5-year-old home after snakebite, but parents now searching for signs of ‘serum sickness’

Austin

GRANITE SHOALS, Texas (KXAN) — Emily Rose Oehler smiles shyly. She sits in her wheelchair near Granite Shoals City Hall and softly says, “I’m good.”

The 5-year-old is home and recovering from a western diamondback rattlesnake bite at Longhorn Cavern State Park in Burnet County. Her small foot is still swollen after the bite a week later.

“We were terrified for a long time, ” said her father Wes Oehler. “But to have her home already, it was hard to keep it together on the way home.”

She can’t put weight on her hurt leg so she’s using a wheelchair and walker to get around, which tires her out quickly. “Every day she’s getting better and better,” said her mother, Alicia Oehler.

After being bitten, Emily Rose was taken to Dell Children’s Medical Center where she got 16 doses of antivenom in 24 hours. Then she had a setback and needed more. The family said they’ve applied for financial help through the hospital to help with antivenom costs.

A spokesperson with Dell Children’s Medical Center said in an email that the hospital is the “only pediatric level I trauma center in Central Texas. We are grateful to our highly-skilled physicians, nurses and the entire clinical team who provide exceptional care to the patients and families we serve. Their expertise has led to countless young patients being successfully brought back to health in the face of life-threatening danger, including snake bites.”

The e-mail goes on to say, “As a nonprofit health system whose Mission is to serve our community with a special concern for the poor and the vulnerable, we provide patients with a team of financial professionals dedicated to ensuring everyone can get the care they need, regardless of their ability to pay. This team helps qualifying patients access our charitable care funds, plus government resources such as Medicaid. Every year across Texas, Ascension proudly provides hundreds of millions of dollars in community benefit and charity care.”

Even though the hospital may cover some expenses while Emily was there, the family did set up an online fundraising page to help with other expenses including physical therapy and care that Emily will need now that’s she’s home.

The Oehlers say they’re also keeping an eye out for “serum sickness,” which can kick in a week or two after antivenom is used, causing nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. They tell KXAN that their little girl will be headed back to the doctor this week for a check-up.

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