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News Archive > General > Snake bite leaves John ‘paralysed’

Snake bite leaves John ‘paralysed’

By Natasha Swift 10th May 2017

Snake bite leaves John ‘paralysed’
BITTEN: John Kiernan

A CHARLESTOWN man who accidentally stepped into a nest of adders has relived the moment he was left paralysed from the neck down for seven hours after being bitten on the leg by the UK’s only venomous snake.  

Within 15 minutes of being bitten, John Kiernan could not feel his body from the chin down after suffering a severe reaction.

The 54-year-old, who is an amateur photographer, saw a shot he wanted to take so parked his car at Tehidy woods and walked over to the spot where he was planning on getting his photo.

John put his foot in six inches of grass and instantly felt his leg touch what he thought was a stinging nettle. After getting his shots he made his way back to his car and 15 minutes later was paralysed.

John told the Voice: “I didn’t even have the strength to swipe my phone open to call for help. I had no idea what was happening.

“I was paralysed for seven hours by myself sat in the car. I tried to wave at people as they went by but felt so weak I couldn’t lift my hand. I thought I had the flu coming on or I’d had a stroke as we have a history of that in our family.”

John had no idea he had been bitten by the poisonous snake.  

With hypothermia setting in, John managed to muster enough strength to have a sip of an energy drink and turned on the car ignition to get some heat.

He said: “That drink saved me because it gave me enough strength to do three things - check the car was in neutral, turn on the engine and then put on the heating. That means I am alive today. If I did not have that drink I would have been dead. I was like a drunken zombie.”

After blasting the heating on, John recovered enough to drive to a friend’s house nearby where they gave him a cup of tea and banana before he made it back to Charlestown.

“I was in so much pain,” explained John. “It felt like someone had kicked my shin. The pain was just unbelievable. I got out of bed and couldn’t walk. I fell downstairs. I went to my neighbour Richard Mutton and he took one look at it and said I had been bitten by an adder.

“He said I was near death. I was delirious. I owe my life to Richard.”

An ambulance was called and rushed John to hospital where he was given anti-venom. He spent four days in hospital where he received physiotherapy to give him the use of his leg back before being allowed to go home with a carer.  

John, who nearly three weeks later is still suffering from a burning in his leg, said: “I would say it was 1 - 0 to the adder.

“I just want to make other people aware that there is an adder epidemic at the moment and not to go stepping in grass without checking.”

A doctor at Royal Cornwall Hospital said John had suffered a more severe reaction than normal.

By Natasha Swift 10th May 2017

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