Family watches 'miraculous survival' of woman fighting flesh-eating bacteria
|Date: Monday, May 14th, 2012||Return to Archive|
A 24-year-old woman in a hospital bed fighting off flesh-eating bacteria has to be told repeatedly -- each time she wakes up -- what has happened, her parents told CNN on Monday.
The medication Aimee Copeland is given leads her to forget each time she falls asleep.
"It's scary to her," said her mother, Donna Copeland. She asks where she is and "doesn't understand."
Yet Aimee Copeland -- who has lost a leg and part of her abdomen to the virulent bacteria and may lose more, including her fingers -- is keeping her spirits strong, her father said.
"We really don't see the suffering side of it. We see the miraculous survival," Andy Copeland said. "I think that's the story that's inspired us, that's the story that's inspired, I think, the nation at this point."
On Facebook, he wrote that doctors have used words like "astonishing," "confounding" and "mind-boggling" to describe the young woman's recovery.
The master's student in psychology at the University of West Georgia was out with friends on May 1 near the Little Tallapoosa River, about 50 miles west of Atlanta, when she grabbed onto a homemade zip line. It snapped.
The accident left her with a gash in her left calf that took 22 staples to close.
Three days later, when the pain continued, a friend took her to an emergency room, where she was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis and flown to Augusta for surgery.
She had contracted the flesh-devouring Aeromonas hydrophila. The bacterium is "remarkably common in the water and in the environment," according to Dr. Buddy Creech, an assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University.
"When it gets into those deeper tissues, it has a remarkable ability to destroy the tissues that surround it in sort of this hunt for nutrition," he said. "When it does that, those tissues die, and you see the inflammation and the swelling and the destruction that can be very difficult to control."
In most cases, people contract the bacteria by swallowing them, resulting in diarrhea. Aimee Copeland's case was much more rare. Her wound became infected, "and the infection (ran) wild," Creech said.
A blog set up by the University of West Georgia psychology department said Aimee Copeland will suffer the loss of her fingers.
"However, physicians have hope of bringing life back to the palms of her hands, which could allow her the muscle control to use helpful prosthetics. They are awaiting a safe time before embarking on surgery for this."
Speaking to CNN on Monday, her father said doctors were assessing "day by day, or even hour by hour."
Copeland has told his daughter that one day, the family will celebrate Aimee Day -- when she will be able to breathe on her own. "We're going to celebrate that day forever for the rest of your life," he told her. "It's the day that my daughter was delivered from this horrible, horrible disease."
If there's anything to be learned, Andy Copeland said, it's not to use homemade zip lines.
Aimee Copeland's parents say that when she wakes up, she expresses concern about finishing her thesis.
In her studies, she has focused on eco-psychology -- the idea that harmonizing with nature can be a powerful tool in ensuring one's psychological health and vitality.
- All Categories
- Academic Outreach
- Continuing & Professional Development
- Distance Learning
- Summer Sessions
- Winter Term
- Career & Workforce Development
- Lifelong Learning
- Society for Lifelong Learning
- WKU On Demand
- Study Away
- Faculty-Led Study Abroad
- Center for Faculty Development
- Cohort Programs
- Dual Credit
- Conferencing & Catering
- All Categories
- March 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS October 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2012 E-Newsletter
- April 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS November 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2013 E-Newsletter
- JUNE 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS May/June 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2013 E-Newsletter
- Archived CHHS News
- CHHS October 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2015 E-Newsletter
- December 2015 ICYMI
- January 2016 ICYMI
- MAY 2016 ICYMI
- February 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS July 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2011 E-Newsletter
Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view,
download Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Note: documents in Excel format (XLS) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Word format (DOC) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Powerpoint format (PPT) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Quicktime Movie format [MOV] require Apple Quicktime,