A teenage tour guide who suffered burns to 80 per cent of his body when New Zealand’s White Island volcano erupted last year has been allowed out of hospital for the first time in three months.
Jake Milbank was leading a tour group with White Island Tours when the eruption occurred on December 9, killing 21 people and seriously injuring many more.
The 19-year-old on Wednesday shared a photo with an update on his condition to Instagram, expressing his joy at being able to see his dog last week, their first reunion since the incident.
“After more than three long months in hospital things are finally starting to look up as my medical team have cleared me for day leave,” he wrote in a caption to the post.
“The first thing on my list was to go and see this little cutie (his dog) who hasn’t seen me in a whopping 1.8 dog years.”
He described it “such an awesome feeling to be back out in the real world breathing in some fresh air”.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped me get to this point, I couldn’t have done it without you all.”
Hundreds of people shared their well-wishes in comments and praised the teenager for the way he has handled himself.
“Mate you’re a legend and an inspiration with your positivity and strength. All the best with the recovery,” one person wrote.
“Sending my love, hope you continue to recover from your tragic ordeal. You are an absolute inspiration,” another said.
Mr Milbank has endured 23 trips to theatre while being treated at Middlemore Hospital, in Auckland, and said in an update to his Give A Little page on Wednesday that he was “now fully grafted”.
That meant that while he was finished taking trips to surgery, he had a gruelling regime of physiotherapy ahead.
“From walking on the treadmill to pumping iron (a 1kg weight in each hand) we are seeing improvements every day. I am finally beginning to gain weight and have put on three kgs in the last three weeks,” he wrote.
Mr Milbank had been receiving frequent visits from family and friends, who had shown “amazing” support throughout his recovery.
He was not sure when he would be allowed home permanently and for now was focussed on his rehabilitation.
“I am looking forward to sharing some more good news regarding my recovery with you all in the future.”
Adelaide woman Lisa Dallow woke from her coma in Melbourne's Alfred Hospital last month to the news her daughter Zoe Hosking and husband Gavin Dallow were killed in the eruption.
Of the 47 people reportedly on the island at the time, 21 were killed instantly or later succumbed to their injuries.
Most of the victims were Australian tourists.
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