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'Huge progress' - White Island tour guide shares moving update following string of 'uncomfortable' surgeries

A young Whakatāne tour guide critically injured in the Whakaari/White Island eruption says she is doing well despite having to go through a string of "uncomfortable" skin grafts and surgeries. 

Kelsey Waghorn Source: Givealittle

Kelsey Waghorn, 25, had been working with White Island Tours for five years before the eruption. Her workmate and friend Hayden Marshall-Inman lost his life in the disaster.

In total 21 people died in and after the December 9 volcanic eruption, with others including Ms Waghorn still recovering in hospitals here and overseas.

The eruption saw Ms Waghorn sustain full thickness burns to 45% of her body, according to her Givealittle page

While her journey to recovery hasn't been without complication, Ms Waghorn had some good news to share on the page. 

"I’m doing really well," she wrote.

"Everything is healing twice as fast as anyone predicted, and although I have my moments, I am proud of the huge progress I have made. I’m covered in scars and relocated skin, and that’s okay with me.

She explained that her body is fairly mobile now, albeit wobbly and minus some strength. 

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Tour guide critically injured in White Island eruption posts touching tribute to Hayden Marshall-Inman

"I am slowly regaining the use of both of my hands - my right is worse than my left. But I’m working on that everyday." 

Ms Waghorn said there have been complications including blood clots and infections, but it never got "too bad". 

Her arms, hands and a small portion of her stomach were grafted on December 11t and she doesn't remember a lot of her time in ICU. 

"My legs, lower back and some touch ups on my upper arms had their donor/cadaver skin removed and were grafted on December 27th," she wrote.

Whakaari/White Island pictured on December 11, 2019. Source: 1 NEWS

"Now this proved to be quite uncomfortable (to put it gently...) given that my back and butt were harvested a second time, along with some strips from my upper thighs."

She said by this stage she had been "painfully upright only twice between the two graftings" with a lot of assistance from her physio, nurses, and family.

"So there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears put into getting me where I am today after my final graftings," Ms Waghorn wrote.

More than $100,000 has been raised so far through Givealitle for Ms Waghorn, her immediate family and partner.

"Once again, thank you thank you thank you to everyone for their donations, their kind words, their time and hard work," she wrote.

"I wouldn’t be here without you."