Oklahoma Marine's Road To Recovery Following Snake Bite

Thursday, October 15th 2015, 7:40 pm
By: News 9

An Oklahoma Marine who lost his leg in February is making huge strides in his road to recovery.

Second Lieutenant Anthony Kemp was hiking in the Wichita Mountains when he was bitten by a snake. This week, Kemp made a trip to OU Medical Center to thank the doctors he says saved his life.

"It was February. It was 70 degrees, sunny,” he said. “Unheard of at least in New York where I'm from."

Kemp and two other marines were stationed at Ft. Sill for training, but nothing could prepare them for this.

"We're kind of jumping from boulder to boulder,” he said. "It felt like someone drove a nail through my calf.'"

Pain quickly set in.

"I felt it clamp down, let go and hiss, and before I hit the ground my calf was swollen, and I couldn't move my foot,” he said.

Anthony was fading fast.

"I started feeling a lot of sharp pains in my abdomen and later found out that [pain] was my kidneys and my liver shutting down,” Kemp said.

But Kemp never gave up, and neither did fate.

"We didn't have service the entire day,” he said. “Somehow in this valley we had service."

Help was on the way, but the three couldn't climb back the way they came and took another route, scaling fence after fence.

"Climb up, fall down. Climb up, fall down,” he said.

But the last one was the biggest challenge yet.

"Maybe six feet high and it's got these little barbs on top, and I'm looking at it like ‘I got nothing left,’" he said.

A park ranger showed up, and soon Kemp woke up in a hospital. His mother was by his side.

"They were doing something with my legs. I tried to look, and my mom kind of put a sheet up and she goes 'You don't want to look.' And I'm fighting her, because I'm curious,” he said.  "She looks at me teary eyed and goes ‘Look. we had to make a decision - your leg or your life’."

Now, eight months later, Kemp is thriving.

"I think he's a living example of what an amputee can accomplish,” OU Medical Center Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon William Ertl said. “Never give up. Never give up.”

Kemp is making a tremendous recovery and plans on revisiting the same hiking spot Friday.