An airline passenger feared he would lose his leg after suffering a venomous spider bite on a long-haul flight.
Commercial lawyer Jonathon Hogg alleges he was bitten by the deadly brown recluse spider during a 10-hour Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Cape Town in June this year.
Within days the 40-year-old said his leg resembled ‘something from a horror film’ as he frantically sought medical help.
Horrified doctors told the barrister he was within hours of losing his leg and possibly even his life before quickly rushing him into surgery.
Mr Hogg was forced to spend a month in the South African hospital and undergo three operations before he was eventually allowed to fly back to the UK, where he is still having regular medical treatment.
However despite providing details of his terrifying ordeal to the airline, Mr Hogg says the company refused to accept responsibility, forcing him to launch legal action.
Mr Hogg, from Camden, London, said: “The pain was like nothing I've been through in my life.
"By the time I got to hospital my leg was bursting open, there was pus, it was black. It was a right mess. They told me if I had been any later I would have lost my leg or even died. It was terrifying.
“What has made the situation even worse has been the attitude of the airline. They have made no attempt to resolve the issue and have basically said it was nothing to do with them.
“All this has left me very traumatised but determined to seek justice. No one should have to go through what I have and if the airline has made a mistake it should take responsibility.”
Mr Hogg’s ordeal began on June 7th this year when he boarded a flight from Doha to Cape Town.
He had just finished the first part of a five-month sabbatical at an orangutan sanctuary in Borneo and was travelling to Gansbaai, South Africa to begin a dream project diving with sharks.
Six hours into the 10-hour flight Mr Hogg notice a pain in his leg before seeing a spider racing across the floor but such was the subtly of the arachnid’s attack, the Oldham-born lawyer didn’t realise he had been bitten.
He said: “I was struggling to get comfortable during the journey and crossed my legs to get into a better position when I felt a small, sharp pain radiating in my left leg.
“I turned on the light and clearly saw a spider running across the floor before hearing two stewardesses screaming ‘spider’ but I wasn’t sure if I had been bitten as it really wasn’t very painful.”
Within two hours Mr Hogg noticed his leg had started to swell and by the time he arrived at his hotel he was becoming increasingly concerned about the bite.
He said: “When I arrived at the hotel I noticed my leg had ballooned and was deeply swollen with a dark bruise. I even showed those in the hotel reception to see what they thought it was.
“My initial concern was that I had developed deep vein thrombosis but after researching online I didn’t think it was that so I decided to take some pain killers and see how I felt the next day. “
Mr Hogg’s leg continued to deteriorate and on his second day of his two week placement he decided to show his colleagues to see if anyone had any idea what his condition could be.
He was left stunned when they told him he needed to seek urgent medical attention as the wound looked like a spider bite.
Mr Hogg was taken to the nearby Hermanus Mediclinic and was assessed by doctors who diagnosed his leg had been bitten by the venomous brown recluse spider.
The brown recluse spider, also known as the violin spider or the brown fiddler, has a venomous and potentially fatal bite. They are usually brown or grey in colour and between six to 20 millimetres in length.
Doctors rushed the lawyer into surgery for the first of three operations to save his leg – warning him that he would have lost his limb, and maybe his life, if he hadn’t sought medical treatment.
Mr Hogg was placed on antibiotics before doctors cut away a large are of his leg which was infected by necrotic venom. The stricken patient was stunned when he finally witnessed the damage the spider’s venom had caused.
He said: “I knew something was wrong but I had no idea how bad it was until I spoke with the surgeon. When he told me how close I had come to losing my leg I was stunned.
“It really hit home when they removed the bandages and I saw what was left of my leg – it resembled something from a horror film. They had been forced to cut away so much, I was devastated.
“However when I realised the extent of my injuries I realised I was just lucky to still have my leg – even if the sight of my leg shocked me when I finally saw it. “
Mr Hogg, who is also an amateur kickboxer, spent a month in hospital and underwent a skin graft before he was finally allowed to home but unfortunately he faced further complications.
He said: “When I returned home back I was still having problems with my leg and went to see a specialist who told me the skin graft hadn’t worked so I would need another operation.
“I’m now waiting to see if it takes but I worry that I may not be able to ever play football or take part in martial arts ever again, these areas were huge parts of my life.
“I now have a real fear of flying and I am in therapy to try and overcome it as much of my job involves overseas travel. The whole thing has been a nightmare.”
The Slater and Gordon Lawyer representing Mr Hogg, said: “Mr Hogg has suffered a harrowing experience after he was bitten by a very venomous spider. This situation could have been far worse with Mr Hogg narrowly avoiding losing his leg and perhaps even his life.
“Airlines have a responsibility to protect passengers from dangerous potential pests by properly fumigating all planes. We will now be investigating Mr Hogg’s claim to determine if there has been any wrongdoing by the airline.”