Most of the time, we can put our trust in the knowledge and experience of medical doctors. Yet even they can make mistakes sometimes, which is why it’s always important to get second opinions and use your best judgement.

When 10-year-old Keith Pierce developed a painful mark on his skin, doctors thought for sure that they knew what it was. They treated it like it was cancer, but his mother thought it was something else. They ignored her pleas to investigate… which turned out to be a terrible mistake.

Ten-year-old Three Forks, Montana fourth grader Keith Pierce seemed to have everything going for him. He was healthy, happy, and adored by his three siblings, not to mention a skilled football player. Then one day, he noticed swelling on his leg.

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After going to the doctor a number of times for the swelling, Keith started to feel a terrible pain. His parents then took him to the hospital to figure out what was really going on.

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Mandy, Keith’s mother, thought that she saw fang marks on the odd round, dark spot on his leg, so she told the doctors that she thought Keith had been bitten by a spider. Yet the medical professionals at St. Vincent Hospital were so convinced that it was cancer that they only treated it as such.

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Doctors tried to perform an emergency surgery once the toxins set in two days later, but it was too late, and Keith passed away. After a forensic examination, it was revealed that, as Mandy suspected, Keith was killed from a brown recluse spider bite, poisoning his blood in a process called sepsis.

3-keith-pierceAfroswede / Flickr

Most spiders in the United States are not dangerous, but brown recluse spiders are the only ones in North America with amounts of venom that are considered medically significant. They can be found in the areas of the country marked in yellow.

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If you live in an area prone to these spiders, you can protect yourself by wearing socks, long sleeves, and long pants, especially when working outdoors. Brown recluse spiders like to live in dark areas, especially piles of lumber. If you do get bitten, though, be sure to apply a damp, cold compress on top of the wound after washing the affected area with soapy, hot water.

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$10,000 was raised in a fundraiser organized by the community to support the Pierce family in their time of need.

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What happened to Keith is absolutely tragic, especially because it was preventable and treatable. Hopefully, this story can serve as a warning to others.

For more information about how to help Keith’s family, please visit his Facebook support page.

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