American tourists burned in White Island eruption 'making excellent progress'

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 16 Jan 2020, 9:16PM
Newlyweds Matt and Lauren Urey have been in hospital since the eruption of Whakaari, but hope to return home soon. Photo / Supplied
Newlyweds Matt and Lauren Urey have been in hospital since the eruption of Whakaari, but hope to return home soon. Photo / Supplied

American tourists burned in White Island eruption 'making excellent progress'

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 16 Jan 2020, 9:16PM

The newlywed tourists severely burned in Whakaari/White Island's devastating eruption are hopeful they will soon head home.

Lauren and Matt Urey were among the 47 people on or near the volcano when it suddenly erupted weeks before Christmas last year.

The disaster has claimed the lives of 20 people.

The recently wed Ureys booked a cruise to celebrate their honeymoon aboard the Ovation of the Seas, which offered an excursion to the active volcano.

A number of those visiting Whakaari when it erupted were from the cruise ship.

Friend of the couple Joan Mooney told the Ohio-based WKBN news the Ureys were out of intensive care and are expected to make a full recovery.

"They are making excellent progress. The doctors are amazed and their families are ecstatic because they've made such significant progress in a short time."

Despite receiving treatment in separate hospitals in the country, the newlyweds talked every day.

Mooney said they hoped to return home to Richmond, Virginia, in three to four weeks.

"They are both very determined to keep their lives the way they were and just keep moving forward with it and just concentrate on getting well," she said.

Lauren Urey and husband Matthew Urey were visiting Whakaari on a cruise ship excursion when the volcano erupted. Photo / File

Lauren Urey and husband Matthew Urey were visiting Whakaari on a cruise ship excursion when the volcano erupted. Photo / File

In the moments after the eruption, Matthew's mother Janet received a frantic voicemail from her son, describing the eruption and the severe burns he and wife Lauren had sustained.

The Washington Post reported that Matthew's hands were so badly burnt he struggled to make a phone call to his family.

"It was very traumatic. A lot of tears, a lot of crying from Jan [Matt's mother], but she learned to kind of look for little victories each day," Mooney told WKBN news.

An update on the couple's hospital recovery was posted on their Gofundme page at Matthew's request.

"Matt wants everyone to know that he and Lauren are doing well," it read.

"They are hopeful that they will be returning home soon."

"Most of all, Matt wants to thank everyone for the support, encouragement, and for the donations that you have made to him and Lauren."

Meanwhile, another American couple struck in the tragedy have kept up a "positive attitude" and may be home at the end of this month.

Ivy Kohn Reed and Rick Reed suffered severe burns in the eruption and have had multiple surgeries since the disaster.

A recent update on their Gofundme page by Ivy's son Barry said spending time with the pair in Auckland had been "both heartbreaking and encouraging."

While he was taken aback at seeing his loved ones severely burnt, Kohn said their overall positive attitudes and healthy spirits shone through.

Rick Reed and Ivy Kohn Reed were visiting Whakaari/White Island when the volcano erupted on December 9. Photo / Supplied

Rick Reed and Ivy Kohn Reed were visiting Whakaari/White Island when the volcano erupted on December 9. Photo / Supplied

Ivy Kohn Reed, who suffered burns to about 20 per cent of her body, is totally mobile and can move around freely, her son said.

"She recently had some additional skin grafts on her chin and neck, and her focus is on letting them heal, as well as those on her hands.

"She is working with the physical and occupational therapists daily on keeping everything loose and supple."

Rick remains on bed rest following his most recent regrafting procedure last week.

"This morning his legs were examined but the doctors believe the grafts on his Achilles are still too tenuous for him to start walking," Kohn said.

Rick, who suffered burns over 30 per cent of his body, will be re-examined next week but is expected to be up to using a wheelchair until then.

The two are expected to return to the United States as soon as Rick can walk independently.

"We believe the end of the month remains a reasonable estimate," Kohn said.