The 11-year-old girl shot in the face in northern Tasmania last week has woken from her coma in her Melbourne hospital bed.
Phoenix Newitt has been in the coma since she was rushed to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne in the hours after the shooting last Tuesday.
Fragments of the bullet went into her neck, brain, heart, and lungs and there were concerns she would have brain damage.
Her mother Sarah Newitt said the grade five student woke from the coma about 6:45am Sunday morning asking for her.
“[It’s] Completely overwhelming, I don’t know how to express how happy and emotional and excited I am that my little girl is finally awake after five days,” she said.
“I thought she was dead – I didn’t want to believe it in myself but that’s all I could say: ‘she’s dead’.
“I knew she’d been shot and I seriously thought I’d lost my little girl but she’s stronger than that.
“[It’s] like all your Christmases coming at once … I’ve never been so happy to hear that my daughter is awake.”
Ms Newitt said her daughter was talking and recognised family members and appeared to have full movement and co-ordination in her upper body.
“It’s overwhelming that Phoenix is still Phoenix because that is the main thing that I was scared of – that she wasn’t going to be the same little girl but I believe that she is,” Ms Newitt said.
“She recognises even her Nan and her Pop and my Aunty who was here – it’s awesome.
“Because it [one of the main fragments of bullet] is at the base of her brain there could be some likely complications with her co-ordination and balance.
“But from what I’ve been seeing her coordination looks pretty good because she’s been bringing both hands to her face, she knows what she wants and where to put them so it’s looking good to me … Balance not so sure of yet because she’s obviously still in her bed.”
Fortunately it was just ‘minor damage’, mum says
Phoenix Newitt was shot in the right side of the face as she sat in a car in Stagg Court in Deloraine with her mother, uncle, and four-year-old cousin.
Ms Newitt said the damage to her daughter’s face was minimal but the bullet broke up internally and fragments of it remain lodged in her brain and heart and lungs.
“There’s no obvious damage [to her face], by the time it matters she’s going to have a thin silver scar next to her ear that she’ll be able to cover with makeup, you’re not going to be able to tell – she’s got seven stiches and that’s it,” Ms Newitt said.
“She may be deaf in the right side but that’s only minor to what could have been … we can probably still regain some hearing or, in the future, have an implant put in which I don’t think she’ll mind at all – that’s just minor.
“The bullet actually went back into her brain and it broke vessels which made fragments of the bullet travel down to her lung and her heart.
“We’re still not completely sure what we’re going to do about that, we’re just dealing with the brain side of things at the moment and we’ll look at that in time to come.”
Nathan Richard Campbell, 25, will appear in court in Launceston this week charged with causing grievous bodily harm and recklessly discharging a firearm.
Police allege Campbell is the partner of a woman that Ms Newitt allegedly had a physical altercation with at a supermarket an hour before the shooting.