Georgia student with flesh-eating infection OKs more amputations

Reuters News
Posted: May 19, 2012 12:53 AM
Georgia student with flesh-eating infection OKs more amputations

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A Georgia college student fighting a rare flesh-eating bacterial infection mouthed "Let's do this" when told that her hands and remaining foot would have to be amputated, her father said on Friday.

Andy Copeland, Aimee Copeland's father, wrote in a Facebook posting that a doctor told the family on Thursday that "the hands were endangering Aimee's progress."

He said he told the doctors, "Do whatever it takes to give us the best chance to save Aimee's life."

Copeland then took his daughter's hands and, holding them up to her face, said, "Aimee, these hands are not healthy. They are hampering your progress."

He continued, "Your mind is beautiful, your heart is good and your spirit is strong. These hands can prevent your recovery from moving forward. The doctors want to amputate them and your foot today to assure your best possible chance of survival."

Aimee Copeland smiled, raised her hands and mouthed "Let's do this," her father wrote.

She was listed in critical condition on Friday, said Barclay Bishop, a spokeswoman for Doctors Hospital in Augusta, Georgia. Bishop declined to say whether doctors had amputated the hands and foot.

Copeland, 24, was kayaking and zip-lining along the Little Tallapoosa River near Carrollton, Georgia, on May 1 when the line broke and she cut her calf.

Emergency-room doctors closed the wound with 22 staples and released Copeland, a graduate student at West Georgia University.

But after her condition worsened, Copeland was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, a bacterial infection that can destroy muscles, skin and tissue.

Surgeons amputated her left leg at the hip and struggled to save her hands and remaining foot.

Two other cases of flesh-eating infections have been reported recently in South Carolina. A new mother of twins in Greenville, Lana Kuykendall, 36, was in critical but stable condition on Thursday at Greenville Memorial Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said.

And a former South Carolina fire chief, Glenn Pace, told a local television station he had been battling the disease since early April and had three surgeries on his foot.

Different bacteria can cause necrotizing fasciitis. The "flesh-eating" infection is not communicable.

(Editing By Cynthia Johnston and Xavier Briand)