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Young Man Who Survived Horrific Volcano Eruption Reveals Heroic Journey Back To Health
Jake Milbank
Uplifting News

Young Man Who Survived Horrific Volcano Eruption Reveals Heroic Journey Back To Health

Jake Milbank survived a volcanic eruption and though the road to recovery was hard, he has shown inspiring strength in the process.

Working as a tour guide in the scenic White Island of New Zealand sounds like a dream come true for an adventurous teenager, unless of course, the unthinkable happens.

At 19, Jake Milbank was working as a tour guide on White Island when he was caught in the middle of a killer volcanic eruption. The damage went beyond the imaginable: he was burned across 80% of his body.


He survived where so many had died

Considered an active volcano, many have questioned the decision to allow tourist to visit White Island. More than 18 000 people travel to that spot every year.

What's even more sinister is that, only six days before the deadly eruption happened, volcanologist had indicated a level 2 alert for White Island--the most dangerous level a volcano can be at without erupting.

Out of the 47 people on the island, 19 had been killed by the eruption that happened on December 9th 2019, while 2 are still missing. Of the survivors, 18 have been treated for critical burns, including Jake.

Talking to Newshub, Milbank shared his "fight-or-flight" response after the eruption began. “You know what you've gotta do to survive and that's all I was really thinking about doing at the time," Jake confessed. "Of course I was frightened a little bit... but it all came down to that fight or flight kind of thing."

Eventually, a tour boat rescued the survivors and Jake did everything he could to remain conscious and awake on the journey back to the mainland.

(I was) just trying to stay awake, and constantly reminding myself and having others around me reminding me that ...it was all gonna be all good.

Jake Milbank to The Sun

He eventually spent months in hospital - including two weeks in a coma - where he underwent 25 operations. "I was in a coma for two weeks and when I did come out of the coma I was on a lot of different drugs so I wasn't quite there for the first month."

His road to recovery is nothing short of inspiring

Recovering from such a life-altering event, both physically and mentally, is certainly no easy feat. But Jake's perspective on his journey towards getting better is a lesson in celebrating small victories.

There's nothing I can do about it except try my hardest to get back to where I was before the eruption, there's no point at looking at it negatively.

Jake Milbank

To get back on his feet, Jake has been undergoing rehab and relearning even the most basic of movements. Slowly, he is getting better and is thinking positively about reclaiming his life.

Every day you notice, ‘Oh I can take my sock off a little bit further' or something like that, it is pretty cool to see.

Jake Milbank

Jake wants to go back

Jake is now back home in Whakatane, from where he can see White Island and looks forward to when he'll able to travel back there and visit it again.

It does send shivers down the spine a little bit, gives you the goosebumps. I wouldn't get too close, but yeah I definitely would like to go and have another look.

More than £100,000 was raised for the his recovery through a Give a Little fundraiser.

"I definitely didn't expect the amount of support that we did get - it's awesome to see people from all over the world took time out of their days to let me know they're there for me," he said.

And despite his 19 years, he has shown a lot of strength and wisdom in the way he dealt with his plight. He even hopes to start fishing with his friends again, once he regains his full mobility.

It's definitely been a challenge, but I mean, all it's really gonna do is build character.

Jake Milbank

Recovery is not an all-or-nothing process

Jake's story is one of resilience but it also highlights an important aspect of recovery: you have to celebrate small victories. And yes, the majority of us may never live what Jake endured, but that doesn't make the statement any less true.

Whether you are recovering from a physical injury, illness or a traumatic experience, small or large, it's important to make a point to remember your progress.

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