Aimee Copeland Battles Flesh-Eating Disease

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Aimee Copeland (Photo: Facebook)

Aimee Copeland, the 24-year-old Georgia woman who lost her left leg due to a flesh-eating disease from a zip-line accident on May 1, is still in critical condition as of Friday, according to reports.

“Aimee is alert and trying to mouth questions, “ her father Andy Copeland said in a blog post. “Her breathing tube has been reoriented to increase her comfort and allow them to try to read her lips. She said: ‘I can’t talk!’ We told her it was because of the tube, and we explained the need for it. ‘Take it out!’ She also asked ‘what happened?’ and ‘where am I?’

“I thought it would be better when she became alert,” he added, “but it is actually harder for us.”

Copeland may also lose her hands and remaining foot, her family said Thursday because blood vessels in her hands and her other foot have died.

The family added in a Facebook post: “We need support more than ever now. She is starting to recover slowly but the bacteria and infection are still doing damage.”

Copeland was “very responsive and coherent,” the family said Thursday. The neurologist said there’s no indication of brain damage.

Doctors said Copeland contacted the infection, called necrotizing fasciitis, a few days after she suffered a laceration to her leg when a zip-line broke. Emergency room workers closed the cut with 22 staples in her calf.

On Wednesday she returned to the hospital after complaining of intense pain and was given painkillers.

“Friday morning Aimee was pale and weak, so a friend carried her to Tanner Medical immediately,” the family said on Facebook. “Upon arrival, the ER physician diagnosed her with necrotizing fasciitis in her damaged leg.”

The bacteria had spread beyond her wound to her hip and thigh, according to reports. Doctors removed the infected tissue and she was air-lifted to JMS Burn Center in Augusta.

Her father wrote that once at JMS doctors performed a high-hip amputation of her left leg, and also removed tissue from her abdomen. She went into cardiac arrest at one point, but was successfully resuscitated.

The infection, necrotizing fasciitis, causes muscle and fat tissue to break down. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data states that there are 10,000 to 15,000 infections each year in the United States.

When it spreads it can lead to “overwhelming bacterial infection and death.”