Copeland marks one month of battling infection

Friday will mark one month since Aimee Copeland gashed her calf while zip-lining, which set off her battle royale with an aggressive, flesh-decaying infection that cost her most of her limbs and nearly her life.

Despite being given a slim chance of survival three weeks ago, Copeland, 24, continues to make major strides toward recovery from the necrotizing fasciitis infection, her family told the Today Show on Thursday.

The Snellville native is still in the intensive care unit at an Augusta hospital, but now she's breathing on her own, able to sit up, and she's able to talk again, said her sister Paige, who was by her side when she spoke last Sunday after doctors removed a tube from her throat.

"She just said ‘hello' and so we're all like ‘awesome'! And she's like "whoa," and she said ‘my mind is blown'," said Paige, who is 13 months older than Aimee.

The University of West Georgia graduate psychology student 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 Aeromonas hydrophila reportedly entered through Copeland's wound and led to the necrotizing fasciitis, forcing doctors to amputate her hands, right foot and her left leg at the hip.

Despite Copeland's amazing progress, her family told the Today Show that she has a long, tough road to recovery ahead. Copeland must now undergo numerous skin grafts and a massive amount of rehabilitation, family members said.

The community continues to rally to Copeland's cause, hosting fundraisers and blood drives.

A blood drive is planned for noon to 5 p.m. Friday at UWG; June 11 at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, and June 13 at the University of Georgia.

Her father, Andy Copeland, A USC alumnus, asked for donors in Copeland's name from USC and UGA. Alumni of the schools can go to any blood donation center and contribute in Copeland’s name, he noted.

Also, two benefit concerts are planned for June 15 and 16 on the Snellville town green in honor of Aimee Copeland. The events will be from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, June 15 and from 2 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, June 16.

The following musical artists and/or groups have agreed to appear: Loganville's Jordan Rager from NBC’s The Voice; Banks & Shane; Wade Sapp; Brandon Whitley; Hero (band); Corey Durkin (wrote “Southern Belle” for Aimee); The Dam Band; and the Fineline Band. Former UGA football great and NFL quarterback David Greene will sign autographs on June 16