22 February 2008
Shot Exchange Student Homeward Bound
Matthew Purchase, the English agricultural exchange student shot in the head while out rabbit shooting near Putaruru in December last year, flew out of Hamilton International Airport today (3.30pm) bound for home.
The 22-year-old was on a specially chartered Lear Jet air ambulance staffed by a doctor and nurse. The plane is expected to make eight stops before landing at Bournemouth Airport in England's South Coast tomorrow.
Meanwhile his mother Helen Purchase was to catch a scheduled flight home from Auckland Airport later today.
Matthew's father Ian returned to the family's Wimborne farm in Dorset last week. The family have secured a bed in Poole Hospital's specialist brain injury ward about 20 minutes from their home.
Before she left Mrs Purchase paid tribute to staff at Waikato Hospital and in particular noted neurosurgeon Dr Venkataraman Balakrishnan who operated on Matthew five days after the December 8 shooting.
In late January Matthew was discharged from Waikato Hospital to community care at Phoenix House Rehabilitation Centre in Hamilton where his progress was a source of great inspiration. He took his first steps last week but had a setback this week when he had a series of fits which saw him readmitted to Waikato Hospital.
"I'd like to thank everyone who cared for Matthew - from when he arrived at the Emergency Department, to his time in intensive care, the high dependency unit and then finally Ward 8," she said.
"I spoke to a nurse who triaged Matthew on the night he arrived and who spoke to him yesterday and she was just amazed at his recovery."
Mrs Purchase also thanked the owner of Lakepoint Motel in Hamilton where she and her husband stayed after their desperate dash to be with their son.
"John (the owner) has been great and I'd also like to thank all the New Zealand people who have supported us and given us good wishes."
Matthew, who does not remember the shooting but does remember his time in New Zealand before that, thanked his parents for their support.
A 48-year-old Danish tourist pleaded not guilty in the Tokoroa District Court to careless use of a firearm causing bodily injured. The court case is set down for a depositions hearing in Tokoroa on Monday (February 25). All evidence will be in written form.