The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Against astounding odds, a Snellville woman is still fending off a deadly flesh-decaying
bacteria that invaded her body after a zip line accident last week.
Tuesday, doctors gave Aimee Copeland's chance of survival as 'slim to none,'
after her leg was amputated up to the thigh and she suffered numerous setbacks
as doctors tried to stay ahead of the aggressive bacteria, according to her
father Andy Copeland.
Copeland said Aimee made meaningful progress Tuesday night, and has moved
her arms, head and is beginning to breathe more on her own. Still, the doctors
have stopped short of saying the worst is over.
"She's stable this morning," said Copeland, who said his
daughter's blood oxygen level improved overnight, but her doctors at the Joseph
M. Still Burn
Center in Augusta
still are considering removing the tips of her fingers and toes on her right
foot due to poor circulation.
Last Tuesday, Aimee Copeland, 24, was doing something she loves --
kayaking down the Little Tallapoosa River in Carrollton with friends. She received an ugly
cut on her left calf when a homemade zip line she stopped to ride along the
Then ugly turned horrific.
The flesh-eating bacteria invaded her body through the gash
on her calf, causing doctors to amputate her leg Friday night.
The University of West Georgia graduate psychology student remains in
critical condition at the burn center in Augusta.
Doctors had given her survival chances as "slim to none," her
father Andy Copeland posted on a Facebook page on Tuesday.
"Yesterday evening, Aimee had made significant progress in a couple of
areas," he wrote. "Today Aimee’s condition has worsened. Her
temperature is up to 102 and the progress she made yesterday was lost
"It's been two steps forward and three steps back," Andy Copeland
told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Aimee Copeland, a South Gwinnett High School
grad, went to the emergency room at Tanner
after the zip line gash. Doctors closed her leg with 22 staples and
told her to take Motrin and Tylenol for the pain, her father said.
On Wednesday, Copeland returned to the Tanner ER complaining of severe
pain and was given a prescription for a pain medication.
"This alleviated her symptoms, but she continued in pain on
Thursday," her father said. "Aimee went to the doctor and received a
prescription for antibiotics and posted a clean MRI report. Again, she was
treated and released."
On Friday morning, a friend drove a pale and weak Copeland back to the
emergency room, where a physician diagnosed her with "necrotizing
fasciitis" in her damaged leg. The bacteria quickly spread beyond her
wound to her hip and thigh. Lab tests have since confirmed Copeland has
Aeromonas hydrophila, a bacteria found in warm climates and waters that can
cause illnesses ranging from gastroenteritis to necrotizing fasciitis.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, some strains of this
bacteria can cause illness in fish and amphibians as well as humans.
"The surgeons advised me that they wanted to try to save her leg, but
at this point saving her life took precedence," her father said on
Facebook. "They removed all of the infected tissue and advised that she
would have limited, if any use of her leg."
Copeland was then flown from Tanner to the burn center in Augusta, where doctors performed the
high-hip amputation of her left leg. They also removed tissue from her abdomen,
her father said.
"Aimee [cardiac] arrested when they moved her from the operating table,
but they were able to successfully resuscitate her," her father said.
The woman made progress over the next few days, according to her father, but
that progress began to slide. Tuesday, a week after the accident, Aimee
Copeland's organs were beginning to shut down, Andy Copeland said.
He is holding out hope that his daughter will survive her ordeal. He said
Aimee Copeland, 'a lover of people,' majored in psychology
because she wants to help people who go through any type of trauma.
Aimee Copeland's friends have established Aimee's Fund at United Community
Bank in Carrollton
for donations to help defray medical costs.
They're planning to hold a blood drive through the Sheperd
Community blood bank, at the gym of the University of West Georgia
from 2 to 7 p.m. next Tuesday.