina, US, where Tiffany had further surgery at Carolinas Medical Center.