Burns victim back home today

A TAMWORTH teenager who suffered severe burns to 25 per cent of his body following a horrific classroom accident will be welcomed home today.

Josh McCulloch, 13, will touch down at Tamworth airport this afternoon after receiving more than three weeks intensive treatment at the Westmead Children’s Hospital’s burns unit.

The Tamworth High School Year 8 student sustained extensive burns to his back, shoulder and moderate burns to the side of his face when a science experiment involving methylated spirits went horribly wrong on February 28.

He was rushed by air to Sydney’s Westmead Hospital hours after the freak accident, where he endured a number of painful surgeries to clean his wounds as well as skin-grafting, the latter requiring him to lay motionless for seven days.

Despite all he has gone through, the brave youngster is itching to get back home and return to school to see his mates, mum Janet Ryan told The Leader on Friday.

The mother-of-three said she was extremely proud of her young son, who had shown maturity well beyond his years throughout the whole ordeal.

“I’d prepared myself mentally for the fact he would be spending 24-hours a day on his stomach not being able to move much, but when I walked in it broke my heart,” the mother-of-three said.

“But he accepted it and was just so brave and didn’t complain.

“He was very mindful of the fact that he needed to be still and lay on his stomach as it was all part of making sure the grafts heal.

“He was such a strong and patient boy.”

Impressively, the 13-year-old, whose legs where the skin grafts were harvested were especially sore, appeared to have made a miraculous recovery in recent times.

“Just for him to get out of bed would take five minutes,” Mrs Ryan recalled.

“A wriggle here and a wriggle there just to get out of bed to go to the toilet was an achievement on its own. He’s had much more movement in the last 24 hours ... he was literally incapable of doing anything before and now its just incredible.”

Yesterday the die-hard Manly Eagles supporter was picked up by club officials and taken to watch his team go head-to-head with the Parramatta Eels where he was given special VIP treatment and the chance to meet his idols.

He is expected to return to Sydney on Sunday to have his bandages changed and will undergo intensive physiotherapy here in town.

The circumstances surrounding the incident are being investigated by the Department of Education and Communities.

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