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Shot Exchange Student To Return Home Soon

5 February 2008

Shot Exchange Student To Return Home Soon

(Media please note, Mr and Mrs Purchase and their son Matthew are unavailable for individual interviews. They would like to thank the media for their continued sensitivity.)

The 21-year-old English agricultural exchange student shot in the head while out rabbit shooting near Putaruru in December last year is expected to fly home to Dorset sometime in the next fortnight.

Matthew John Purchase has made a remarkable recovery since the December 8 shooting on a farm at Waotu, 10km south-west of Putaruru in the central North Island of New Zealand. Matthew was shot at close range with a .22 calibre rifle.

A 48-year-old Danish tourist pleaded not guilty in the Tokoroa District Court today to careless use of a firearm causing bodily injury.

Matthew's parents Ian and Helen Purchase today said they were unable to comment on the case while it was before the court but said they had faith in the New Zealand judiciary system.

The Danish tourist had not had any contact with Matthew since the shooting, said Mr Purchase.

Matthew underwent brain surgery from noted Waikato Hospital neurosurgeon Dr Venkataraman Balakrishnan five days after the shooting.

On Christmas Day his improvement was such that he was transferred to the hospital's neurosurgery ward.

Matthew spoke his first words more than a fortnight ago acknowledging his mother's presence.

Two weeks ago he was discharged from Waikato Hospital to community care and continues to regain some movement as a result of his rehabilitation.

His parents have obtained a place for him at a rehabilitation unit near their Wimborne home in Dorset.

"Although he has made improvement his rehabilitation is very much a long-term issue for both him and us his family. We are looking forward to returning home so we can all be together again and his friends can also be involved in his recovery."

Mr Purchase said his son's recovery was a miracle. He paid tribute to the medical staff at Waikato Hospital, particularly Dr Balakrishnan, and other doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and staff in both the neurosurgical ward and elsewhere in the hospital.

"It's fair to say when we arrived in New Zealand 48 hours after the shooting, we were told to expect the worst so to have our son back talking to us, moving his arms and legs and regaining sight in his eye is beyond anything we could have imagined back then," said Mr Purchase.

His rehabilitation in the community was also going well, he said.

Matthew had been milking cows and doing contracting work on a South Waikato dairy farm on an agricultural exchange with Agri Venture NZ. He was expected to stay in the South Waikato area working until April and then planned to do some more travelling before returning to the UK later this year.

ENDS

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