Two American tourists who suffered severe burns in the Whakaari/White Island tragedy could be just weeks away from being flown home.

Family members of Ivy Kohn Reed and Rick Reed have revealed the pair are making good progress in the burns unit at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital.

The pair were among a tour party which was heading towards a jetty on the volcanic island off the Bay of Plenty coastline when it erupted on December 9.

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Family members recently arrived in Auckland to be at their bedside, providing an update on a GoFundMe page set up to raise funds for their care, and to cover expenses as they recover.

"They reported that Ivy had another procedure done to graft skin around her head and neck," the update read.

"They also said Rick looked good. Both his legs and arms remain wrapped but no burns on his face. He was up and alert. Overall both seemed to be in good spirits."

White Island Aerial view after the volcanic eruption on December 9. Photo / George Novak
White Island Aerial view after the volcanic eruption on December 9. Photo / George Novak

The update said Rick was due to undergo another procedure on Friday. After that, "his recovery from that will likely determine the time frame".

It added that Ivy had also been able to correspond via social media.

An earlier update posted on the fundraising page by Rick's son, Mike, read it was unlikely the pair would have to undergo any more "major" surgeries.

"All of Dad's grafting has taken except for a tiny part of his finger, but this is minor," Mike said.

"Ivy had a bit more operating on her hands recently but this seems to have all taken properly.


"So at this point, a few weeks of rest before they can be flown to DC/Maryland medical care is what the most current prognosis is. We don't want to set specific dates, as we don't want to give anyone false hopes of an exact return home.

"There is still a lot of recovery and physical therapy involved, but they have taken many steps in the right direction.

"The lead surgeon's team has been truly professional and meticulous with ensuring the procedures yield desired results. When this medical team is confident in flying Dad and Ivy home, they will give the green light. So we'll continue to stay patient and wait for their update."

Mike Reed is based in Australia and had previously flown to Auckland to be with his badly injured loved ones.

In an update after a visit on December 17, an update on the GoFundMe page revealed that one of his father's surgeries had been 12 hours long.

"Rick had full skin grafting on his legs, arms and hands. Ivy also went in for another operation on her hands, not sure if grafting was involved again," the message said.

New Zealand Defence Force staff during the body recovery mission on Whakaari / White Island. Photo / NZ Police
New Zealand Defence Force staff during the body recovery mission on Whakaari / White Island. Photo / NZ Police

"The staff said Rick is feeling better after a rough night post-surgery. Hopefully he continues to make positive steps. So, this is still very much a day-by-day situation. Progress is being made, but it's a long road to recovery. I will post updates as information becomes available. Please continue to pray for Ivy and Rick."

Rick suffered burns to 30 per cent of his body in the tragedy, affecting his hands, legs and face. Ivy suffered burns to 20 per cent of her body; primarily her right leg, as well as her hands and face.

After the volcanic explosion, Ivy's brother Barry Kohn told American media that timing had played a huge part in the pair surviving the initial volcanic eruption.

"Their tour group had already visited the crater, so they were walking away," he said. "Which is, in essence, what probably saved their lives — that they were a little further away."