Tour guide with 80% burns after New Zealand volcano eruption leaves hospital

A teenage tour guide who was badly injured when a volcano erupted in New Zealand, killing 21 people, has had his first day away from hospital in months.

Jake Milbank was just 19 when he suffered 80% burns during the December 9 devastation on the White Island.

He had been on the island leading a tour and was among those rescued by White Island Tours boat skippered by Paul Kingi.

The youngster had been in Middlemore Hospital ever since, but on Wednesday shared an Instagram post saying he was being allowed out on day release.

His post, which showed a photo of Jake and his dog read: "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.

"The first thing on my list was to go and see this little cutie who hasn’t seen me in a whopping 1.8 dog years.

"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."

In a message posted to his Givealittle page today, Jake also shared details about his hard road to recovery so far, including that his skin has now been "fully grafted".

"The last 94 days have been the most challenging days of my life but each and every one of them I have been getting stronger and stronger.

"To date I have had 23 trips to theatre, and more recently my nurses have began doing my dressing changes on the ward and, as of last week, I have started to have my dressings changed in my own room in the burns unit.

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 3 kgs in the last three weeks.

"I am looking forward to spending more time out of the hospital and eventually being home with my friends and family but at this stage we are not quite sure when that might be, meaning that for now my main focus is getting in the gym with my rehab team."

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