June 2020 (2)
May 2020 (4)
April 2020 (2)
March 2020 (2)
February 2020 (3)
January 2020 (3)
November 2019 (2)
October 2019 (3)
September 2019 (1)
August 2019 (3)
July 2019 (3)
June 2019 (4)
May 2019 (4)
April 2019 (4)
March 2019 (4)
February 2019 (2)
January 2019 (5)
December 2018 (3)
November 2018 (3)
October 2018 (5)
September 2018 (3)
August 2018 (2)
July 2018 (2)
June 2018 (3)
May 2018 (3)
April 2018 (1)
March 2018 (3)
February 2018 (1)
January 2018 (3)
December 2017 (2)
November 2017 (3)
August 2017 (1)
July 2017 (2)
June 2017 (3)
May 2017 (2)
April 2017 (1)
March 2017 (2)
February 2017 (1)
January 2017 (1)
December 2016 (4)
November 2016 (3)
October 2016 (3)
August 2016 (3)
July 2016 (1)
May 2016 (1)
April 2016 (1)
March 2016 (1)
January 2016 (1)
December 2015 (3)
November 2015 (3)
October 2015 (2)
September 2015 (1)
July 2015 (1)
June 2015 (2)
May 2015 (1)
April 2015 (3)
March 2015 (1)
February 2015 (3)
January 2015 (1)
December 2014 (3)
November 2014 (2)
October 2014 (3)
August 2014 (2)
July 2014 (1)
June 2014 (2)
April 2014 (1)
March 2014 (1)
February 2014 (2)
September 2013 (5)
July 2013 (1)
June 2013 (3)
May 2013 (2)
April 2013 (1)
March 2013 (1)
February 2013 (3)
December 2012 (1)
November 2012 (1)
June 2012 (3)
May 2012 (3)
April 2012 (1)
March 2012 (1)
February 2012 (2)
December 2011 (1)
November 2011 (1)
October 2011 (1)
September 2011 (2)
August 2011 (2)
June 2011 (1)
May 2011 (1)
April 2011 (1)
March 2011 (2)
January 2011 (1)
October 2010 (2)
September 2010 (1)
July 2010 (1)
June 2010 (1)
April 2010 (1)
March 2010 (1)
February 2010 (1)
January 2010 (2)
December 2009 (1)
November 2009 (1)
October 2009 (1)
September 2009 (1)
August 2009 (1)
July 2009 (1)
May 2009 (1)
April 2009 (1)
March 2009 (1)
February 2009 (2)
January 2009 (1)
October 2008 (1)
September 2008 (1)
August 2008 (1)
July 2008 (1)
June 2008 (2)
May 2008 (1)
April 2008 (3)
March 2008 (4)
February 2008 (5)
January 2008 (2)
December 2007 (1)
October 2007 (1)
June 2007 (1)
May 2007 (3)
April 2007 (5)
March 2007 (2)
October 2006 (2)
September 2006 (2)
Print Article

Current Articles | Search | Admin Options

Snake Bites Him as He Sleeps—Then What?

Swazis learn at an early age to coexist with dangerous snakes. However, when the snakes stray into human territory, it’s simply not good.

Neliswa felt the bite on his left ankle, not once but twice, of a snake. Poisonous snakes are plenteous in Eswatini.

It was very hot that evening, Neliswa remembers. Therefore, he and a friend sat outside with the door open.

“We stayed up late. I went inside and shut the door without checking. I think now that the snake was hiding in the washing basket. I climbed into bed…”

“Early in the morning, I first felt fear that maybe there was something in the house, but I continued sleeping. I woke up in great pain when something pricked my ankle. I saw the snake in my bed.  My foot was bleeding. It felt like I had been stabbed with a sharp screw driver,” says Neliswa.

“I jumped up and ran outside and washed the wound.”  He hurried back inside and told the other young man sharing the room that a snake just attacked him.  “But he didn’t believe me. I moved the bed, and there was the snake hiding in the shelves behind the bed board.”
 

Neliswa walks around the Miracle Campus on his crutches. Here he is getting his leg checked at TLC's newly-completed hospital ward.

 

It was a Mozambican spitting cobra about 90 centimeters (3 feet) long. Poisonous, for sure. 

Thus began a long journey for Neliswa, age 22 years. Two months later, he’s still on that snakebite journey.

Neliswa rushed to a neighbor’s house and called his stepfather, who took him to a small private hospital nearby. By this time, Neliswa was vomiting. He stayed there for an hour, but the hospital had no antivenom.  “We did not have the money for me to stay there, even if they had antivenom,” he explains. 

Neliswa recalls “being dizzy, losing strength, not thinking straight. My whole body was painful.”

His stepfather took him to a larger hospital where he was given five vials of antivenom which depleted the hospital's antivenom stock. Each vial costs about 1900 emalangeni (about $120).
 

With a smile that shows his gratitude for past mercies and his hopes for the future, Neliswa lets others know that his “present” is just fine, too.

The next morning, Neliswa was transferred to the Miracle Campus. The Luke Commission has a reputation in Eswatini for treating snakebites without charge and for having an adequate supply of costly antivenom to fight the effects of the venom. At TLC, Neliswa received five additional vials of antivenom.

Neliswa was admitted to The Luke Commission hospital. By this time, his foot was swelling.

Neliswa recalled big blisters forming on his ankle. Then, the blisters broke, and necrotic skin became evident. “It was very smelly. The outside on my ankle itched and hurt all together. The bite on the inside of my ankle was deeper and hurt even more.”

TLC’s medical team sought advice from a snake expert in Eswatini, treated Neliswa’s wounds, and watched the foot closely. The poison traveled up his calf as his whole leg swelled. Ten days later, the TLC team arranged for an operation at a private hospital with a surgeon who would excise the dead and infected skin on Neliswa’s foot and leg.

“I could not sleep the night before the operation because the pain was so great. But The Luke Commission took care of everything for me and paid what I owed,” explained Neliswa. “I’m out of words for what has been done for me.”
 

Neliswa rests on his bed at the TLC hospital, which has become his home while his foot and leg slowly heal.

Following the operation, back at the Miracle Campus, Neliswa’s leg and foot were wrapped in wound dressings that were changed every three days. “The nurses and doctors were very nice and caring,” he says. “I went to three hospitals and had a taste of the others. TLC is best.”

Neliswa has been kept active walking with crutches and doing physical therapy exercises at the Miracle Campus hospital. He also likes to draw, so he has spent some of his healing time drawing.

His mother, Thandiwe, has served as his caregiver the whole time he has been in the hospital. He has had no other visitors because of COVID-19 restrictions. 

Four weeks passed, and the TLC medical team arranged another surgery for Neliswa. This time his lower leg and foot needed skin grafts to cover the areas that had died and been cut away.

“I’m very grateful. I never would have gotten this much money,” said Neliswa. “Many people who are bitten by this snake have died.”
 

“My sincere gratitude for everything you’ve done for me,”  says Neliswa to all who support TLC.

Last year he completed form 5, equivalent to the senior year in high school. Before the snake bit him, he did not have a job and wasn’t sure what he wanted to pursue. “I was still brainstorming,” he smiles. His English, which he says he was “forced to” learn in primary school, has served him well as he navigates the Miracle Campus day by day.

Neliswa’s father died in 2013.  He has a younger sister.

Shyly admitting that he has a girlfriend, Neliswa declares that he will tell his future children: “I hope you never have to experience this much pain.”

Thandiwe says she has never seen a hospital like TLC. 

“Medication is given on time, and people come to check on my son even in the middle of the night. I have become closer to God here. He gave us The Luke Commission to take care of my son. I see God caring for us every day,” Thandiwe shared.
 
(by Janet Tuinstra)

Copyright 2020 by The Luke Commission