Stephanie Browitt suffered burns to 70 per cent of her body
A White Island survivor has shared images of the horrific burns left on her back by the blast that killed her family, as she opens up about her painful recovery.
Stephanie Browitt suffered burns to 70 per cent of her body in the volcano eruption near Whakatane, New Zealand, on December 9, last year.
The 24-year-old from Melbourne, who lost her father and sister in the disaster, had her fingers amputated and wears a full face mask to protect her healing skin.
In a revealing Instagram post on Saturday, Ms Browitt put her insecurities to the side in a brave attempt to share her experience with disfiguring injuries.
‘For me personally, my back is one of the areas I struggle to feel comfortable with as the healing process continues,’ she wrote.
Three photographs, captured in March, April and August, showed a tangle of red and raw scar tissue covering the expanse of her back.
In the post, Ms Browitt highlighted the improvements in her skin in the months following the explosion.
Ms Browitt put her insecurities to the side in a brave attempt to share her experience with disfiguring injuries (pictured: her healing back in March 2020)
‘For me personally, my back is one of the areas I struggle to feel comfortable with as the healing process continues,’ she wrote. Pictured: Ms Browitt’s back in April
‘For me personally, my back is one of the areas I struggle to feel comfortable with as the healing process continues,’ she wrote. Pictured: Her back in August
‘Comparing these photos and how much my back has changed over time absolutely amazes me.’
‘How the skin heals is astounding and seeing the changes first hand is just so interesting to me.’
Though her skin is slowly recovering, she explained that bending down can be difficult because the scars on her back are tight.
‘But I’m constantly stretching and setting new goals for myself. I just have to keep pushing to be my very best self.’
The 24-year-old has been detailing her rehabilitation on social media to share an insight into the daily life of a burns survivor.
Videos on TikTok and Youtube reveal her daily routine, which includes moisturising, stretching out her new skin and doing exercise.
Earlier in September, she uploaded three pictures of her legs dating back to April 27, highlighting the incredible transformation her body has gone through in her healing.
‘My skin colour is improving amazingly and it’s so exciting to see,’ Ms Browitt posted.
Ms Browitt is among 26 survivors of the blast and now wears a face mask to protect her skin
The 24-year-old has been detailing her rehabilitation on social media to share an insight into the daily life of a burns survivor (pictured: Ms Browitt before the accident, and after)
‘I’m also starting to find areas of my legs that have returned back to being soft and supple like skin should feel.
‘Any sight of improvement is always a great boost of motivation for me to keep going and to stay strong and hopeful.
‘I know that this journey has definitely made feel so grateful towards my body and what it can do.’
Her 21-year-old sister Krystal and father Paul were among 16 Australians who died in the blast.
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 took to Instagram to show a recovery sequence of her legs from the burns. Photo from 27 April
Ms Browitt’s skin colour on her legs is shown returning to form in a picture dated 15 July
Ms Browitt spent nine months painstakingly rebuilding her life and recovering in hospital.
She previously 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,’ she said.
‘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.’
Before the tragedy, more than 18,000 tourists would visit the White Island volcano each year.
Stephanie (left with sister Krystal right) tragically lost her sister in the disaster and her father Paul
Ms Browitt (pictured with her father Paul) said despite the time that has passed, she remembers the eruption like it was ‘just yesterday’