MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – A Myrtle Beach firefighter and a doctor from Grand Strand Medical Center recently helped save the life of a North Carolina man bitten by one of the world’s deadliest snakes.
Ted Bowman and Dr. Jarrat Lark received the award for saving civilian life after helping save a man bitten by a Gabonese viper.
“Patients bitten by these snakes often do not survive,” said Zhavruk.
The Gabonese viper, native to Africa, is considered one of the deadliest venomous snakes in the world.
“We consulted a doctor in Colorado who travels to Africa all the time,” Bowman said. “Based on what he has seen in the field, and in conversation with some other experts in Africa, it will be the worst bite of a gabuna that has ever survived.”
A man from Wilmington was bitten while caring for one of the snakes. Bowman and Lapwing have experience working with exotic snakes, so they were called to help.
“They needed advice from people who have experience in caring for exotic snake bites,” said Zhavruk. “So luckily they were able to capture both Ted and me.”
The venom of the Gabonese viper quickly immobilizes and digests the prey of the snake. It also affects the ability to coagulate blood to such an extent that human blood can no longer coagulate. The man suffered from all these consequences.
“He was walking on a deadly side, even if he survived the poisoning at the time,” Lark said.
The man received 44 vials against the venom, which is more than twice as much as when bitten by a rattlesnake.
“All of these alien proteins get into your body, and thankfully it went through it without any of these bad complications,” Lark said.
After several months of hospitalization, dialysis, physiotherapy and the loss of several fingers, the man returns to normal life.
“He is adapting to his disability and he is very functional,” Zhavruk said. “Now he’s working on two jobs, going back to baseline, activity level and all.”
Both Bowman and Lark said the case was extremely unique, but very pleased to see a successful outcome.