A WOMAN told last night how she nearly died after being bitten by a HOUSE SPIDER — in her suburban UK home.
The creature, normally harmless, nipped Natalie Hemme, 31, as she lay in bed. Her arm swelled, stopping the blood flow and turning the limb septic.
She said in Wallington, Surrey: “It was agony. I was lucky to survive. You’d expect it in Australia — but not in Surrey.”
Natalie looked like a car smash victim after developing Compartment Syndrome from her bite.
It is a gruesome-looking condition in which swelling cuts off the blood flow, causing muscle and flesh to die.
Surgeons planned to amputate Natalie’s arm after it turned septic, putting her life at risk. They just managed to save it in five operations.
Natalie said: “I was in such pain when they told me I needed my arm amputated that I didn’t even care. It was agony and I know I have been very lucky to survive and keep my arm.
“I can’t believe all this happened over a spider bite.”
Civil servant Natalie’s ordeal began in February, when she awoke in her suburban terraced home with a tiny red bite on her left wrist.
Over the next 48 hours her arm started to swell and throb.
Natalie said: “I went to an NHS clinic. They said it was most likely a spider bite. They gave me antibiotics and told me to take paracetamol.”
But two days later, her husband Michael, 35, called an ambulance when she began vomiting green pus and struggling to stand. Doctors said her muscles and nerves were dying and turning septic. She was treated with antibiotics but was warned she would still probably lose her arm.
Natalie said: “By now it looked like a balloon. I honestly thought I was going to die.”
Surgeons spent three days stripping away infected tissue. Then they rebuilt the arm with flesh from her thigh.
She was in hospital for three weeks but after physiotherapy is back at work. Natalie said: “I’m scarred — but I never expected to come back from the operating theatre with my arm.
“In this country we don’t worry about insect or spider bites — but I want to warn what can happen. I now sleep with my window shut and check the bed before getting in.”
EXPERT Matt Shardlow, of conservation charity Buglife, said: “There are a lot of spiders in Britain and most of them would never bite people.
“The house spider does have fangs big enough to penetrate human skin. But they’re not known to attack people, even though they have the potential.
“Bites are extraordinarily rare and won’t often cause more than tingling.”