A British mum was just hours from death after a bite from a ‘false widow’ spider which led to her finger being amputated – and left her unable to work as a hairdresser.
Andrea Wallace, 44, was bitten when she rolled into long grass in County Durham as she played with her son Shay.
After two hours, fang marks appeared on her hand. It doubled in size and started oozing black pus, and a red line spread up her side as poison travelled towards her heart.
She said: ‘The pain was horrific. I have given birth to four boys and this pain was way worse.
My finger was cracking open and had went a dark grey colour as though it was dead. I could not believe a spider had done this to me.’
Doctors told Walllace she had contracted the flesh-eating disease necrotising fasciitis from the spider’s mandibles.
Medical staff said that if she had waited any longer before travelling to A&E the infection would have reached her heart and killed her.
Wallace spent ten weeks in hospital and had 14 operations to remove the poison, transplant skin onto the area, and finally amputate.
Wallace said, ‘When I found out it was a spider bite I couldn’t believe it. I was gobsmacked.
‘I had never seen the spider or felt it at the time. But somehow it had passed the flesh eating germ on to me and it was eating away at my skin.’
Wallace was told there was a chance she could die or lose her hand.
After attempts to rebuild her finger with skin from her leg failed, doctors told Wallace her finger would have to be amputated.
Wallace, who is mum to Lewis, 23, Jay, 16, Shay, 10 and Kale, four, said: ‘I am not the kind to feel sorry for myself. It was not until one day after the operation that I finally compared my two hands and broke down in tears.’
Andrea, who is now missing her index finger and has lost 20% of the grip in her left hand, is unable to return to her job as a hairdresser.
She said: ‘Losing a finger is a small price to pay when you think of what could have happened to me. Now I drum it in to my children to stay away from spiders.’