A Woman Who Survived a Volcanic Eruption Shares Her Recovery Journey and Garners Support From Millions
Stephanie Coral Browitt was only 23 years old when a family trip to an island changed her life forever. Although left with severe burns and having to deal with the loss of 2 beloved family members after a volcanic eruption, Browitt realized that giving up was never an option. She went on to share her inspiring recovery journey with millions of people while advocating for other burn survivors.
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. 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.
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.”
What part of Stephanie Coral Browitt’s story inspired you the most? Had you heard about her before reading this article?