Chris Clarke and Karyn McKenzie are eternally thankful to doctors and paramedics who treated young Izabella, 3, after she was bitten by a funnel-web.
Chris Clarke and Karyn McKenzie are eternally thankful to doctors and paramedics who treated young Izabella, 3, after she was bitten by a funnel-web. Rob Wright

Toddler survives funnel web bite

YOUNG Izabella McKenzie might not realise just how close she came, but after her extraordinary tale of survival she knows one thing - she doesn't like spiders.

Bitten by a highly venomous funnel web, the odds were well and truly against the three-year-old.

In fact, had it not been for the immediate response of her parents Karyn McKenzie and Chris Clarke the outcome may have ended in tragedy.

In a week-long ordeal, their little girl was placed on life support and airlifted to Newcastle, after she was injected with six vials of spider anti-venom.

Overwhelmed by her remarkable recovery, her parents cannot describe what they felt as their daughter's life rested in the hands of medical professionals.

"No mother should have to go through that, words cannot describe what I was feeling after seeing my little girl on life support," Karyn said.

"I had complications when Bella was born and to have almost lost her twice now and to have her back is just incredible.

Bella had been out for a morning walk with her dad on the family's Lowanna property on Wednesday when she took off her boots and left them outside.

"We had been inside for all of 20 minutes when I said c'mon Bella we have more chores to do, and as she put her foot in her boot she just instantly howled and let out this terrible scream.

"When I felt her foot it felt hot like it had been burned.

Panicked Karyn administered first-aid, as Chris inspected the boot and found the nasty male Northern Rivers or Northern Tree Funnel-web.

Thinking quickly he collected the spider into a jar for identification purposes - a move that doctors later said may have saved his daughter's life.

Rushed to a waiting ambulance in Coramba after a triple-0 call was made, Karyn said that is when Bella was first injected with anti-venom.

"We were told there was an hour window of opportunity to save Bella's life and she was injected within 20 minutes - with these types of bites time is crucial," Chris said.

Rushed to Coffs Harbour Base Hospital, Bella was quickly scheduled on a Royal Flying Doctors fixed-wing flight to Newcastle in terrible weather conditions.

Regaining her health, Bella is now undergoing frequent checks with her doctor.

"Her bloods samples have been kept for research, so doctors can monitor the effects of the anti-venom on anyone else who is bitten.

"One thing that is for sure no boots or shoes are left outside now, it doesn't matter if they are covered in mud or manure they come inside," she said.


Still overwhelmed by the ordeal Bella's parents wish to send their heart felt thanks to the responding team from the Ambulance service Coffs Harbour, all of the doctors and nursing staff at the Coffs Harbour Base Hospital the NETS Team ( Newborn Emergency Transport Team), Newcastle, who sent a highly qualified doctor and nurse to transport Bella, the Royal Doctors Service, who allowed the use of the aircraft for the emergency transport, the doctors and nursing staff in the ICU John Hunter and Childrens ward, and to all those wonderful messages of hope and love from family and friends.

"How do you thank so many organisations for the greatest gift of life, the life of our Bella."

Coffs CWA ladies are looking for a tradie

Coffs CWA ladies are looking for a tradie

We are at a bit of a loss to figure out how to clean up the mess

Digging in for greater good

premium_icon Digging in for greater good

After years of planning and hard work, the community garden is open.

A guide to local Anzac Day Services

A guide to local Anzac Day Services

Ceremonies honour sacrifices made at war. See times and locations.