Flesh-Eating Disease Victim Speaks

May 28, 2012 6:39pm

Dan Childs and Steve Osunsami reported this story:

Twenty-four-year-old Aimee Copeland has spoken her first words since she was  hospitalized in an Augusta, Ga.,  hospital on May 4 after contracting a flesh-eating disease, according to her father’s Facebook page.

Andy Copeland, who did not reveal the exact words Aimee Copeland said, on Sunday updated his page with the message: “Our baby can talk. Details will follow later today.”

On Monday, Andy Copeland further described the conversations he had with his daughter on Sunday evening on a blog he set up to chronicle his daughter’s recovery.

“Aimee was expressive and she clearly elucidated her thoughts,” he wrote. “Her long term memory was intact. … We discussed ideas of how to utilize wilderness therapy/eco-psychology for amputees. We talked about her current physical condition. We smiled and at times we said nothing.”

Andy Copeland wrote in the blog that later in the evening that his daughter began to get tired and simply mouthed words, but he said that she remained in good spirits.

By Monday afternoon, more than 200 well-wishers had posted comments on Andy Copeland’s Sunday update in which he proclaimed it to be “Aimee Day” in honor of his daughter recovering her ability to speak. A more recent update had garnered more than 130 messages of encouragement.

In an interview Thursday night Andy Copeland, told “Good Morning America” that his daughter was breathing on her own and able to sit up for hours at a time.

Her sitting up was “a big victory because it’s something that wasn’t anticipated, the doctors didn’t order it. She requested it,” Andy Copeland told “GMA” at the time. “In my mind, it says a lot about the strength of her spirit. I think she’s one step back to being her normal self.”

Copeland’s struggle with the flesh-eating disease, known broadly as necrotizing fasciitis, began   May 1, when an accident on a homemade zip line slashed open her calf. A common waterborne bacterium infected the wound.

Aimee Copeland lost the injured leg. Doctors removed her other limbs to prevent the spread of infection to her blood, her father has said.

Her story gained notoriety about a week and a half after the accident, and since then it has attracted national media attention. Last week, singer-songwriter Corey Durkin visited  Aimee Copeland in the hospital. Durkin, who wrote a song for  Copeland in which he called her “a Southern belle who fell down a wishing well,” sat by her hospital bed and sang his songs.

Each year about 500 to 1,500 Americans contract necrotizing fasciitis, according to a 1996 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is unusual about Copeland’s case is  that the infection was triggered by Aeromonas hydrophila, a microorganism that thrives in warm climates and fresh water like the river where Copeland was zip lining with friends. It is a germ that rarely causes flesh-eating disease, but when it does, the infection carries a fatality rate upward of 60 percent, according to a 2010 report published in the journal Clinical Microbiology Reviews.

Andy Copeland said his daughter has shown remarkable fortitude and determination in the face of her devastating situation.

Fears that Aimee Copeland would react to the news she would need amputations with “horror and depression” quickly faded as she nodded acceptingly and asked about prosthetics.

Writing on his blog, Andy Copeland said his daughter’s reaction to the news of the imminent amputations was: “Let’s do this.”

ABC News’ Katie Moisse contributed to this story.

SHOWS:
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus