Brown Recluse Spider Bites Man in His Sleep Causing Him to Almost Lose an Arm

A French man has dodged the amputation of his arm after being bitten by a spider in his sleep.

Patrice Genet, from Saint-Nicolas de Port, in the Lorraine region of eastern France, suffered a bite from a brown recluse type of spider in early June while he was sleeping.

The 60-year-old man told a local news website, Lorraine Actu, that as soon as he woke up he suffered unbearable pain from the bite.

"I got up with a kind of prick on my left arm. My hand continued to swell throughout the day," he said.

Two days after going to his local doctor and being prescribed antibiotics, the situation in his arm got much worse, Genet said, so he went to a local hospital.

He was told that he could not be operated on at the hospital, even though his situation was very serious, and had to be transferred urgently to another medical facility.

Supported by local firefighters, Genet was taken to the Emile Gallé clinic in Nancy which specialises in hand surgery.

brown recluse spider
The brown recluse spider, Loxosceles reclusa. Though death due to a brown recluse bite is rare, there is often tissue damage at the wound site. A man in France nearly had his arm amputated after being bitten by such a spider. Smith Collection/Getty Images

Once there, a surgeon told the man that it was necessary to operate on his hand urgently. "I was told that I had 48 hours left before being amputated", Genet recalled.

The patient had two operations for his hand and was hospitalised for a month without any visitors, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The condition of his hand had deteriorated so much that he had to have a skin transplant.

"I had skin removed from my stomach for my hand. Flesh and skins were extracted from the abdomen. To make it a success, my hand was tied to my stomach for several days," Genet explained.

Until a few days ago, it was still difficult for Genet to move his hand as he only regained motor skills recently. The Nancy clinic has scheduled a further operation for him in the new year.

He said he has not found the small culprit: "I did not find her in the house. My wife searched everywhere and applied insecticide."

"If she had stung me in the face, I might not be here anymore," he said, adding that even though he was very scared for his wife, he is now doing fine.

With several weeks of treatment and operations ahead of him, Genet said: "We will be more careful, we have equipped ourselves with insecticides!"