White Island survivor moved to tears

Kelsey Waghorn
Kelsey Waghorn
A Whakaari/White Island survivor who suffered severe burns in the volcanic eruption says she burst into tears when she saw that thousands of dollars had been donated towards her recovery.

‘‘I cried my eyes out when I saw it,’’ Kelsey Waghorn said yesterday.

‘‘And I read it as nine grand and it was 94 [grand].’’

Her givealittle page now tops $110,000.

The White Island tour guide said she awoke in hospital to the news that she had been in a coma for five days.

‘‘I skipped through all of that. I don’t remember all the really gnarly stuff. I don’t remember almost dying several times in surgery and being on life-support.’’

The 25-year-old sustained full thickness burns to 45% of her body when the active volcano blew on December 9.

Twenty-one people died in the disaster.

‘‘My family, they didn’t have that luxury of being doped up to the eyeballs for the first 10 days,’’ she told The Rock radio station.

Ms Waghorn remains in Hutt Valley Hospital.

‘‘I lost about 45% of my biggest organ. I’ll never get that function back of skin,’’ she said.

In December, she had skin grafts to her arms, legs, hands and lower back, with some touch-ups on her upper arms.

The marine scientist has undergone more than a dozen surgeries since the volcano blew.

‘‘So there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears put into getting me where I am today after my final graftings,’’ she said in a recent update to her givalittle page.

Ms Waghorn said she had had skin grafts described as a ‘‘big biological plaster’’.

‘‘So I’ll never sweat, I won’t grow hair from there, my body won’t exude oil through my skin normally.’’

But learning to walk again was a mission in itself, she said.

‘‘For the next two years [I’m] going to have to do rehab and physio and obviously watch what I knock into and stuff like that, because my skin’s very thin.’’ 

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