A Hackbridge woman who was bitten by a spider as she slept feared she could have lost her arm or even died after contracting a rare illness from the bite.

Natalie Hemme, 31, developed a syndrome which caused the skin and flesh in her right forearm to swell and die after being bitten by the arachnid in her Corbet Close home in February.

Doctors thought the arm would have to be amputated but saved it after five operations leaving her with severe scarring but full use of the limb.

Ms Hemme told The Sun newspaper: "You'd expect it in Australia, but not in Surrey!

"I was in such pain when they told me I needed my arm amputated that I didn't even care. It was agony and I know I have been very lucky to survive and keep my arm."

Ms Hemme woke one morning in February with a small red bite on her left wrist. When it started to swell and throb she was given antibiotics and paracetamol.

But two days later her husband Michael was forced to call an ambulance after she became violently ill with compartment syndrome. The muscles and nerves in her arm had turned septic, she was vomiting green pus and struggling to stand.

She told The Sun: "It looked like a balloon. I honestly thought I was going to die."

Surgeons were able to strip the infected flesh from the arm and she was in hospital for three weeks. She has now returned to work following physiotherapy.

She says she never used to be scared of spiders but is now and always checks the bed for bugs before she goes to sleep.