Snakebite victim out of hospital, on road to full recovery


Published: Monday, June 17, 2013 at 5:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, June 17, 2013 at 5:57 p.m.

After 80 vials of antivenin and 15 days in the hospital spent recovering from a bite by a full-grown eastern diamondback rattlesnake, Ben Smith is back home and doing well.

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Ben Smith awaits his return home after 15 days spent in the hospital.

The 11-year-old was running through the woods at a friend's birthday party in Newberry on May 30 when he was bitten in the leg by a 5-foot-long rattlesnake.

Over the next two weeks, Ben remained in the pediatric intensive-care unit at UF Health Shands Hospital while doctors administered vial after vial of antivenin to combat the rattlesnake's venom.

On Saturday, after clearing the necessary blood tests and observation period, Ben left the Shands PICU victorious.

Ben was able to walk on his own, holding a Gators football helmet signed by his doctors and nurses in the PICU. He made some friends while he was there, said his mother, Heather Smith.

Smith expressed gratitude for the people who took care of her son during those two weeks he spent in the hospital.

“They were amazing and provided a high level of care for us in what was a critical time,” she said, adding the family also felt supported by the prayers of the community.

During his recovery, Ben's friends and classmates from Oak View Middle School sent get-well cards and balloons, and well-wishers used the Twitter hashtag #PrayForBenSmith to show support.

Smith said she and Ben are collecting the cards and newspaper articles about him for a scrapbook.

The snake, which Ben's friend and the boy's father found and killed, will be preserved. It was taken to a taxidermist, who will use the skin for a wallet or another keepsake.

Ben was released Saturday evening, just in time to spend Father's Day at home with his dad, Lee, mom and sister, Megan, 16.

The snakebite won't cause any long-term issues -- all Ben needs now is some physical therapy for his leg.

The experience didn't deter him from the great outdoors, either.

“He's good to go,” his mother said. “He's ready to resume life. He's been positive through the whole thing.”

Contact Erin Jester at 352-338-3166 or erin.jester@gainesville.com.

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