Woman loses toe to spider bite but gains help from community

GOLDENDALE, Wash. - The community here has rallied to help a woman who lost her toe and nearly her life from a spider bite.

Deborah Heart was picking cherries off her tree on a sunny day in July while wearing Birkenstocks when a spider bite changed her life.

"I felt this intense pain. It was this hot burning sensation, and I knew that something bad had just happened," she said.

Heart had no idea just how serious it was until she went to the doctor the next day and was sent straight to the emergency room for treatment of a poisonous spider bite.

She lost her toe - amputated due to the poison infecting the bone. But she said she could've lost part of her leg or may have died if she waited any longer to see a doctor.

That was the beginning of a scary, and life-threatening battle with the poison from what she believes was either a brown recluse or hobo spider.

The poison spread through her entire body, affected her organs and came close to killing her.

She's now gaining on her health, but the hardest part is accepting help from the community she's been helping as a volunteer for years.

They've raised thousands of dollars to help Heart save her home and pay her medical bills.

"I've had a lot of time to contemplate, 'Why me God? Thanks a lot,'" she said. "It has (tested my faith), but if it wasn't for my faith, my church, my work with the school board, I don't know if I would've survived to this point."

Church members and friends have raised more than $4,000 in just a few days online. Dozens of businesses have also donated thousands of dollars in items to auction off at a fundraiser Friday night.

The brown recluse spider is not native to the Pacific Northwest. In fact, the only brown recluse ever found in the Northwest was in the Yakima Valley town of Prosser in 1978. And that one came from a trailer of household goods brought in from Kansas.

The region does have hobo spiders, however.

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