LOCKHART (KXAN) — 10-year-old Ayden Scott of Lockhart is back home and recovering after a rattlesnake bit his foot two weeks ago, according to his family.
The Scott family told KXAN their son spent over a week in the hospital, with several days in the intensive care unit at Dell Children’s receiving multiple rounds of heavy-duty anti-venom treatments.
But there’s a long road ahead for the family as they work to get their son back on his feet.
Ayden said he was playing basketball at his house when the ball got stuck in the tree. He said he jumped up several times to try to retrieve the ball. On his final jump, he felt severe pain to his foot.
“All I felt was stinging through my shoe,” Scott said. “For a second, I thought it was a tree branch that stabbed through my shoe. So I took off my shoe but there was just two little dots, so I knew it was a snake.”
Scott said the snake never rattled and was over three feet long.
“I knew immediately it was a rattlesnake,” said Ayden’s mom, Shelby Scott. “I was scared to death. Because you hear all the horror stories of amputations and possible death.”
Scott was immediately transported to a nearby Kyle hospital before being shuttled to Dell Children’s in Austin.
“You gotta have a lot of anti-venom when you get bit,” Scott joked.
“He went through close to 60 vials of anti-venom because there was so much in there,” Shelby Scott said. “We are looking at around $150,000 in anti-venom. That doesn’t include doctors and anesthesiologists.”
The price of anti-venom or antivenin can vary greatly depending on where you get the drug. A report in the Journal of American Medicine finds hospitals will mark up the drug in negotiations with insurance companies.
For example, someone in one state might pay $300 for a dose while someone in another state could pay more than $5,000. The Scott family anticipates they will pay around $2,500 per dose. With snake bite treatments, patients usually require several doses.
The family said they will work with insurance to get the cost down, what they admit is no easy task.
The family said insurance may not fully cover anti-venom treatments because there is no standard dosage. Doctors monitor the swelling and administer vials based on how the body reacts. So it ultimately varies patient-to-patient.
“You have to fight and fight and fight to get your insurance to pay for it,” said Shelby Scott.
KXAN asked Dell Children’s Medical Center about anti-venom supply at the facility. Doctors have about 30 vials on hand year-round. That’s enough to start treating at least two patients.
They also have a network set up to make sure more doses of the drug can be easily obtained.
Since last year, Dell Children’s saw just as many bites in October as in the summer months.
Debbie Bouz, Scott’s grandmother, told KXAN plastic surgeons have worked to remove skin in the infected area and Scott may undergo skin grafts. Over the past two weeks, Scott has been sedated while doctors cleaned and tended the wounds. Scott’s mother said he still goes to the hospital daily for additional sedated dressing. She called this snake bite an emotional and mental toll for the whole family.
At this point, Ayden said he’s just happy to be home. And he’s also ready to get off his wheelchair and back to where it all began.
“Once it’s all recovered, I can get back to playing sports,” Ayden Scott said.
Dell Children’s Medical Center on snake bites
According to Dr. Eric Higginbotham, Medical Director of Emergency Department:
- Three children have been treated so far this calendar year at Dell Children’s for snake bites
- Since June 2018, 13 pediatric patients have been treated for rattlesnake bites
- He recommends parents are diligent to ensure children are supervised while outside, particularly when the children are in under developed areas outside of the city
- Dell Children’s has a scoring system to determine if children with a snake bite need anti-venom, based on the severity of symptoms
About 30 vials of rattlesnake anti-venom are kept on-hand year-round at Dell Children’s, according to Pharmacy Director Thanhhao Ngo. The hospital also has a network set up with other Ascension Seton sites to obtain more vials if needed. Additional supplies can be shipped overnight if need be.
Ngo said in 2018, Dell Children’s saw just as many snake bites in October as in the summer months.