An American man claims to have built up an immunity to snake venom – and was so confident he allowed a deadly black mamba to bite him.
Tim Friede says he has built up a tolerance to the venom of some of the world’s most poisonous snakes – after subjecting himself to 100 bites and injections.
And he has now released pictures that show him taking – and surviving – a bite from a water cobra and insists he has done the same with one of the world’s most deadly snakes, the black mamba.
The venom from a black mamba would ordinarily kill anyone within 20 minutes but the 45-year-old shows hardly any ill effects and believes the ordeals he is putting himself through will help develop anti-venoms for the third-world.
The unemployed former factory worker said: “When people see what I do they usually swear or ask me if I’m going to die.
“The pictures are a display of my immunity, to prove it works.
“That’s the only way people will believe it, and the true test if self-immunization works.
“Letting yourself get bitten requires a very high level of mental pressure, albeit a necessary one to beat snakebite.
“Doing a pure venom injection is one thing, but a bite is a whole new level – and a necessary one.”
By proving his own immunity he hopes his work will lead to more efficient and affordable than the type produced from horses that is currently available.
“What I do is called venom immunotherapy,” Mr Friede said.
“I take diluted injections of venom protein over time to build up my immune system.
“What that does is build up good antibodies through time that bind to the venom and neutralize it so I don’t die.
“This is the same way they make anti-venom in horses, I just cut the horse out of the picture. I’ve become the horse.”
However, he does suffer side-effects, including anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can cause death through serious swelling and breathing difficulties.
The pictures show Friede’s swollen hand, which is caused by his own anti-bodies attacking his body.
Understandably he keeps a keen eye on his health and undergoes regular kidney and liver tests.
Where no anti-venom is available, the death rate for a black mamba bite is usually 100% – a problem that is increasingly prevalent in the third world.
He added: “I have a solid plan in place, and time will tell if this can come to fruition.
“I hope through developing my own resistance to poison some solid groundwork can be laid to build a vaccine for the 125,000 people that die from snake bites every year.
“At present the poor of Asia and Africa are the majority of the victims.”