To some, 37-year-old Tim Friede would seem like a crazy man. To others, he would seem like a hero.
The Wisconsin man, who has no formal scientific training, has been injecting himself with snake venom for the past 16 years in an attempt to immunize himself to the poison. In a video released by Barcroft TV, a media company specializing in covering all things extreme, Friede allows himself to be bitten first by a black mamba and second by a taipan, two of the deadliest snakes on Earth.
Twenty minutes later, except for some freakish swelling, Friede seems to be fine. For those of us who haven’t injected ourselves with snake venom more than 160 times like Friede has, a bite from a black mamba or taipan could lead to death in less than an hour. While there are antivenoms for both bites, as of now, there are no inoculations against the toxins.
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“Right now I’m the only person in the world who can do what you just saw,” Friede says in the video, which went up last week. “I don’t say that arrogantly. I say it confidently.”
In fact, according to Friede, arrogance is the furthest thing from his mind. He says he’s been experimenting on himself with snake venom to prove that vaccines from the deadly bites might be possible. “I will not stop doing this until the vaccine is in the field, or I die,” he says.
Although Friede isn’t a scientist, he has been sharing his work with University of California at Davis microbiologist Brian Hanley and hopes to publish in conjunction with the researcher. “Arguing with Tim’s results is like arguing with the sky being blue,” Hanley says in the video. “It needs work, but it’s real and it fits what we know about immunology. There’s no conflict there.”
While Friede’s work may someday benefit the world, it has actually damaged his own personal relationships. His wife Beth Friede divorced him in October after having been married for 20 years. “Me and the kids never came in first,” she says in the video. “Sometimes not even second.”