The Lister saved my life – venomous bite from false widow spider leaves brave Hitchin mum close to death

PUBLISHED: 07:01 04 November 2016 | UPDATED: 09:32 04 November 2016

Stuart de Wolf, Maisie de Wolf and Rosie de Wolf

Stuart de Wolf, Maisie de Wolf and Rosie de Wolf


A Hitchin mum has praised Stevenage’s Lister Hospital for saving her life after she was bitten by a killer spider with skull-shaped markings.

A false widow spider found at Rosie's Hitchin home.A false widow spider found at Rosie's Hitchin home.

Rosie de Wolf – who featured in the Comet 20 years ago as her family rallied against her daughter’s leukaemia – faced a life-threatening challenge of her own after she was bitten by the notorious false widow spider.

Rosie de Wolf – whose daughter Maisie successfully fought off the disease in the mid 1990s to live a full and healthy life – was in her garden when a bite from the venomous arachnid left her in a critical condition in the Lister Hospital for five days.

Rosie, 51, said: “I was bitten but didn’t think anything of it. It was only when I tried to get out of bed the next morning I had to be helped up by my husband. My hand went red and I had big blisters. I thought I’d burned my hands. Apparently if it goes yellow you’re in big trouble.

“I’m not the type to make a fuss, but I had an appointment with Pinehill Hospital that morning about an ingrowing toenail. I ached all over but went. “They asked if I was allergic to anything. I replied, ‘oh, just wasps’. They then rushed into action immediately. I had incredible joint and muscle pain. “I was having blood tests every couple of hours, as it also affects your kidneys.

“They gave me a high dose of antibiotics. I was on morphine for five days. I can’t praise the Lister staff enough. They undoubtedly saved my life.

“My son’s a doctor and he was very shocked when I told him.”

With large numbers of the brown spiders – many with skull-shaped markings – in gardens and sheds as they mate at this time of year she believes she was bitten by a threatened female. Its venom left her debilitated and affected her muscles. Rosie, who ran the London Marathon with her husband and daughter Mimi, was discharged from hospital and is on gradually on the mend – but it will take time.

She said: “I ran for the train and spent the next day in bed. I don’t want to frighten anyone but nature needs respect. I’d like people to be aware so no-one goes through what I’ve been through. I’m regaining my strength but it wasn’t pleasant.”

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