South grad's condition improving, but more surgery needed

Aimee Copeland

Aimee Copeland

Rolling Stones? Nope.

Grateful Dead? Yup.

Aimee Copeland was responsive enough to shake and nod her way to a music selection Thursday morning, a positive sign in the South Gwinnett High School grad's otherwise tumultuous battle against a flesh-eating bacteria that has already taken one leg and crippled her major organs.

Her father, Andy, said Thursday that she remained in "major organ shutdown mode" but doctor's found no sign of brain damage. She was sedated around lunchtime but was "alert and responsive to commands" earlier in the day, he said.

"My daughter's alive, and that's about as positive as it can get," Andy Copeland told the Daily Post. "We're just very thankful for what we've got."

Copeland, 24, gashed her left leg open on May 1 after falling from a homemade zip-line near Carrollton, where she is working toward her master's degree at the University of West Georgia. Within a few days, emergency room doctors diagnosed her with a specific brand of necrotizing fasciitis, a bacteria that can "eat" flesh, fat and muscle.

Her left leg was amputated after she was life-flighted to the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta.

The Copeland family got the news late Wednesday night that her hands and remaining foot will have to be amputated. The blood vessels have died, a result of attempts to keep Paige's blood pressure up to keep her alive.

"It really made the night somewhat sleepless," Andy Copeland said. "I woke up at 3:45 (a.m.) just thinking about it."

Despite the additional amputations, the prospects for Copeland's survival seem to be improving. A neurologist told the family Thursday that her brain function "looks normal," and another physician said "some healing seems to be going on" in her lungs.

She'll eventually need skin grafts to replace the tissue removed in her abdominal area. So far she's received four 10-packs of platelets, eight units of red blood cells and five units of plasma. Aimee Copeland will be in Augusta for the foreseeable future.

"She really responded well today and we're so encouraged at her development and how she's coming along," Andy Copeland said.

"It's going to be a difficult road ahead, but, together as a family, this too shall pass," he added.

By Thursday afternoon, nearly 20,000 people "liked" the Facebook page named "Believe and pray for a miracle to happen for Aimee Copeland." Her sister, Paige, posted on the page Thursday. (Click here to visit the Facebook Page)

"Seeing Aimee this morning was so refreshing," she wrote. "Her eyes are wide open and she is nodding and shaking her head to the questions we ask. My hope for her recovery is stronger than ever!"

A vigil was planned for Thursday evening at the University of West Georgia. The Copelands will remain in Augusta with their daughter, but said the community support "blows (them) away."

Andy Copeland is asking friends, family and well-wishers to donate blood in the honor of his daughter, whom he called a loving person with a fiery independent streak.

"My goal is to give back 100 times (the blood) that they've taken out for my daughter," he said.


TAK 3 years, 5 months ago

Has anyone heard about a fundraiser for Aimee? I heard something on the radio about the Rotary Club but it was after hours. Tom


Jen1981 3 years, 5 months ago

I really hope the best for Aimee, I know all doctors in Augusta are doing their best for her, just like they did for my baby when she got burn...All my support and prayers are with her family. YOU CAN DO IT AIMEE, God is with you, your family and the doctors!


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