Spider bite costs woman $1 million to treat

Brown Recluse

A spider bite can definitely get serious as one woman, Jane Heffernan, spent four years and $1 million recovering from a bite she received in 2008. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Some of the most innocuous things can end up being nearly catastrophic. For instance, a graduate of Vanderbilt law school, Jane Hefferan, has gone through 20 surgeries and saddled with a $1 million tab for a spider bite.

Brown recluse spider bite takes four years, $1m to recover from

No tuffets, curds or whey, whatever those things are, were involved in what brought Jane Hefferan to national attention. A spider definitely was, though. In 2008, according to the Daily Mail, Hefferan had just graduated from law school at Vanderbilt University. One night, she crawled under the covers to go to sleep, when along came a spider, a brown recluse, laid down beside her and gave her a bite on the left knee.

The spider bite started to swell up and Hefferan’s physical therapist urged her to see a doctor. The wound turned necrotic, meaning the tissue around the bite began to die, resulting in Hefferan needing surgery to excise the tissue. She later developed pyoderma gangrenosum, an auto-immune disease, which causes ulcers and sores on the skin.

Four years of treatment without insurance

Her health insurance lapsed 20 days after her initial consultation. Since then, she has undergone 20 different surgeries, including three skin grafts of which two were unsuccessful and 50 blood transfusions. Tissue around her left knee was cut away to the bone.

Her leg was saved and friends raised money for her treatment for complications from the spider bite as well as donating blood, as oozing sores and the wound itself resulted in Hefferan losing a lot of blood. Frequent stays in the hospital were costly, as a few individual stints cost upward of $400,000 alone. Four years, 20 surgeries and $1 million, all down to a spider bite.

No joke

Most spider bites are innocuous and do much more than hurt. In fact, brown recluse spider bites are mostly harmless. According to ABC, about 90 percent amount to little more than a red bump. However,  the remaining few can cause devastation.

In 2010, Victoria Franklin of Seattle, Wash., according to ABC, was bitten by a brown recluse on her left breast, eventually resulting in a mastectomy and Franklin being in a coma for 11 days. She didn’t have insurance and was left with hundreds of thousands in debt.

The Hillsboro Free Press, of Hillsboro, Kan., recently printed an article about Roger Ashley, an area man who was bitten by a brown recluse in August. The spider had hidden inside one of his steel-toe boots and bit him while he was chopping firewood. Ashley was told by his doctors that he won’t be able to return to work until at least 2013.

Even relatively famous people can get hit with a spider bite. Jeff Hanneman, guitarist for legendary thrash metal band Slayer has been sidelined since 2011 due to a spider bite, according to the Guardian. After being bitten, he developed necrotizing fasciitis, dying skin, along his arm, requiring surgeries to avoid amputation and several days in a medically induced coma.Luckily, another guitarist, Gary Holt of the band Exodus, has been filling in on tours for him.

Sources

ABC

Daily Mail

ABC

Hillsboro Free Press: http://www.hillsborofreepress.com/news/front-page/18098164-recluse-spider-bite-created-a-health-threat-for-local-man.html

The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/may/02/slayer-jeff-hanneman

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