She's endured blood clots, infections, skin grafts and full thickness burns to around 45 per cent of her body since an active volcano erupted underneath her.

But Whakaari/White Island survivor Kelsey Waghorn says she's "doing really well".

The 25-year-old doesn't remember much from her time in ICU after the disaster, which has killed 21 people - some of them colleagues from White Island tours.

Two days after Whakaari spewed steam and toxic gas from its depths, she had her arms, hands and a small portion of her stomach grafted.

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"My legs, lower back and some touch ups on my upper arms had their donor/cadaver skin removed and were grafted on December 27th," Waghorn wrote in an update on her Givealittle page.

As this involved harvesting skin from her back and butt a second time, as well as some strips from her upper thighs, Waghorn wrote the procedures were uncomfortable, "to put it gently".

"By this stage, I'd been [painfully] upright only twice between these two graftings with a lot of assistance from my beautiful physio, family and a handful of nurses."

White Island as it erupted on December 9. Photo / Supplied
White Island as it erupted on December 9. Photo / Supplied

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."

Waghorn remains in hospital two months on from the volcanic blast.

"Monday marks 9 weeks since Whakaari decided she would clear her throat. 9 weeks since I received full thickness burns to about 45% of my body. 9 weeks since I lost work colleagues and good friends."

Fellow guides Tipene Maangi and Hayden Marshall-Inman were killed by the eruption.

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Nineteen-year-old tour guide Jake Milbank remains in Middlemore Hospital, suffering burns to 80 per cent of his body.

An aerial view of Whakaari / White Island after the deadly eruption which claimed the lives of 21 people. Bay of Plenty Times photograph / George Novak
An aerial view of Whakaari / White Island after the deadly eruption which claimed the lives of 21 people. Bay of Plenty Times photograph / George Novak

"I am fairly mobile now, albeit wobbly and minus some strength," Waghorn wrote.

"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."


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Her heart was racing up to 157 beats per minute at one point of her five-day coma.

Nowadays, it still sits around 100 beats per minute, Waghorn wrote.

But she's recovering, quickly.

"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 thanked everyone who had reached out to her and her family or contributed to her Givealittle page, where donations have soared to over $100,000.

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

"I wouldn't be here without you."