Flesh-Eating Bacteria Has Georgia Student Fighting for Life
Worse yet, her parents have to constantly remind her why she's in the hospital because the medications treating her infection also cause her to forget what has happened each time she falls asleep, according to CNN.
"We really don't see the suffering side of it. We see the miraculous survival," Andy Copeland, Aimee's father 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."
The 24-year-old cut her leg open nearly two weeks ago when a homemade zip line she was riding over a river snapped. Copeland cut her leg so deeply, it took 22 staples to close the wound. Necrotizing fasciitis, a rare but deadly infection, set in shortly after.
Aeromonas hydrophila, the bacteria which caused the infection, is common in water like the river where Copeland and her friends were zip lining. The bacteria does not always lead to a flesh-eating infection, but when it does, the fatality rate is as high as 60 percent, according to Clinical Microbiology Reviews.
"This was a perfect storm," said ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser. "She had an injury to her leg, she was exposed to water then had this germ, and she was one of those people where the germ just took off."
Copeland, who is a psychology graduate student, has already had one leg amputated and doctors expect to amputate more limbs, including her fingers and remaining foot. Despite improvements, Copeland is relying on a ventilator to breathe. There is no sign of brain damage and her lungs appear to be healing, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
"What we've got is nothing short of a miracle," Andy Copeland said. "My baby is alive and her mind is good. I know we have a difficult road ahead, but right now we're rejoicing."
Her father said Aimee worries about finishing her master's thesis when she is awake.