Monday 26 September 2016

Warning - graphic image: Barrister sues airline after nearly losing his leg when bitten by flesh-eating spider

Jonathan Hogg was midway through the trip of a lifetime when he was bitten during a flight from Doha to Cape Town

Victoria Ward

Published 04/10/2015 | 10:02

Jonathon Hogg. Photo: Slater and Gordon/PA Wire
Jonathon Hogg. Photo: Slater and Gordon/PA Wire
Jonathon Hogg, the holidaymaker on the trip of a lifetime almost lost his leg after suffering a flesh-eating spider bite. Photo: Slater and Gordon/PA Wire
The wound on Jonathon Hogg's leg after he was bitten by a spider: Slater and Gordon/PA Wire

A British lawyer on the trip of a lifetime is suing an airline after claiming that he was being bitten by a poisonous spider while travelling on a plane to South Africa.

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Barrister Jonathon Hogg, 40, said he felt a "small, sharp pain" while on a Qatar Airways flight from Doha.

He almost lost his leg and doctors told him he could have died from the bite by the flesh-eating brown recluse spider.

Within hours, his leg had ballooned and turned black and by the time he reached hospital it was "bursting open".

Doctors rushed him into surgery and cut away a large part of his leg where the venom had eaten the flesh, but what was left "resembled something from a horror film".

He spent a month in hospital in South Africa, undergoing three operations and a skin graft, but three months on is still receiving medical treatment.

Mr Hogg, from Camden, north London, said: "The pain was like nothing I've been through in my life. By the time I got to hospital my leg was bursting open, there was pus, it was black.

"It was a right mess. They told me if I had been any later I would have lost my leg or even died. It was terrifying."

The keen footballer and kickboxer is now terrified of flying and fears he will never play sport again.

He had taken five months off work and worked at an orangutan sanctuary in Borneo before travelling to South Africa in June to dive with sharks.

But six hours into the flight from Doha to Cape Town he said he felt a pain in his leg before spotting a spider running across the floor.

He said: "I was struggling to get comfortable during the journey and crossed my legs to get into a better position when I felt a small, sharp pain radiating in my left leg.

"I turned on the light and clearly saw a spider running across the floor before hearing two stewardesses screaming 'Spider', but I wasn't sure if I had been bitten as it really wasn't very painful."

His leg swelled up and became bruised so he took painkillers as he thought it might be deep-vein thrombosis.

The wound on Jonathon Hogg's leg after he was bitten by a spider: Slater and Gordon/PA Wire
The wound on Jonathon Hogg's leg after he was bitten by a spider: Slater and Gordon/PA Wire

The next day it was worse - and he was stunned when colleagues said it looked like a spider bite and he needed urgent medical attention.

Warning: graphic image below

After an operation to remove the dead flesh, Mr Hogg, acting legal director at telecomms company IPC Information Systems, was horrified to see the damage.

He said: "I knew something was wrong but I had no idea how bad it was until I spoke with the surgeon. When he told me how close I had come to losing my leg I was stunned.

"It really hit home when they removed the bandages and I saw what was left of my leg - it resembled something from a horror film. They had been forced to cut away so much, I was devastated.

"However when I realised the extent of my injuries I realised I was just lucky to still have my leg - even if the sight of my leg shocked me when I finally saw it."

Mr Hogg has now been told he may need another operation after learning that the skin graft has not taken.

He has launched legal action against the airline, Qatar Airways, which he says has refused to accept responsibility.

He said: "They have made no attempt to resolve the issue and have basically said it was nothing to do with them. All this has left me very traumatised but determined to seek justice.

"No one should have to go through what I have and if the airline has made a mistake it should take responsibility."

Richard Duxbury, from law firm Slater and Gordon, representing Mr Hogg, said: "Mr Hogg has suffered a harrowing experience after he was bitten by a very venomous spider. This situation could have been far worse, with Mr Hogg narrowly avoiding losing his leg and perhaps even his life.

"Airlines have a responsibility to protect passengers from dangerous potential pests by properly fumigating all planes. We will now be investigating Mr Hogg's claim to determine if there has been any wrongdoing by the airline."

A Qatar Airways spokesman said it had not yet received notice of any legal action from Mr Hogg.

"The only known interaction between the airline and Mr. Hogg regarding this incident, which he claims happened on a Qatar Airways aircraft in June, was via our website a week after his travel was complete," he said.

"No report was filled with any staff on board regarding this incident.

"We have also not been advised of any legal proceedings regarding this incident. In the circumstances we cannot comment further but will, of course, investigate any further information which is brought to our attention formally.

"Qatar Airways takes the safety and security of our passengers very seriously."

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