Northern Ireland woman bitten by venomous spider while lying in bed almost lost her leg
I thought I was going to lose my leg after spider bit me in bed at my Co Down home
A mother from Northern Ireland has spoken of her terrifying ordeal after a nasty spider bite almost led to her losing her leg.
Aideen Hynes (34) was bitten at her Castlewellan home by a False Widow - Britain's most venomous spider.
The eight-legged horror sank its fangs into her leg while she was in bed.
The mum-of-four described every arachnophobe's worst nightmare.
"I felt something crawling on my leg under the duvet and tried to brush it off," she said.
"It must have thought it was under attack, because the next minute it bit me.
"The pain was agonising."
Aideen's husband Darrin had formerly run a reptile pet shop in Downpatrick - and he quickly recognised the injury.
"Darrin knew immediately from the puncture marks that it was a spider bite," she said.
'We turned the bedroom upside down, but we couldn't find it anywhere.
"I didn't get a wink of sleep.
"I was having spasms where my leg would shake uncontrollably every five minutes."
The spider venom spread so rapidly in Aideen's leg that medics at Downe Hospital feared it would attack her muscles - meaning they would have to cut away the poisoned flesh.
Thankfully, swift treatment with antihistamines and antibiotics stopped the spread of the infection - but not before the poison had reached Aideen's ankles and feet.
On her Facebook site, Mrs Hynes posted shocking images of the appalling skin lesions on her leg caused by the False Widow.
"My leg was completely swollen and it was scabbing over - it was oozing with pus and I couldn't walk. It was awful," she wrote.
"I had to be given crutches.
"I thought I was going to lose my leg.
"It got so painful I was ready to chop off my own leg.'
"It's finally getting better now, but for a while it was touch and go."
The spider that did the damage is still at large.
Aideen's husband Darrin eventually caught the brute - but later released it in a field near their home.
The False Widow spider is a native of the Canary Islands.
It arrived in the British Isles in the mid-19th century, carried to the UK on ships bringing bananas from the fertile Spanish Atlantic islands.
Last year, Irishman Eugene Murphy (28) had to be treated in intensive care after being bitten by a False Widow.
The Dubliner said at the time he "never felt pain like it" after the spider's bite left him unconscious.
Experts say that the False Widow spider is not normally aggressive.
However, it will bite if it feels threatened - as Mrs Hynes found out to her cost.