A Tesco worker was left in a coma from a suspected spider bite after handling goods from abroad.
Dad Alan Harbidge, 57, spent a month unconscious with his family at his bedside as doctors battled to save his life.
The supermarket warehouse worker had liver and kidney failure – and his fingers swelled up “like sausages” from the mystery infection.
Alan finally came around and is expected to recover – although he cannot speak for long because he had to have a tracheotomy .
Alan worked at a giant Tesco distribution centre at Magor, near Newport, South Wales, where an investigation has been launched into his sudden illness.
His sister Lynda Conniff, 56, said: “He lost a month of his life – we were told to expect the worst.
“He came home from work complaining of groin pains – his job involves lifting so we thought it was a hernia but it was followed by a rash.
“The rash got worse until it was bright red and then his fingers swelled up until they looked like fat sausages.”
Within hours Alan was on a high dependency ward at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and then moved to the intensive care unit.
Tests are being carried out to identify the cause of his illness but Alan’s family believe he may have been bitten by a tropical insect at work.
Supermarket customers have been bitten by non-poisonous spiders which have nested in imported bananas.
But Tesco, who are supporting Alan through his health scare, say their distribution centre in Magor does not handle fresh food.
Six years ago brave Alan donated bone marrow to save the life of his cancer-stricken sister Lynda.
Mum-of-four Lynda, who kept a bedside vigil with Alan’s partner Vicky, said: “He was there for me when I was told I needed a bone marrow donor to survive.
“His cells have been used five times in my fight against illness so it was my turn to do what I could for him.”
Dad-of-one Alan, of Llanedeyrn, Cardiff, lost two stone in weight as he battled the mystery illness but doctors say he will make a full recovery in time.
A Tesco spokeswoman confirmed they are aware of Alan’s illness but declined to comment until the results of medical tests are known.