June 26, 2012 -- Aimee Copeland, the Georgia student recovering from flesh-eating disease, went outside for the first time in 49 days, her father wrote on his blog Monday. After several surgeries to remove her limbs, the 24-year-old's condition was upgraded from "serious" to "good."
For a patient's status to change from serious to good, vital signs must be stable and within normal limits. The patient is conscious and comfortable, and indicators are excellent, the hospital reported.
Copeland, who had been working on a thesis about nature therapy, was wheeled outside of Doctors Hospital in Augusta on Saturday, where her parents snapped a photo of her.
"Aimee has a beauty in this photograph that I think goes beyond words," said Andy Copeland, her father. "It's a beauty of survival, of resilience."
Copeland has been keeping a blog about his daughter's fight, and says the sun has returned to her life.
"The look on Aimee's face was just incredible," said Copeland. "She could smell the pine trees and feel the breeze through her hair and just the sun on her skin. That was a remarkable change for her just to see how she glowed when we took her outside."
Copeland's father tells ABC News that she might be able to leave the hospital in a week, but she still has much recovery ahead of her. It will not be the life she imagined, he says, but he is in awe of her sunny outlook.
"She said she likes that fact that she has a challenge and she feels the challenge will create a tremendous opportunity not just for her to learn more and to gain more from this, but to learn more that she can use to help others along the way," says Copeland.
Aimee Copeland cut open her calf in a fall from a homemade zipline near the Little Tallapoosa River on May 1. The wound became infected by a common bacteria that spread in her body and claimed her left leg, right foot and hands. Doctors also removed part of her torso.
It was Copeland's spirit and fight that gained national attention. Early on, her family feared that Copeland would react to news about her amputations with "horror and depression." That quickly faded as Copeland accepted her situation and asked about prosthetics.
"We all understood her next three words," Andy Copeland wrote in a blog post. "Let's do this." Copeland's upbeat reaction to the devastating news brought her father to tears.
"I wasn't crying because Aimee was going to lose her hands and foot, I was crying because in all my 53 years of existence, I have never seen such a strong display of courage," he wrote. "I was crying because I am a proud father of an incredibly courageous young lady."
Copeland's preferred method of pain management against the flesh-eating infection was meditation. As her father noted in the blog, holistic pain management techniques have been a focus of her thesis. Earlier this month, Copeland felt like "a traitor to her convictions," according to her father, because she opted for morphine following surgery to replace bacteria-ravaged skin and muscle.
Copeland continues to show that resounding spirit, telling her family she plans to graduate this year, finishing that thesis as her own and best case study.
"She wants to be able to walk and get her master's degree in December. And you heard the word right -- "walk." That's what she intends to do," said Andy Copeland.