Aimee Copeland has been upgraded from critical to serious condition, her father confirmed Tuesday, as she continues to recover from the flesh-eating bacteria that has claimed a leg, foot and both hands and endangered most of her major organs.
Copeland, 24, a South Gwinnett High School grad, has been at Doctors Hospital and the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta since early May. Her father, Andy, told the Daily Post that she had a skin graft surgery Monday to move “good flesh” from her right thigh over to her left side.
A day later, she was upgraded to serious condition. While her lack of hands will necessitate continued one-on-one nursing care for the time being, Aimee has been moved to a step-down intensive care unit, Andy Copeland said.
“To be where she is now is phenomenal,” Andy Copeland said. “She has had a miraculous path to recovery.”
Aimee Copeland was on a homemade zip-line near Carrollton — where she is a master’s student at the University of West Georgia — on May 1 when the line broke and she gashed her left leg. Within a few days doctors discovered she had contracted a flesh-eating disease called necrotizing fasciitis.
Most of her left leg was initially amputated and Copeland battled shutdown of five major organs. In recent weeks, she’s begun talking and sitting up. She no longer has any major organ failure, Andy Copeland said Tuesday.
After her skin grafts heal, hopefully within about two weeks, Aimee could begin a rehab “crash course” to learn how to sit up comfortably and get into a wheelchair, her father said. After that, she could be on the move.
“In three weeks she could be in a wheelchair, and we could be going to another rehab facility,” Andy Copeland said.
Copeland said no decision had been made where his daughter would do her full rehab, which will be extensive and include prosthetics.
Part of Aimee Copeland’s in-progress master’s thesis covered holistic pain therapy, and that influence has shown itself during her recovery, Andy Copeland said. On Sunday, she refused morphine during a dressing change and meditated through the painful process.
“Emotionally, she has her highs and lows,” her father said, “but most of the time her lows are after she has surgeries, when she’s heavily medicated ... She doesn’t like morphine. She’s asked not to have it.”