Josh comes home: From crash horror to 'miracle' recovery
NINE weeks after cheating death in a crash that claimed his mate's life, Josh Harrison is back home.
It's only for weekend visits but his family is over the moon.
And they say the power of prayer has brought him back to them.
"We believe, given the extent of his injuries, that he was supernaturally healed by god," Josh's stepfather Deon White said.
"That's what we believed and we had to believe that.
"Given the extent of his injuries it was miraculous."
Josh still has a hole in his skull and until his next surgery to install a new plate, his brain visibly "wobbles" when he shakes his head.
But as he plays with the family dog in the backyard of their Sippy Downs home, it's obvious he's come a long way.
In the days following the January 6 car crash that claimed the life of Bailey Sibraa, Josh was fighting for his life in Royal Brisbane Hospital.
Deon remembers he looked lifeless and bruised. There were tubes coming from his head and chest and he was bleeding from the eyes, which were the size of "tennis balls".
But now Josh is coming home every weekend, after a recovery his family is sure was the result of divine intervention.
The ute Josh had been travelling in with two friends, all cabinetmakers or apprentices, smashed into a tree on Pacific Blvd at Buddina.
A rescue helicopter airlifted to Brisbane.
But his family knew none of that.
The first they heard of the crash was a text message to Josh's 15-year-old sister Hope Harrison from someone at the scene.
It read: "I'm sorry for your loss".
"He said, 'I don't think Josh is going to make it'. But we had no knowledge at that point where he was," Hope recalls.
At first she thought the friend was "joking around".
"But then I found out it was actually real and we read on the news on an article online that one was dead and one was airlifted to Brisbane."
As she drove to the Brisbane hospital, Josh's mum Debbie White was "terrified" of what they might find.
When they arrived at the hospital Josh was in surgery to save his life.
Doctors said his brain swelling was bad and they would need to operate again and remove a large frontal part of his skull.
In the days that followed, 14 family members slept in the hospital waiting room and "tag-teamed" to be by Josh's side.
But doctors warned that Josh might not remember them when he woke up.
"They said that Josh may be a vegetable, he won't be the same," Debbie said.
"His brain was swelling and was continuing to swell.
"The impact was so hard and fast that both layers of the skull had fractured."
But the family refused to believe the worst.
"I remember saying to a doctor, 'I believe that my son's brain cells are renewing. They're just renewing themselves'," Debbie said.
From the day after the accident, she said, people at churches on the Sunshine Coast, in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne had prayed for Josh's recovery.
A social media campaign was launched, asking people to pray for the swelling on Josh's brain to "supernaturally subside".
A Facebook page was set up to to provide updates on his recovery and a crowdfunding campaign was launched.
It has now raised more than $4000 toward his rehabilitation expenses.
"In the Christian sense, when there's just multitudes of people praying for the same thing for the same outcome, we believe it was activated and ... he was saved," Debbie said.
Deon agreed, adding that the family "couldn't face the fact of anything else" except the best possible outcome.
"You cross that bridge when you come to it ... but you don't believe it."
Six days after the crash Josh was awake, moving his arms and legs and talking. Soon after he moved from ICU to a ward.
"He was walking around, kissing us," Deon recalls.
The "miracle boy" himself says he is just happy to be able to return home on weekends, enjoy sleep-ins, PlayStation and "chill out".
He said hospital was sometimes like jail. He had to share a room with three others he felt cramped.
Hope said it was great to have Josh home.
"I love him to bits," she said. "He's just full of life again. He's (so) funny ... and just makes it home."
The family is hopeful that when the Sunshine Coast University Hospital opens, Josh's rehabilitation will continue there.