Join the news democracyWhere your votes decide the Top 100
Warning: This story contains graphic content.
A man claims he was hospitalised and feared he would lose his penis - after being bitten by a black widow spider.
Fergus Farrelly, 26, says he woke up one morning and spotted a painful marble-sized lump on his private parts - which kept growing larger and larger.
Baffled and in pain, the construction worker was rushed to hospital when the lump began to go a dark purple colour.
It swelled to the size of a golf ball and Fergus, from Shercock in County Cavan, Ireland, was hospitalised for four days
Sign up to our new free Indy100 weekly newsletter
He claims he was prescribed a cocktail of drugs after doctors spotted venom of a black widow spider in his blood tests.
Fergus says he feared he would lose his penis altogether after even specialists said they’d never seen anything like it before.
But he is now getting back on his feet - although sports a two-inch scar on his penis.
Fergus said: "When I woke up and saw this lump, I had no idea what it was - but it got larger and larger as days passed.
"After three days I went to A&E in so much pain - it felt like it was burning.
"I couldn't believe it when they found the venom of a black widow spider in my blood - I'd never even heard of one before.
"I was in hospital for days on all kinds of drips after the giant lump burst - that was when I thought I would lose my penis altogether.
"I'm all healed now and I do find it a wee bit funny - but also scary, I had no idea what damage spiders could do."
Fergus had been staying at his mother's house in Cavan, in Ulster, and when he woke up on January 7 he noticed a "marble-sized" lump on his penis.
Confused, he initially dismissed it - but over the following days, the lump grew.
On the third day, his girlfriend Lyndsey Duffy, 21, urged him to visit A&E when the lump had reached the size of a golf ball, as well as turning purple.
They rushed to A&E at Cavan General Hospital but doctors there insisted he would need to be seen by a specialist - and was quickly transferred to the larger Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.
He said: "I had no idea what it was. When I first went to the hospital, the doctors didn't know either.
"It was this constant burning pain and the lump kept getting bigger and bigger."
To make matters worse, just hours after he arrived in A&E, the huge cyst BURST - leaving a giant hole where it had once been.
With doctors baffled, he stayed in hospital where he was hooked up to an IV drip of antibiotics as they feared an infection.
Fergus said: "The doctors kept coming in and out for swabs and blood samples. I was just lay there in bed - I couldn't walk or move even, because of the pain."
But it wasn't until several days had passed that doctors finally sussed out the mystery lump - after Fergus' blood results came back.
Fergus claims that his test samples contained venom from a black widow spider - a dangerous red and black spider found worldwide.
While their venom is rarely fatal, a bite can cause muscle cramps and pain so intense it can be compared to appendicitis or a heart attack.
Fergus said doctors told him how lucky he was that it burst while in hospital - and that he could have been one of the few unlucky people for whom a black widow bite is deadly.
He said: "I got told I would probably have ended up dead if it hadn't burst in the hospital because it would likely have got infected.
"They said the venom could have spread and poisoned my blood system."
But luckily Fergus was treated quickly and dressings applied to protect the wound - and a few hours after it burst, he recalled the pain subsiding.
Four days later he was discharged - although he continued having to take five tablets a day for a month after he was discharged.
The construction worker has now been left with a 2cm scar was off work due to the pain of the wound and its healing, but returned to work this week.
He said: "The pain didn't ease properly until I had been home for around a week. I'm up and walking again now but it could have been so much worse."
Reflecting on the horrifying and painful experience, Fergus admitted he feared the worst.
He said: "I was convinced I would lose my penis. The doctors didn't know any more than me and have never seen a bite down there, so I was very worried.
"The pain was unbearable too."
But looking back, he added: "I do find it a wee bit funny now because it is unusual. But it's also really scary - I had no idea what damage spiders could do."
A spokesperson for Beaumont Hospital said they could not comment on individual cases.
SWNS reporting by Amy Reast.
Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.