Woman to Lose Hands, Remaining Foot to Flesh-Eating Disease

3:55 PM, May 10, 2012   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WXIA) -- Doctors treating University of West Georgia grad student Aimee Copeland for a type of flesh-eating bacteria say the 24-year-old will end up losing both her hands and her remaining foot after the tissue in those extremities died.

In a UWG blog post Thursday afternoon, Copeland was said to be awake and responsive. The post said that according to a neurologist, there's no indication of brain damage and doctors are saying that her lungs are healing. The post goes on to say that blood vessels in her hand and her remaining foot have died, forcing them to be amputated.

Copeland suffered a laceration on her calf on May 1 when a zip line she was riding on along the Lower Tallapoosa River broke and she fell to the ground.

A couple of days after she was treated at the Tanner Medical Center in Carrollton, doctors diagnosed her with necrotizing fasciitis, and said the infection had spread beyond her calf. After treatment in Carrollton, she was taken by life flight to the JMS Burn Center in Augusta, which, doctors said, had the most advanced infection care unit in the state of Georgia.

In Augusta, another surgery was necessary, where doctors amputated her left leg, and were forced to remove additional tissue from her abdomen.

Andy Copeland says his daughter has gone into cardiac arrest twice and her organs are failing. Doctors told him Aimee's chance for survival were "slim to none." On Wednesday morning, he wrote about the tests doctors were performing on her remaining foot for circulation, to avoid having to amputate any of her toes. Later in the day a post by Aimee's sister, Paige, said she was breathing more on her own and even expressed emotion.

It's clear from the posts and community involvement, no one has given up hope. Jars have been set up all over Carrollton. "It's something people can see when they're out. They're in some of Aimee's favorite places. We'd like to collect any cards or any business cards of anyone who wants to help, not just money. When she is in recovery she's going to need all the encouragement she is getting right now. She'll need it to emotionally deal with it," Kara Dermo said going from business to business.

Whitney Hall says she tried to help nurse Copeland back to health after the fall and was there when she returned to the hospital on Friday. Hall says they talked a lot about the meaning of life. "She really felt that while you're here you're not meant to live under the impression, you're not promised every day. But while you are here, you're here to help people."

Help is exactly what they're now asking those touched by Copeland's story to do. There are blood drives, prayer meetings, and new benefits being set up each day. "I just got a call from Las Vegas, and there's someone in San Diego that wants to do something. It's a little overwhelming but it's good. It's what we want, we want to really be able to do something and jars aren't going to be able to do it," said Dermo.

A fund has been set up for Aimee at the United Community Bank in Carrollton. Anyone who wants to donate can ask at the bank about Aimee's Fund. The bank's address is 119 Maple Street, Carrollton. Their phone number is 770-838-9608.

A blood drive has also been set up on the campus of the University of West Georgia next Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the University's gymnasium.

A Facebook page -- Believe and pray for a miracle to happen for Aimee Copeland -- has been set up for well-wishers and prayers of support.

Most Watched Videos