Matthew Mitchell was given 12 vials of antivenene. Photo: supplied
Matthew Mitchell was given 12 vials of antivenene. Photo: supplied News Corp Australia

Boy, 10, given 12 vials of antivenene after funnel-web bite

A TEN-year-old boy has miraculously survived a deadly funnel-web bite after he was given 12 vials of antivenene, understood to be the most administered to any survivor in Australian history.

After racing motorbikes at the weekend, Matthew Mitchell was helping his dad clean up the back shed of their Berkeley Vale property on Monday night when he was bitten on the finger.

"Both his mother and I (were) within a few metres of him," dad Darren Mitchell said.

"Long story short, he was getting roused on a bit to put his shoes away and he had some tissues stuffed in them because they were a pair his cousin gave him and they were a bit big."

The youngster put his hand in to pull out the tissue and was immediately bitten on the finger.

"It sort of clawed onto me and all the legs and everything crawled around my finger and I couldn't get it off," the youngster said.

He eventually managed to flick the arachnid off with his other hand but not before letting out a "yelp", his dad added.

"Apparently they are quite a nasty bite - I'm not going to test it out myself," Mr Mitchell said. "It landed a few feet away from me so I knew exactly what it was."

Mr Mitchell, his wife Shelly and Matthew's older sister Natasha Ell piled into their car and headed to the nearby doctor's clinic but it was shut so they went straight to the after-hours chemist at Killarney Vale.

They had taken his T-shirt off him and used it as a compression bandage with Natasha, 17, calling 000 from the car about 6pm.

At the chemist Mr Mitchell said they laid his son down and wrapped his arm in a compression bandage with paramedics on the scene "straight away".

The Year 6 student from Brooke Avenue Public School was rushed to Gosford Hospital where he received 12 vials of antivenene, believed to be more than any other survivor in living memory and three times more than that given to Josh Reynolds, 33, of Newcastle.

The father-of-two suffered the "worst bite ever seen" when a funnel-web's fangs sunk into his neck after putting a work shirt on that had been airing on a back deck in February 2015 and "died" several times in the back of the ambulance until he made it to John Hunter Hospital where he was given four vials.

Mr Mitchell said the family agreed to share Matthew's remarkable near-death experience in an effort "to spread the message" about always checking shoes, gardening gloves and washing left out overnight for spiders before putting them on.

He also wanted to thank the "speedy response" from the chemist staff, paramedics Susan Donnelly and Daniel McClelland and all the doctors and nurses who saved his son's life.

"He went from pain in his figure until getting the tingling up his arm ... but he stayed conscious the whole time," Mr Mitchell said.

"It was the quick response from here, to the chemist and from there to hospital that saved him."

It wasn't until Matthew got to hospital did his eyes dilate, he began sweating and frothing from the mouth and went into seizures.

While his older sister Natasha was on the phone to 000, her boyfriend stayed behind to catch the spider, which he later brought up to the hospital for identification.

The funnel-web was caught and later taken to the Australian Reptile Park. Picture: Mark Scott
The funnel-web was caught and later taken to the Australian Reptile Park. Picture: Mark Scott News Corp Australia

The spider was then taken to the Australian Reptile Park.

General manager Tim Faulkner said Matthew was "as lucky as they get".

He said the zoo would invite him up to the park when he was well enough to receive a "Spiderman bravery award" after becoming a member of an exclusive club - a funnel-web survivor - that no one willingly wants to join.

February and March is the peak breeding season and Mr Faulkner said recent rains followed by hot days were driving males - five times more venomous than females - out in force.

The park is the only zoo in Australia that milks funnel webs for the Commonwealth Serum Laboratory's antivenene program and Mr Faulkner said their funnel-web stocks were critically low.

In a happy twist, the spider which bit Matthew will become part of the park's milking program from next week with its venom, one day, possibly going to save the life of another little boy.

News Corp Australia

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