Friends of shark attack survivor Brett Connellan have gathered at his bedside to wish him a happy birthday ahead of a marathon surgery.
The Kiama Downs surfer returned to theatre on Sunday, according to colleagues from area creatives collective, Local Artist Division.
“Bretty went into surgery today, an 8 or 9 hour surgery, on his birthday (of all days),” a post to the group’s website said. “Reports from the doctors are the surgery went well. But it's the outcome that we all need stay positive for and send out our super happy, shaka vibes for.”
On Friday, relatives reported Mr Connellan had a strong pulse in his foot and his hand injury had been assessed by doctors as looking “promising”.
That night, Mr Connellan took to social media himself to thank his large league of supporters.
“I can say I'm honestly so humbled and taken back by the support of so many of my friends, family and strangers at this time,” he wrote, on Facebook.
“While I may not get the chance to reply to everyone, I want you all to know that your kind words and support means the world to me and I love you all! Thank you so many times over!”
Mr Connellan had a large chunk of his thigh torn off in an attack at Bombo Beach about 7pm Wednesday. His left hand was also bitten in the shock encounter, before a friend helped him ashore and – with others – applied life-saving first aid.
His condition has now been downgraded to stable.
A group of long-time friends and relatives were at his bedside on Saturday.
“He's keeping positive and his condition is stable still with his hand looking good,” they wrote online.
“The support has been fantastic today and we would like to thank everyone for being so supportive, generous and sending all the good vibes none of which has gone unnoticed.”
A fundraiser event for the popular Jones Beach Boardriders member is in planning.
Meantime, cash donations are being collected at DP Surfboards in Thirroul, where Mr Connellan works as a manager, and via a trust fund set up in his name.
Dylan Perese, of DP Surfboards, said he had been overwhelmed by well-wishers in the days since the attack.
“We’ve had people who have only had brief conversations with [Mr Connellan] – bought a block off wax off him – come in and donate huge amounts of money.”
He said Mr Connellan was “in good spirits”.
“We all just want to get him back on his board, because that’s what he lives for.”
Use BSB 012709 and account number 298964661 to donate to the Brett Connellan Trust