A Filipino father visiting family in Melbourne has had both his legs amputated after being bitten by a spider in a suburban garden.
Now his family have made a desperate appeal for help, as it is likely he will also lose both of his arms.
Terry Pareja, aged 65, was in his sister Raquel Ogledy’s back yard last month, when he was bitten on his right leg by what is believed to have been a white tailed spider — which is not usually considered to be particularly serious.
However, the next day it become very painful and, after the pain increased over the next 24 hours, his 68-year-old sister took him to a local doctor.
Seeing the seriousness of the situation, the medic sent him by ambulance to Victoria’s Horsham Hospital, about an hour away.
There, he immediately went under the knife to amputate his right leg to prevent the spread of infection — believed to be either necrotising arachnidism or necrotising fasciitis set off by the spider bite.
After the operation he was airlifted to the bigger Alfred Hospital in Melbourne where — because the infection continued to spread — he had his other leg amputated.
Weeks on, he remains critically ill in an intensive care unit.
Having already undergone nine operations, he might also need to have his arms amputated, as the infection continues to ravage his body.
His 27-year-old daughter, Jeffmarey Pareja, who works in publishing, has flown from the family home in Cebu City to look after him.
Terry’s wife, Emma, also has health problems and Jeffmarey’s brother, Jeffrey, does not have a passport, meaning neither could travel to be by his bedside.
Jeffmarey, who is expecting her third child, said: “My dad went to Australia to visit my aunt and uncle for they have not seen each other for the longest time.
“A spider bit him, but he really wasn’t aware, not until he felt sick. But then a few hours later, his foot began to hurt and then swell.”
“Now he is in intensive care. His kidneys don’t work and he is aided by kidney support. He is not fully coherent and is struggling a lot. He is in a great deal of pain.
“We don’t believe his illness is caused from any poison released by the spider, as the spider’s venom isn’t poisonous to humans, but rather by bacteria passed in via the wound.
“It’s so shocking as you don’t expect this to happen on a family visit.”
Unfortunately, Terry travelled without insurance and hospital bills are mounting up.
Family members are scraping together all the cash they can lay hand to, and his sister is planning to sell her Melbourne home.
Jeffmarey has also set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise 30,000 Australian dollars — which would cover just some of the treatment so far.
She said: “We do not have much and we are not rich. I am knocking on your hearts to help with my dad’s medication and hospital bills.”
Her crowdfunding page can be found here.