The Australian funnel-web spider is considered by some as the most deadly spider in the world. Its highly venomous bite is said to be quite painful and can be fatal without treatment.
Fortunately, the parents of Matthew Mitchell recognized the importance of getting their son immediate help after realizing he had been bitten by a funnel-web spider, as reported by the Central Coast Gosford Express Advocate.
The 10-year-old boy was helping his father, Darren, clean up Monday night after a weekend of racing motorbikes. He set a pair of shoes on the edge of the trailer where one of them fell to the ground.
"I picked it back up and put my hand in the shoe and it clawed onto my finger," Matthew told the Central Coast Gosford Express Advocate.
"It sort of clawed onto me and all the legs and everything crawled around my finger and I couldn't get it off."
He let out a "yelp" and eventually managed to flick it off with his other hand.
Darren Mitchell said the deadly spider landed a few feet from him "so I knew exactly what it was."
Darren and wife Shellie, along with an older daughter, rushed Matthew to a nearby clinic only to find it was closed. Next they went to a pharmacy and called for paramedics, who arrived right away, Darren said.
Matthew, with his arm in a compression bandage to help prevent the spread of the venom, was rushed to Gosford Hospital where his eyes began to dilate and he began sweating and frothing from the mouth. He also started to have seizures.
To combat the deadly toxins, Matthew was given the biggest dose of antivenom ever given: 12 vials worth.
The Mitchell family shared the story as a message to others to always check for spiders in shoes, gardening gloves and washing left out overnight.
Bites from the Australian funnel-web spider has resulted in 13 documented deaths, including seven children. But there have been no deaths since the introduction of the antivenom in 1982. Since then hospital treatments have been reduced from an average of 14 days to one to three days.
"I still can't believe how lucky we are to have him survive this horrific episode," Shellie wrote on Facebook. "I owe huge thanks and so much more to the amazing paramedics that came to our rescue and to all the doctors at the hospital that gave my son a second chance at life and fixed him up. And most importantly the reptile park!!! If it wasn't for them my son would not be here today. Matthew is amazing and I think I'm still in shock as to what's happened."
The Australian Reptile Park, which is the only zoo in Australia that milks funnel-web spiders for an antivenom program, replied, "This is why we do what we do!"
Matthew's older sister's boyfriend stayed behind to catch the deadly spider, which was taken to the Australian Reptile Park where it will be used in the program.
Matthew was "as lucky as they get," ARP general manager Tim Faulkner said.
"I feel our family has been given a miracle this week," Carol Madden, Matthew's grandmother, wrote on Facebook.