White Island volcano survivor Stephanie Browitt has shared harrowing details about her road to recovery.
Ms Browitt, 23, suffered third degree burns to 70 per cent of her body, while her sister and father were killed in the December 2019 eruption off the east coast of New Zealand.
On Sunday the Victorian woman, from Craigieburn in Melbourne, described the agonising process of undergoing skin grafts and having to learn to walk again.
‘My legs needed multiple surgeries before they were fully covered, so I’d be up and walking (sort of) and then I’d need another surgery and I’d be set back all over again. It was really upsetting,’ she said.
White Island volcano survivor Stephanie Browitt (pictured) has shared harrowing details about her long road to recovery and the frustration around having to learn to walk again
The Victorian woman shared a picture after her recent skin graft surgery describing the agonising pain she has had to endure during her recovery
After having more skin taken from her thighs and behind her knee to help heal other areas of her body, Ms Browitt said the pain was almost unbearable.
‘Let me tell you, the donor sites are the most painful things I’ve ever experienced,’ she wrote.
The young woman also recalled a moment she felt at her lowest when a burns nurse told her she would be walking within two days.
‘Me being in such pain angrily saying ”nope”, she goes ”yeah you will” and walks off,’ she wrote.
Ms Browitt said the session began with her struggling to stand with the aid of a walker and nurses.
After struggling through a few steps her frustration boiled over before the burns nurse returned and saw her walking.
Ms Browitt suffered third degree burns to 70 per cent of her body in the December, 2019 eruption also and had to have her fingers amputated in June (White Island volcano pictured)
Ms Browitt’s 21-year-old sister Krystal (pictured right) and father, Paul, were killed along with 19 other tourists when the volcano erupted on December 9, 2019
‘Honestly when I think of this moment it makes me laugh so much, but it also taught me something,’ she wrote.
‘You can do anything as long as you don’t tell yourself the opposite.’
Meanwhile, back in June, Mr Browitt revealed her fingers had to be amputated.
‘I wasn’t that upset,’ she said of the experience. ‘I was grateful I still had my hands because when the eruption happened I remember seeing my hands and realising how bad they were.
‘My nails were hanging off, skin in shreds and also peeling off and they were black and red in colour, (blood/ash)’.
Surgeons at The Alfred in Melbourne worked tirelessly to save her hands, and Ms Browitt said she was eternally grateful for the efforts of staff.
‘They put so much care into my hands with my skin grafts… They’ve healed amazingly,’ she said.
In June Mr Browitt revealed her fingers had to be amputated (pictured) but said she wasn’t upset about it because of how badly her hands had been injured in the eruption
The 23-year-old survivor (pictured) has been supported by her mother, Maria, who chose to stay back on the cruise ship before the eruption
She has been supported by her mother, Maria, who chose to stay back on the cruise ship rather than visit the island with her husband and daughters.
Ms Browitt’s 21-year-old sister Krystal and father, Paul, were killed along with 19 other people when the volcano erupted on December 9, 2019.
When first responders arrived on the scene after the explosion, Mr Browitt urged them to save his girls before coming back for him.
Krystal was tragically killed in the initial blast, while Mr Browitt died later in hospital.
Ms Browitt has spent the last seven months painstakingly rebuilding her life and recovering in hospital.
Ms Browitt has spent the last seven months painstakingly rebuilding her life and recovering in hospital but said the tragedy still feels like it happened ‘just yesterday’
She said despite the time that has passed, she remembers the eruption like it was ‘just yesterday’.
‘Honestly, every time it’s the ninth of each month I can feel my heart racing and my body tense as the memory of it floods back in my mind,’ Ms Browitt wrote on Instagram.
‘I get anxious. I hate it so much, it does not get easier. It just hurts more and more when I think about how much time has passed since I was last with my dad and sister.’
She said she keeps wishing she could turn back time and at least have looked for her sister and father and sat with them during the aftermath.
‘We’re just picking up the pieces of our new lives and doing the best that we can do.
‘I just want to thank everyone for your kindness, compassion and constant support. You guys manage to put a smile on my face, even if just for a second.’
Ms Browitt (pictured with her father Paul) said despite the time that has passed, she remembers the eruption like it was ‘just yesterday’