An Alabama father of six is paralyzed and fighting for his life after being bitten by one of the deadliest snakes in the country.
Jeffrey Phillips’ children discovered the reptile outside of his Gilbertown, Alabama, home last week, according to WTOK. He decided to hold onto the snake — which he thought was a harmless kingsnake, WALA reported — to give to his older brother, who used to own reptiles as pets.
“Jeff went to pick it up and told him he didn’t really need to pick it up, but he did and he actually was holding it and he let the children touch the snake,” his mother, Judy Kell, told WTOK. “Not knowing that it was a coral snake, he thought it was just a kingsnake.”
After the red, yellow and black striped snake bit him, Phillips was paralyzed and rushed to nearby Anderson Hospital, where he is currently being treated in the intensive care unit, Kell told WTOK.
Phillips’ family has created a GoFundMe page for him, as he currently has no medical insurance.
“Due to the fact he did not receive the [antivenin] promptly it has caused many neurological problems,” the fundraising page — which has raised over $20,000 — said. “It should have been administered within the first 4-6 hours but he didn’t receive it until approximately 40 hours past the bite.”
According to WALA, the antivenin had to be flown in.
The coral snake lives in parts of the southeastern United States, according to National Geographic. If untreated with the antivenin, a coral snake bite can cause things like slurred speech and muscular paralysis, National Geographic said, as well as respiratory or cardiac failure in some cases.
Phillips will need extensive physical therapy “to learn how to walk, eat, write and all other everyday activities,” the GoFundMe fundraising page said. “This is going to be a long slow recovery for Jeffrey and his fiancé [Angela Patrick] to deal with. They currently have a total of six children under the age of  between the two of them.”
Patrick told WTOK Phillips was about to start a new job and they had planned to get married in August.
In an update posted earlier this week, Kell noted that Phillips is making progress in his recovery.
“We are grateful that he is alive,” Kell wrote. “He is off the ventilator and the feeding tube. He will be moving to a regular room and then will be transferred to inpatient rehab facilities for extensive long-term rehab to relearn everything.”