(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY)
New Zealand orders 186,000 square inches of skin from US for volcano victims
New Zealand has ordered 186,000 square inches of skin grafts from the United States to aid the burn victims from the eruption of a volcano on a popular tourist island.
Twenty-nine victims of the White Island volcano eruption Monday were in intensive care in burns units throughout New Zealand — 22 of whom were in critical condition and require airway support, Dr. Pete Watson, the chief medical officer at Counties Makanau Health of New Zealand, said in a press conference Wednesday.
A majority of the burns, said Dr. John Kenealy, the clinical director of surgery at Counties Makanau, were very severe. Some patients’ burns covered 90 to 95% of their bodies.
“We currently have stock but are urgently sourcing additional supplies to meet the demand for dressing and temporary skin grafts,” Watson said.
One person died overnight, and one Australian patient will be transported and repatriated back to the country “to enable treatment closer to home.” More Australians will follow, Watson said.
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The severity of the burns and other injuries, Watson said, is “complicated” by the gases and chemicals of the scalding steam from the eruption.
“This has necessitated more rapid surgical treatment of these burns than is the usual case for thermal only burns,” Watson said, noting that treatment for some patients may take months. Doctors, he said, are working round-the-clock to help victims.
Forty-seven people were on the island at the time of the eruption, some of whom were walking along the rim of the crater. Six deaths have been confirmed; eight others are missing and feared dead, New Zealand authorities said.
More steam and mud erupted from the volcano Wednesday, further delaying recovery efforts for the missing.
Twenty-four of the confirmed visitors on the island were Australian, nine were American, five were New Zealanders and the others were from Germany, Britain, China and Malaysia. Many were passengers on the Ovation of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.
The first confirmed death was a New Zealander, Hayden Marshall-Inman, who worked as a guide for tourists around the island.
“This number of burns is unprecedented in New Zealand,” Kenealy said, “and in the rest of the world.”
Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote