STAFFORD, Va. - A Virginia toddler is recovering after a copperhead snake bit him in the backyard of his grandparent’s home in Stafford County.
One week later, the little boy is doing okay, but the anti-venom needed to save his life could lead to some major financial issues for his family.
“I didn't know if we had minutes or hours, so it was sheer panic,” said the child’s grandmother, Heidi Mantzoros.
She was inside her Stafford home when her daughter carried in her grandson crying and bleeding from his foot. At first, they thought it was just a scratch. But within minutes, there was a lot of swelling.
“We were like that looks like a snake bite, so we just grabbed him, went to the emergency room and called 911 on the way,” said Mantzoros.
Doctors confirmed by a blood test that 16-month-old Auden was bitten by a copperhead. His mother, Kayleigh Kemp, said he was hospitalized for several days.
Kayleigh was sitting on her parent’s front stoop while Auden was making his way towards the garden. They never saw the snake, but as we were interviewing the child’s grandmother, we located a small piece of snake skin that had been shed. The whole family is alarmed by the incident.
“Every stick is a snake,” said Mantzoros. “It freaks you out.”
“It was definitely the scariest moment of my life,” said Ryan Kemp, Auden’s father.
The toddler had a reaction to the anti-venom. His throat began to swell and he had trouble breathing, so he was transferred from Inova Fairfax Hospital to Children’s National Medical Center for further treatment.
“They had to draw blood so many times that they ran out of veins to draw blood from,” said Kayleigh Kemp. “They had to draw blood from his scalp. It got really, really intense.”
It was not only terrifying, but expensive. The anti-venom that cured Auden costs $3,000 a vial. He needed 16 of them and the timing was terrible for the family.
The Kemps were recently married and in the process of updating their health insurance. Right now, it is not clear how much of the medical bills will be covered. The Kemps anticipate they will need some major financial help.
A relative set up a GoFundMe page to help the parents, but they have received some harsh comments on the page about their insurance status. It is a bit like rubbing salt in the wound, but they are staying positive. And the important thing – Auden seems to be recovering well.
“It's discouraging, but we have also have received so much positive feedback and so much support from people we don’t even know,” said Kayleigh. “It has been really incredible for me for the most part, so we are really grateful for that.”