SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Sarasota man spent three days lost in a swamp after losing his arm in a gator attack.

Eric Merda said he spent three days lost in Lake Manatee after losing his arm to a gator.  Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) said there have been 22 reported gator bites so far this year.

Forty-three-year-old Merda says he was reborn on July 17.

“I came out the swamp naked with one arm I was reborn for a reason and I believe that is to motivate people,” Merda said.

Merda was visiting Lake Manatee when he ended up too far into the woods. He eventually found the lake and began to swim.

“The alligator took off with most of my arm I was out down to my elbow, little bit more maybe a little bit more,” Merda said. 

For three long days, Merda was lost in the swamp, without his right arm.

“With a bone poking out a lot of pain the whole three days I was screaming at the top of my lungs,” Merda said. 

He then found his way out.

“There’s no way that this is real my arm is gone laughs I don’t have an arm anymore there’s no way I have to be dreaming or something,” Merda said. 

Doctors had to amputate what was left of his bone.

“I was given the opportunity to live and I had a choice to make,” Merda said. 

Merda said that choice will now be used to inspire and motivate others.

FWC said one day after Merda was found, a contracted nuisance alligator trapper removed a 6-foot and 9-foot gator from the lake.