A construction worker who claims he was bitten by a black widow spider on his penis has said he feared doctors would need to chop it off.
Fergus Farrelly, from Shercock in County Cavan, Ireland, woke up in pain on January 7 with a cyst the size of a marble on his member.
The 26-year-old went to hospital three days later when the swelling did not go down. The lump became golf ball-sized, turned purple and caused a ‘burning pain’.
He was prescribed a cocktail of drugs and spent four days in hospital after doctors reportedly found black widow venom in his blood tests.
Mr Farrelly worried he would lose his penis altogether after specialists said they had never seen anything like it before.
Black widows are one of the most poisonous spiders in the world but they are rarely found in Ireland or the UK. It is often mistaken for the far less dangerous false widow spider which is commonly found in the home nations.
The false widow is venomous but its bite is comparable to a wasp sting. In rare cases, the injury can become infected.
Fergus Farrelly, 26, from Shercock in County Cavan, Ireland, feared he would lose his penis after he was bitten by a black widow spider, he claims
Mr Farrelly said: ‘When I woke up and saw this lump, I had no idea what it was — but it got larger and larger as days passed.
‘After three days I went to A&E in so much pain — it felt like it was burning.
‘I couldn’t believe it when they found the venom of a black widow spider in my blood — I’d never even heard of one before.
‘I was in hospital for days on all kinds of drips after the giant lump burst — that was when I thought I would lose my penis altogether.
‘I’m all healed now and I do find it a wee bit funny — but also scary, I had no idea what damage spiders could do.’
Mr Farrelly had been staying at his mother’s house in Ulster, and when he woke up on January 7 he noticed a ‘marble-sized’ lump on his penis.
Confused, he initially dismissed it — but over the following days, the lump grew.
On the third day, his girlfriend Lyndsey Duffy, 21, urged him to visit A&E.
They went to Cavan General Hospital but doctors there insisted he would need to be seen by a specialist and was quickly transferred to the larger Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.
He said: ‘I had no idea what it was. When I first went to hospital, the doctors didn’t know either.
‘It was this constant burning pain and the lump kept getting bigger and bigger.’
To make matters worse, just hours after he arrived in A&E, the huge cyst burst — leaving a giant hole where it had once been.
With doctors reportedly struggling to work out what had caused the injury, he stayed in hospital where he was hooked up to an IV drip of antibiotics as they feared an infection.
Mr Farrelly said: ‘The doctors kept coming in and out for swabs and blood samples. I was lay there in bed — I couldn’t walk or move even, because of the pain.’
But it was not until several days had passed that doctors told him he had been bitten by the spider after blood tests came back, he said.
Mr Farrelly claims that his test samples contained venom from a black widow spider — a dangerous spider found worldwide.
While their venom is rarely fatal, a bite can cause muscle cramps and pain so intense it can be compared to appendicitis or a heart attack.
They are incredibly rare in the UK — unable to acclimatise to the colder, damper conditions — and false widows are often mistaken for them.
He rushed to A&E at Cavan General Hospital (pictured) but doctors there insisted he would need to be seen by a specialist – and was quickly transferred to the larger Beaumont Hospital in Dublin
Mr Farrelly said doctors told him how lucky he was that it burst while in hospital — and that he could have been one of the few people for whom a bite is deadly.
He said: ‘I got told I would probably have ended up dead if it hadn’t burst in the hospital because it would likely have got infected.
‘They said the venom could have spread and poisoned my blood system.’
But Mr Farrelly was treated quickly and dressings applied to protect the wound, and a few hours after it burst, he recalled the pain subsiding.
Four days later he was discharged — although he continued having to take five tablets a day for a month.
Mr Farrelly has now been left with a 2cm scar was off work due to the pain of the wound and its healing, but returned to work this week.
He said: ‘The pain didn’t ease properly until I had been home for around a week. I’m up and walking again now but it could have been so much worse.’
Reflecting on the horrifying and painful experience, Mr Farrelly admitted he feared the worst.
He said: ‘I was convinced I would lose my penis. The doctors didn’t know any more than me and have never seen a bite down there, so I was very worried.
‘The pain was unbearable too.’
But looking back, he added: ‘I do find it a wee bit funny now because it is unusual. But it’s also really scary — I had no idea what damage spiders could do.’
A spokesperson for Beaumont Hospital said they could not comment on individual cases.