Classic Rock UK recently conducted an interview with Jeff Hanneman, check out the transcript below.
"I was an hour away from death"
How Slayer's Jeff Hanneman survived flesh-eating disease.
Jeff Hanneman was kicking back in a hot tub with a couple of beers when he nearly died. The Slayer guitarist certainly was not partying hard, but he was relaxed enough to not notice a spider bite him on the arm.
"Didn't even feel it," he says now. "But an hour later, I knew that I was ill".
By that time, Hanneman was on his way to hospital, a further hour away. In the car, he pulled up his sleeve, "I could see the flesh corrupting," he recalls. "The arm was real hot. I got to the emergency room, and thank god the nurse knew straight away what it was. By chance, although its pretty rare, she had seen a case a little while before. At that point, I was an hour away from death."
The spider bite was not serious in itself, but it had caused bacterial infection in the deeper layers of the skin and tissues of the arm. The clinical diagnosis was Necrotizing Fascitis, which is more widely known as Flesh-Eating disease.
"Unbeliveably, the dotor was a Slayer fan," says Hanneman, "first thing he said to me was: 'First I am going to save your life. Then I am going to save your arm. Then I am going to save your career'."
Hanneman underwent emergency surgery to remove the dead and dying tissue. The doctor was able to save the muscles and the tendons, but the guitarist had a large open wound on his arm. He spent the next two months in hospital, having extensive skin grafts and heavy doses of antibiotics to suppress the infection.
"I had to learn to walk again," Hanneman says: "I hadn't stood up for a month, apart from anything else. The skin grafts were very painful and all the muscles and tendons in the arm where very weak. That was ok though. I count myself lucky that the nurse and doctor knew right away what had happened to me, because things could have been a whole lot worse."
While Slayer fufilled their touring commitments with stand in guitarist Gary Holt, Hanneman has spent most of 2011 rehabilitating. With the worst of it behind him, Hanneman can see the humour in the situation too.
"Its the kind of thing I might have written a song about," he acknowledges. "Everything that could go wrong this year did, but you know, it turned out okay. Satan had my back". http://www.slayerized.com/whatsnew/2011 ... rom-death/