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This team saved Ben from one of the worst cases of TMA from a snake bite

30 April 2021

This amazing team of PAH specialists have combined their knowledge, experience and research to save the life of Ben Avery who had one of the worst cases of thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) from an Australian snake bite on record.

Toxicologist and Emergency Staff Specialist, Dr Katherine Isoardi, said Ben’s symptoms were severe.

“Ben developed kidney failure, severe anaemia and platelet disruption following a tiger snake bite which made his case one of the worst cases of TMA documented.

“The things that kill you with a snakebite are usually bleeding, paralysis or rhabdomyolysis; TMA is not usually such a significant factor,” she said.

Dr Isoardi describes Ben’s initial presentation to Redland Hospital ED as a classic snake bite journey.

“He felt sick with nausea and pain quickly after the bite which is a key sign of envenomation and was administered early antivenom which, unfortunately does not appear to prevent TMA which developed for him days later.

“Only about 12 per cent of envenomed patients get TMA after these kind of snake bites and only one third of those require dialysis, so Ben’s reaction has been quite severe,” she said.

PAH Nephrologist, Dr Samantha Ng, said snakebite associated TMA is an uncommon inflammatory complication that comes as a consequence of envenomation which causes organ failure.

“Ben had a severe kidney injury as a result of the snake bite so, without dialysis, he would have died.

“What we have seen from the data published on Australian snakebite was that his documented case was worse than anything seen so far,” said Dr Ng.

Weekly dialysis will support Ben while his kidneys try to recover. 

“The small percentage of people with a complicated snake bite will get off dialysis but won’t necessarily get normal renal function back resulting in a chronic kidney issue that needs to be managed.

“We are seeing some very positive signs for Ben and the published data suggests that most people will have a good recovery.”

Ben has thanked the efforts of the team and credits them, as well as the quick actions from his wife, for saving his life.

He has also confirmed the culprit, his highly venomous eastern tiger snake, Wesley Stripes, will be rehomed to an experienced snake handler.

While Ben’s recovery is a warning about snakes, of the thousands of possible snake bites that present to Emergency Departments in Australia each year, there are on average 200 confirmed envenomations resulting in approximately two deaths annually.

Last updated 30 April 2021
Last reviewed 30 April 2021

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