How Is the Girl Who Miraculously Survived the Volcano Eruption Living Today
Stephanie Coral Browitt was 23 years old when she went on a long-awaited vacation with her mom, dad, and sister. However, her life was divided into before and after: a volcano erupted on the island, and Stephanie miraculously survived but sustained 70% burns. In that tragedy, she lost two members of her family, and she continues to struggle for her health to this day.
In 2019, Stephanie Coral Browitt went on a trip that would change both her and her family’s lives forever.
Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Stephanie Coral Browitt, her sister, and her parents went on a family vacation to New Zealand. Browitt, her sister, and her dad went to visit White Island, while her mom stayed on the boat. Stephanie said that only after they reached the remote island, their guides told them that the volcano’s danger level was at the second level, which is the highest level it can be before an actual eruption occurs.
“I was a little concerned ... but at the same time you sort of have trust that we wouldn’t be on here, they wouldn’t be running tours if they thought it was dangerous,” said Stephanie. Browitt recalls someone shouting for people to “Run!” before the eruption started. “It felt like a wave, like it just takes you,” she said in an interview.
She was one of 25 people that were rescued after the White Island volcano eruption.
At the time of the eruption, there were 47 people on the island, and 22 of them, unfortunately, passed away. Browitt, along with other victims, was rescued by volunteer helicopter pilots who risked their own lives to help survivors. Her sister, Krystal, couldn’t be found, and her dad told the pilots to take his daughter first. He passed away in the hospital a few weeks later.
She suffered burns over 70% percent of her body, including her face.
Not only did the terrible event claim her beloved family members’ lives, Stephanie Coral Browitt was also left with severe burns all over her body. She spent many months in the hospital recovering, including 2 weeks in a coma, fighting for her life, while also dealing with grief. “I have learned that the fight for survival is a real thing... I never knew I had this in me.”
Browitt decided to document her journey and started posting TikToks about her recovery.
While undergoing several surgeries and procedures to treat her third-degree burns, Browitt decided to join TikTok and start posting about the recovery process. In the short videos, she answered questions people asked her about her treatment, as well as shed light on the day-to-day life of a burn survivor. She quickly gained a big following, who cheered her on during these difficult times.
Her videos about her life as a burn survivor captured the attention of millions of people.
When Stephanie Coral Browitt started documenting her recovery journey on social media, she was wearing a compression mask that covered most of her face. She was also wearing protective clothing on other parts of her body to help the regeneration of her skin. On her TikTok, Browitt often answered questions about things like why the garments had to be tight, or whether her skin felt itchy while wearing them.
After more than 2 years of wearing a compression mask, she was finally able to show her face to the world.
After 30 months of wearing her face mask, Browitt was finally able to remove it and show her face to her supporters. “I don’t think I’ll ever be completely satisfied because deep down I really miss how I used to look,” she opened up about her face, admitting that she was scared of people judging her scars. But her followers continued to be one of her biggest supporters, leaving many encouraging messages after her big reveal video.
Today, Stephanie Coral Browitt continues to share her journey and advocates for other burn survivors.
Even several days after the tragedy, Stephanie continues to grapple with its aftermath. ’When you’ve had severe burns like mine, you will be receiving treatment and surgeries for the rest of your life,’ she said. “That is my reality.” She lost fingers on her hands, and her hands require constant attention. Whenever she goes outside in cold weather, her palms turn dark purple. Because of this, Stephanie regularly attends massage sessions.
Although she was able to ditch the compression garments, Browitt’s recovery journey still isn’t over, and she continues to share it with millions of people. At the same time, she is a huge advocate for other burn survivors, as well as the victims who lost their lives in the horrific tragedy. “I do wish my dad and sister were still alive and still with me and that they could be here for this moment. I just hope that I have made them proud of who I’ve become over the past few years. That’s all I can wish for.”
Here is the story of another girl who also suffered burns and had only a 1% chance of survival. She, too, shares her story and displays her scars to challenge society to stop stigmatizing unique bodies.