Turia Pitt has taken the final step in her harrowing journey and finally had the operation she was most looking forward to.
“I’m feeling good,” smiles Turia, proudly showing off her brand-new nose. “It is a definite improvement. My face is more relaxed; it was quite tight before.
“When I see old photos of myself, I can’t believe I didn’t have a nose for so long!”
But it didn’t come without drama. After miraculously beating the odds and surviving burns to 70 per cent of her body, Turia, 27, reveals she came face to face with death once again on the operating table.
“I thought I’d wake up in the burns unit, but instead I woke up in ICU,” says Turia. “I wasn’t breathing, so they had to incubate me.”
Turia’s devoted mother Celestine Vaite and boyfriend Michael Hoskin were at the hospital when it happened.
“We went to the hospital to be there when she came out and we thought, ‘It’s the end of the journey, she’s getting her nose!’
“But then we heard the cardiac arrest alarm go off and the head nurse running towards the operating room and we thought she was gone,” Celestine tells us, with one hand firmly on her daughter’s leg.
“I said, ‘God, don’t you dare. She’s fought so hard, this girl. She fought to get out of bed, she fought to walk, she fought to accept – don’t you dare do that to her!’
“When I saw her, I went to kiss her feet and I said, ‘These feet will walk again.’ Michael and I were crying.”
For Celestine, who moved to Australia from Tahiti when Turia was 8 months old, this latest surgery has meant she’s finally able to give her daughter a Tahitian-style kiss, affectionately brushing her nose against Turia’s.
“I’ve done this with her since she was a little girl. You are passing energy – the ‘mana’ – from me to her.”
Turia will host a gala event in Sydney for Interplast on April 16. For tickets, visit trybooking.com/glex
Read all about Turia’s amazing journey and see the photos of her new nose only in Woman’s Day, on sale 16th March, 2015.