After spending six months in hospital fighting for her life, a White Island volcano survivor has returned to her home in Melbourne.
Stephanie Browitt, 23, arrived back at her family home in Craigieburn, just north of Melbourne, on Friday.
The emotional moment was captured on camera, showing Ms Browitt gingerly hugging her mother Marie while wearing a pressure suit to cushion her burns.
The 23-year-old’s face was obscured by a full-face mask.
Ms Browitt suffered third-degree burns to 70 per cent of her body and lost parts of her fingers in the eruption off the coast of Whakatāne on December 9.
She was one of 38 people on the island, along with her father Paul and 21-year-old sister Krystal, who both died.
Ms Browitt’s mother Marie remained on board the cruise ship that fateful day.
The family first noticed ash shooting into the sky about 2pm when they were walking back to the boat, but had no idea they were in danger.
Her father Paul even encouraged Krystal to take a photo.
“That’s when the front tour guide, Hayden, must’ve heard us or something, I’m not sure, but he yelled ‘run!’,” Ms Browitt told Four Corners.
Now, six months later, she has finally been able to return home.
At first, Ms Browitt only returned home for day trips and visited her dog. But she’s now home for good.
Ms Browitt was greeted by friends and relatives when the patient transport vehicle pulled up out the front of her home, but only hugged her mum, to protect her fragile skin.
In a social media post, the survivor outlined the extent of her injuries.
“My legs are fully burnt and most of my outer thighs,” Ms Browitt said on Instagram.
“I’ve had many skin grafts on them and also because I was bed ridden for months, I had to learn how to walk again. 4 + months later and I’m now running.
“I’m glad with how I’m going, but I have a long road of recovery ahead and gaining back my independence.
“Stretching well (sic) be a daily routine so that my skin doesn’t tighten up again,” Ms Browitt went on.
“Future surgeries well (sic) be required.
“Therapy well continue for months and months. And of course mentally I’ll never fully recover from this.
“But I’m trying my best to focus on what I can change and not what I can’t.”