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Mum battles agonising injuries eight years after redback spider bite

WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT: A woman has revealed the horrific pain she is living in after being bitten by a redback spider eight years ago.

Jenna Allen, from Edenhope in Victoria, was bitten on her forearm as she was rifling through a shoebox on her deck in 2014.

“Suddenly I felt a stinging sensation on my left forearm and a black speck crawling up it. Thinking it was a bug, I brushed it off,” the 28-year-old mother of two told That’s Life magazine.

Jenny Allen wears a bandage around her forearm after a spider bite.
Jenny Allen is still in agonising pain eight years after a spider bite. Source: Facebook/Jenny Allen

“But as my arm began to pulse with pain, a strange sickly feeling took hold of my entire body.”

Immediately a long, raised bump appeared on her arm and Jenna felt sharp pains in her stomach and developed a throbbing headache. She called out to her dad for help and scanned the deck, looking for the insect. That’s when she saw the redback spider.

Redback spider venom acts directly on the nerves, according to the University of Melbourne’s School of Biomedical Sciences. A redback’s bite can be fatal, however no deaths have been recorded in Australia since 1955 – a year before the antivenom was introduced.

Jenna was rushed to a hospital an hour away where she received two doses of antivenom – but in the days that followed she was told the wound had become necrotic and an infection was “eating away” at her skin.

A skin graft from her thigh initially seemed to work and Jenna’s life returned to normal, but a year later she noticed something on her arm that made her heart sink.

Jenny Allen's arm is red and covered in weeping ulcers
Jenny suffered painful ulcers on her arm as her body began rejecting the skin graft. Source: Facebook/Jenny Allen

Wound gets worse, treatment costs $1300 a week

A series of bumps resembling mosquito bites had spread over the skin graft, which soon turned green and developed into painful weeping ulcers.

Doctors would dress the wound with specialist bandages, costing Jenna an eye-watering $1300 a week as it wasn’t covered under Medicare.

Two years after the spider bite, a new doctor found she had chronic ulceration and believed the venom may have triggered an immune response and caused her body to reject the skin graft.

Jenna spent three months in hospital where nurses from the burns unit changed her dressings. But the pain was so severe she would need local anaesthetic for each treatment and suffered convulsions at times.

Close-up of an Australian redback spider (Latrodectus hasseltii) on the lid of a compost bin.
A redback spider bite changed Jenny Allen's life. Source: Getty/File (Getty Images)

Doctors discover precancerous cells

In 2020, doctors discovered precancerous cells around the spider bite and said if the wound continued to spread Jenna may need an amputation.

Now, the mum is forced to do a seven-hour round trip once a fortnight to see doctors who are monitoring her wound.

"The mental and physical toll the wound has had on not just me, but my family, is exhausting,” she said, saying that simply putting her daughter in her pram was “agonisingly painful”.

Jenna credits her partner as her “rock” through the ordeal and says she tries to remain positive despite the constant suffering.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family to help cover the cost of Jenna’s dressings and medical treatment.

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