AS a yachtswoman she has single-handedly braved dangerous icebergs and treacherous conditions in the world’s most terrifying seas.
But Lymington sailor Hannah White almost died after she was bitten by a spider and was infected with a deadly flesh-eating bug – while doing press ups in her local park.
The spider bit the 29-year-old’s right thigh causing her leg to swell to twice its normal size.
She was put in quarantine and doctors told her she would die unless they removed part of her thigh.
However Hannah, who spent seven years as a professional sailor in competitions, including gruelling solo transatlantic races, managed to fight off the aggressive infection.
Now recovering at home she told the Daily Echo that she is lucky to be alive.
She said: “I honestly couldn’t believe how quickly I deteriorated. One moment I was in the gym and having lunch with friends and the next I was in a hospital bed fighting the most aggressive infection.
“The hardest thing was that for 48 hours while I was in hospital it only got worse. The doctors were concerned and put me on standby for emergency surgery.
“I couldn’t believe there I was discussing the possibility of having major surgery or possibly losing my leg.”
Hannah, who is now a broadcaster and commented on the sailing events at this year’s Olympics, said she got the bite while exercising in Regent’s Park near her London home eight days ago.
When her thigh began to swell she went to an NHS drop-in clinic, where she was prescribed antibiotics and allowed home.
Within days the pain became unbearable and her parents, from Lymington, took her to A&E at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.
At first doctors thought it was an abscess but then realised Hannah had the symptoms of the rare flesh-eating bug necrotising fasciitis, which occurs when certain bacteria gain access to the body through certain abrasions and can lead to multiple organ failure.
Doctors said the only way to kill the infection was to cut it out but thankfully, because she is fit and healthy with a strong immune system, Hannah’s body began to fight the bug.
She said: “My friends and family were unbelievable and we just had to try and stay strong.
“I am now at home but I feel completely exhausted from fighting this.
“I have travelled the world doing potentially dangerous things and I have been fine. I still can’t believe it.”