The father of a 24-year-old Georgia woman fighting a rare flesh-eating bacterial infection says that his daughter has been taken off the ventilator and is now breathing “completely on her own," according to a blog post Sunday night.
Aimee had been taken off a ventilator for 10 hours, representing the latest milestone in the University of West Georgia psychology graduate student’s road to recovery, her father Andy Copeland wrote.
"Aimee is being Aimee. She's cracking jokes, speaking frankly, displaying her usual early morning grumpiness and she has been off of the ventilator for over 10 hours," he wrote.
Though Aimee is still receiving an oxygen "mask,", "the important thing is that she is getting zero breath per minute (bpm) assists. In other words, she is breathing completely on her own! How cool is that?"
"Bottom line: Aimee is doing great today."
Aimee developed a rare condition called necrotizing fasciitis after cutting her leg in a fall from a homemade zip line after she had been kayaking along the Little Tallapoosa River in Carrollton, Georgia, on May 1.
Since then, Aimee had to have her left leg amputated and her father said last week that she has learned that doctors will also have to amputate her hands and her remaining foot.
"The hands were endangering Aimee's progress," he writes. "As always, my decision was simple. Do whatever it takes to give us the best chance to save Aimee's life."
Afterwards, he then revealed the news to his daughter.
"I took Aimee's hands and held them up to her face. She didn't draw back in horror. She knew the condition she was in," he writes.
She nodded as he explained the diagnosis given by her doctors, and when he asked whether she had any questions, Aimee mouthed to him, “I'm a little confused, but I'll figure it out,” he writes.
Her father, mother Donna and sister Paige then explained to her how she would eventually be fitted with artificial limbs to help her get around and perform normal daily functions.
"She smiled and raised her hands up, carefully examining them. She then looked at us. We all understood her next three words," he writes. “‘Let’s do this.'"
Doctors had previously labeled her chances of survival as “slim to none,” according to a message Aimee’s father, had posted on Facebook, but the family has remained optimistic after a neurologist and cardiopulmonologist have said that there appeared to be no damage to the brain or irreversible damage to the lungs, which were previously under attack.
After her injury was initially told to take Motrin and Tylenol for the pain, and after being turned away from doctors who gave her nothing more than some antibiotics and pain killers, they were horrified to discover that aggressive flesh-eating aeromonas hydrophila bacteria had invaded her leg injury and were quickly invading the rest of her body.
Doctors the diagnosed her with "necrotizing fasciitis," a rare but severe bacterial infection caused by a flesh-eating bug that releases toxins that cut off blood flow to parts of the body, and can destroy skin, fat and muscle, and were forced to amputate her whole left leg after they realized that her deadly infection had already spread to her thigh and hip.
She had been flown to Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta where surgeons performed a high-hip amputation of her left leg and removed other infected tissue from her abdomen.