The 24-year-old woman battling a deadly bacteria learned early Thursday that she faces more amputations. Then, Aimee Copeland showed her fierce determination to recover with three simple words.
"Let's do this."
Copeland's parents told her Thursday doctors want to remove her hands and remaining foot, two weeks after her leg was amputated. What started as a gash on her leg soon left Copeland, a University of West Georgia graduate student, fighting for her life.
But even as she's remained in critical condition at an Augusta hospital, Copeland has shown remarkable resilience, detailed by her father, Andy, on a Facebook page dedicated to his daughter.
In a Friday morning Facebook post, Andy Copeland said he and his wife explained to Aimee that she would need the amputations.
"Aimee, I do not want anything to happen to you," Copeland said he told this daughter. "Your mind is beautiful, your heart is good and your spirit is strong. These hands can prevent your recovery from moving forward. The doctors want to amputate them and your foot today to assure your best possible chance of survival."
From her hospital bed, Aimee told her parents she was a little confused, but would figure it out. Her parents then told her she would be fitted with artificial limbs eventually, her father wrote in the Facebook post.
"She smiled and raised her hands up, carefully examining them," Andy Copeland wrote. "She then looked at us. We all understood her next three words."
"Let's do this," Aimee Copeland said.
It was not immediately known when she was scheduled for surgery. A hospital spokeswoman told the AJC Copeland remained in critical condition Friday.
But in recent days, the young woman has made significant strides toward recovery, according to her family, who was initially told to prepare for the worst.
The Snellville native contracted the infection May 1 as she and friends zip-lined along the Little Tallapoosa River near Carrollton. When the homemade zip line broke, she fell to the water and rocks below, cutting her calf on a stone.
The bacteria entered through Copeland's wound, forcing doctors at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center to amputate her left leg at the hip. She remained on a breathing tube until Wednesday, when doctors performed a tracheotomy, her father wrote in a Facebook post. Aimee has also undergone hyperbaric treatments to help improve her blood flow.
Still, despite the long road ahead of her, Aimee's father has said she has not lost her sense of humor and spirit. And she's been shocked to learn at the support and prayers she continues to receive from outside of the hospital. Blood drives and fundraisers continue to be organized to help her.
"Aimee, you are as priceless as the Mona Lisa," Andy Copeland said he told her Wednesday.
But Aimee wasn't having it.
"I'm nothing like the Mona Lisa," Aimee said. "She doesn't have eyebrows."
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Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com