Georgia woman fighting flesh-eating disease improves

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 25, 2012 3:29 PM
Georgia woman fighting flesh-eating disease improves

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A Georgia graduate student who has undergone multiple amputations as she fights a rare flesh-eating bacterial infection has been upgraded from serious to good condition, a hospital spokeswoman said on Monday.

Aimee Copeland, 24, was hospitalized after cutting the calf of her leg in a May 1 fall from a zip-line strung along the Little Tallapoosa River near Carrollton, Georgia.

Emergency room doctors initially released Copeland after closing her wound with 22 staples, but she later was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis - a bacterial infection that can destroy muscles, skin and tissue - and spent weeks in critical condition.

Surgeons amputated her left leg at the hip, both hands and her remaining foot.

Being upgraded to "good condition" gives the West Georgia University student the best possible patient rating at Doctors Hospital in Augusta, hospital spokeswoman Barclay Bishop said.

"Besides being discharged, yes, this is the best," said Bishop, who declined to say when Copeland would be released.

News of her improved condition came a day after Copeland was able to leave the hospital building for the first time. On Sunday, she sat outside for more than an hour in a wheelchair, according to a blog post written by her father.

Andy Copeland, who has been chronicling his daughter's fight for survival, said Aimee told him that she felt "blessed." He said Aimee shook her head when he asked if she meant she felt blessed to be alive.

"I mean that I am blessed to have the opportunity to experience something that not many other people have the chance to experience," Aimee said, according to her father.

"I am blessed to be able to have a challenge that not many others get to have. 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."

(Editing By Colleen Jenkins and Eric Walsh)