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Utah community activist in ICU due to spider bites

Posted at 7:55 PM, Jul 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-22 21:58:34-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah woman who does so much for so many in her community is now in need of help herself.

Susi Feltch-Malohifo'ou started the group PIK2AR, a non-profit organization helping those in the Pacific Islander community and beyond. She was excited about kicking off events for next month — Pacific Islander Heritage Month — but was sidelined in recent days due to some spider bites — 15 of them, to be exact — that sent her to the hospital.

Adrian Swensen, Feltch-Malohifo'ou's son and the PIK2AR development director, talked to FOX 13 News about his mother's spider bites that sent her to the emergency room and required multiple surgeries, something he said all began with a family trip to the lake.

"We thought it would be a great idea to go fishing, and we went up to Mirror Lake," Swensen said.

He said they later discovered she had been bitten 15 times, they believe, while at the popular recreation destination located in the Uinta Mountains.

"We didn’t know that is what it was until a few days later. So that was Saturday. Sunday she woke up and felt sick. Monday she was sicker. Tuesday we decided we were going to take her to the doctor," Swensen said.

Feltch-Malohifo'ou shared her journey on Facebook, saying they ran COVID and flu tests, but didn't realize what was causing her to be sick until the bites on her lower back started to become infected.

"When those spider bites sort of came to the surface, she got bacteria into the wound," Adrian said. "Just to give you a size of the wound: It's about a foot long by about 8 inches in width."

Flesh-eating bacteria became the main focus of doctors at Intermountain Medical Center, and they are treating her through multiple surgeries

Swensen started a GoFundMe page to help with the mounting medical costs, not knowing how many more surgeries his mom will still need or how long she'll be in the intensive care unit.

Feltch-Malohifo'ou spoke to FOXa 13 News and said she is just excited to get back to work planning PIK2AR's events for Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Both she and her son emphasized the importance of seeking the right medical attention in cases like these, saying they know many in marginalized communities often try to figure it out on their own. They believe she would have died had she not gone into the ER when she did.