Aimee Copeland Recovering From Zip-Line Injury But May Lose Other Leg, Hands, To Flesh Eating Bacteria

 
on May 11 2012 10:55 AM

University of West Georgia student Aimee Copeland, who is fighting the flesh eating disease necrotizing fasciitis after a zip line injury, is recovering slowly despite the amputation of her left leg. Her family remains optimistic, though doctors say they may have to amputate her other leg and both her hands.

Copeland, a 24-year-old Master's Degree candidate is still hooked up to a ventilator.

Her condition is still critical, said Copeland's father, Andy, in a press conference, according to ABC News. If they were to unhook the ventilator, I don't know that she could breathe on her own.

Copland had gone on a kayaking trip with her friends in Carrollton, Georgia. She spontaneously decided to try out a homemade zip line over a river during the vacation. But the line ended up breaking, leaving Copeland a large gash on her left calf. She received 22 staples and a prescription for painkillers for the injury last week.

She went to the hospital again on Thursday complaining of severe pain and was released with a prescription for antibiotics.

On Friday a doctor in the ER diagnosed her with necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh eating bacteria that eats through skin, muscle, and tissue. Lab tests confirmed she has the Aeromonas hydrophila strand, a bacteria generally found in warm climates and waters, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Andy told WSBTV that doctors may have to remove her right foot and both her hands.

I couldn't conceive of what it would be like for my daughter to lose her hands and the only other foot she has as well and that appears to be what is going to happen, he said.

Copeland's sister Paige, wrote on the 'Believe and pray for a miracle to happen for Aimee Copeland' Facebook page that she was responsive and understood what was going on.

Seeing Aimee this morning was so refreshing. Her eyes are wide open and she is nodding or shaking her head to the questions we ask, wrote Paige on the Facebook page. My hope for her recovery is stronger than ever!

Necrotizing fasciitis is mainly caused by Strep A bacteria. It can usually be treated with antibiotics, but every once in a while a strong variety of Strep A appears that can be life threatening, destroying muscles, skin, and tissue.

The bacteria produce enzymes that can dissolve muscle deep down, said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases to ABC News. And because it's so deep, it can be a sneaky infection that's not immediately appreciated by the patient.

Copeland's classmate Ken Lewis wrote in a blog post on the University of West Georgia Psychology department student website that she was very responsive and coherent and that she was responding to specific commands, and even selected the music that she wanted to listen to.

The neurologist says that there is no indication of any brain damage.  The cardiopulmonologist says that her lungs are slowly healing, he wrote. According to the post, doctors are considering amputating her other leg and hangs because the blood vessels in the extremities have died.

Doctors say it will take her months to recover from the disease. They still are not sure how she contracted it. However, Copeland's family remains optimistic about her progress.

What we've got is nothing short of a miracle. My baby is alive and her mind is good. I know we have a difficult road ahead, but right now we're rejoicing, he said to the Daily Mail.

She looks so much better, said Paige Copeland, to ABC News. I just told her if she keeps improving like this, she'll be out of here in no time.

Copeland's mother remains cautious about her daughter's future.

We want to think that way, but it can just change, she said to the Daily Mail. It's like a rollercoaster every day.

Copeland is completing her master's degree in Psychology at the University of West Georgia. Her father said she is a lover of people who wants to help people going through trauma.  

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