Aimee Copeland Recovering From Flesh-Eating Bacteria Infection, But More Surgery Lies Ahead
Aimee Copeland looked down at her dead hand, ravaged by flesh-eating bacteria and asked about the damage, without crying a single tear, her father told AP on Wednesday.
The University of Georgia graduate student contracted an infection from flesh eating bacteria on May 1 while zip-lining when the rope snapped over rocks in the Little Tallapoose River close to her campus where she studies psychology.
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When Copeland didn't know is that her doctors intend to amputate all her fingers. Most of her left leg was already removed in order to save her life.
"Her fingers are basically mummified. The flesh is dead," Andy Copeland told AP in a phone interview from the hospital in Augusta where his daughter is still being treated two weeks after the accident occurred. When Am Copeland fell from the zip-line the rocks below cut a gash in her leg, which soon developed into a deadly infection.
And Copeland described the scene. His daughter holding her dead hand up in front of her face and asked her family questions about it. He said he told her that although her hands had been several damaged they were doing everything hey could to bring life back into them.
"She was accepting," said Andy Copeland. "No tears of anything."
The scientific term for the bacterial infection Copeland contracted is necrotizing fasciitis. The 24-year-old student from a suburb of Atlanta remains in critical condition. Her doctors initially worried they would have to remove her remaining foot and both hands completely, but according to her father, she will now only lose two fingers following two days or treatment using a hyperbaric chamber. This procedure helps patients breathe pure oxygen to boost white blood cells and increase the body's healing power.
The flesh-eating bacteria, called Aeomonas hydrophila, emit toxins that cut off blood flow to parts of the body. The infection can destroy muscle, fat and skin tissue. The bacteria is found in warm, brackish water, and many people exposed do no get sick. When sickness does occur it's often just diarrhea from swallowing he bacteria in the water. Aeromonas cases are very rare and onl a handful have been reported in the past few decades.
Copeland is still on a respirator and dialysis machine as her lungs and kidneys recover. Doctors removed much of the skin from her torso in order to keep the infection from spreading.Copeland is still heavily medicated, but her immediate family says she has become more alert despite the breathing tube in her throat.
And Copeland told AP his daughter has even asked for her cellphone, laptop, and a book, though she's still in no condition to use them.
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