By Jueseppi B.
Smiles all around: Aimee Copeland has been pictured for the first time since she lost her limbs to flesh-eating bacteria. The image shows her grinning outside the hospital with her parents
You may not believe in God. You may not believe in modern medicine. You can believe in the human spirit. Ms. Aimee Copland, The young woman whose body was attacked by a flesh-eating bacteria is finally making preparations to leave hospital, nearly two months after she arrived.
Aimee Copeland, from Georgia, is finally moving into a rehabilitation centre after the aggressive disease forced doctors to amputate her left leg, right foot and both hands.
Her delighted family say the 24-year-old will be transferred on Monday and will spend several weeks learning to move, before gradually returning to normal life.
Flesh-eating bacteria victim Aimee is finally preparing to leave hospital after nearly two months of painful recovery
- Aimee Copeland, 24, was yesterday pictured for first time since having left leg, right foot and both hands amputated
- Parents took her outdoors for the first time in 49 days
- Contracted deadly bacteria after cutting her leg in a fall from a zip line
- Her father now says she hopes to walk at her graduation in December
PUBLISHED: 02:47 EST, 27 June 2012 | UPDATED: 05:22 EST, 27 June 2012
Her father Andy said he was ‘real excited about leaving’ the hospital and ‘just wants a change of venue.’
The 24-year-old developed necrotizing fasciitis in a small cut she suffered after falling from a homemade zip line over a west Georgia river.
She is staying in close touch with her friends and makes regular hour-long phone calls, according to Gary Duke, owner of Sunnyside Cafe, where she used to work.
‘She sounds strong and in reasonably good spirits,’ Mr Duke told Times Georgian yesterday.
Mr Copeland, who has been keeping a blog about his daughter’s condition, posted online to describe the moment she ventured outside yesterday, for the first time since she was admitted to hospital 49 days earlier.
‘The look on Aimee’s face was just incredible,’ her father, Andy Copeland, told Good Morning America.
‘She could smell the pine trees and feel the breeze through her hair and just the sun on her skin. That was a remarkable change for her just to see how she glowed when we took her outside.’
While there, they took a photograph of Aimee grinning with her hair pulled into a side ponytail, with her parents smiling either side of her. Bandages cover the ends of her arms.
‘Aimee has a beauty in this photograph that I think goes beyond words,’ Andy Copeland said. ‘It’s a beauty of survival, of resilience.’
Her remarkable achievement came just a day after doctors upgraded her condition from serious to good.
Mr Copeland wrote that, once the family was outside, they reflected on the life-changing events – and Aimee showed breathtaking courage.
‘I don’t have any regrets about what has happened,’ Aimee told her father. ‘I don’t focus on what I’ve lost, I would rather focus on what I’ve gained. I feel like I’ve been blessed.’
She went on: ‘I am blessed to have the opportunity to experience something that not many other people have the chance to experience.
‘I am blessed to have the capacity to share my experience with others and have a chance to improve the quality of someone else’s life. I’m blessed to be different.’
Speaking to GMA, her father spoke of her determination to walk at her Master’s graduation ceremony this December. ‘You heard the word right,’ he said. ‘Walk. That’s what she intends to do.’
Earlier this month, Mr Copeland said his daughter had been enduring the worst pain of the ordeal. Her agony was so overwhelming that she began taking morphine after initially refusing medication.
The student had originally indicated that she felt a ‘traitor to her convictions’ by using drugs to manage her pain, because she believed in holistic medicine.
She also suffered phantom pains. Mr Copeland wrote: ‘Although she has no hands, her brain is apparently still telling her body that the hands are there.
‘I asked her if she could describe the pain and she told me, “It feels like I have been carrying bags of rocks”.’
The University of West Georgia student had to have multiple amputations to save her life after the small cut to her leg became infected.
The bacteria that attacked her wound released a toxin that destroys skin, muscle and a layer of tissue below the skin known as fascia, her father said.
Aimee has improved incredibly rapidly with the support of her family and well-wishers who have made donations on the website Mr Copeland set up for his brave daughter.
Less than a month ago, doctors gave her little chance of survival, but she became increasingly alert, despite several major operations, but she is likely to remain hospitalised for several more months.
‘This doctor can’t fathom a reason for why she’s improved the way she has,’ Mr Copeland said. ‘Her spirits are extraordinarily high. I am absolutely amazed.’
NECROTIZING FASCIITIS: THE VICIOUS FLESH-EATING DISEASE
Necrotizing fasciitis, more commonly known as ‘flesh-eating disease’, is a rare but extremely vicious bacterial infection. ‘Necrotizing’ refers to something that causes body tissue to die, and the infection can destroy skin, muscles and fat.
The disease develops when the bacteria enters the body, often through a minor cut or scrape. As the bacteria multiply, they release toxins that kill tissue and cut off blood flow to the area.
Because it is so virulent, the bacteria spreads rapidly throughout the body.
Symptoms include small, red lumps or bumps on the skin, rapidly-spreading bruising, sweating, chills, fever and nausea. Organ failure and shock are also common complications.
Sufferers must be treated immediately to prevent death, and are usually given powerful antibiotics and surgery to remove dead tissue. Amputation can become necessary if the disease spreads through an arm or leg.
Patients may undergo skin grafts after the infection has cleared up, to help the healing process or for aesthetic reasons.
There are 500 to 1,500 cases reported a year, but 20 to 25 percent of victims die.
Distraught: Paige Copeland, centre, cried as her parents Donna and Andy spoke about Aimee after she had her leg amputated
New life: Aimee (right, with her sister) is finally leaving hospital for a rehabilitation centre
Proud: Her father, Andy Copeland, holds up the photo during an interview with Good Morning America
Upbeat: On a blog, Aimee’s father has said he is amazed by her courage and determination to walk
Injuries: Aimee had her left leg, right foot and both hands amputated. She also lost part of her torso
Much-loved: Aimee’s friends and family are praying for her survival and eventual recovery (from left – Aimee, mother Donna, father Andy and sister Paige)
Congratulations to Aimee & her family, and good luck in your recovery.
Filed under: Causes, Celebs & Fame, Good News, Health, Joy & Happiness, News, Photographs Tagged: | Aimee, Aimee Copeland, Copeland, Doctors Hospital, Georgia, Good Morning America, Necrotizing fasciitis, University of West Georgia