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Georgia grad student will lose fingers in fight against flesh-eating bacteria, doctors say

Aimee Copeland final.jpg

Aimee Copeland, the Georgia grad student who contracted a deadly flesh-eating bacteria after she cut her leg in a zip lining accident, will likely lose her fingers.

Aimee, 24, has already had her left leg amputated after necrotizing fasciitis -- a rare bacteria that infects the deep layers of the skin and spreads quickly -- took hold of her injured limb just over a week ago.

"Aimee will suffer the loss of her fingers, however physicians have hope of bringing life back to the palms of her hands, which could allow her the muscle control to use helpful prosthetics," read a post on the website of the University of West Georgia psychology department, where Aimee is a masters student.

"They are awaiting a safe time before embarking on surgery for this," the update, posted Saturday night, added.

Aimee's family has remained optimistic about her recovery after she defied doctors' doubts about her chances of survival.

"Aimee is doing wonderful this morning," her father, Andy Copeland, wrote in a Facebook post Sunday. "She is awake, alert and wanting to be rid of that blasted ventilator."

Copeland also highlighted Aimee's frustrated attempts to communicate with him and her other family members, as she is still unable to speak.

"I tell her not to worry, I tell her to concentrate on breathing, I ask her to pray and meditate on healing. I hold her and pray while she prays," he wrote. "This is all we can do now and I can honestly say it works quite well."

Aimee was kayaking down a creek with some of her friends in Carrollton, Ga., nearly two weeks ago when she stopped to ride on a homemade zip line along the water. The line snapped and she cut a large gash in her left calf.

Aimee went to the emergency room at the Tanner Medical Center in Carrollton, where doctors closed the wound with 22 staples and gave her pain medication.

But days later, a friend drove a "pale and weak" Aimee to the hospital, where an emergency room doctor diagnosed her with necrotizing fasciitis.

She was then airlifted to JMS Burn Center in Augusta, Ga., where doctors rushed her into surgery and performed a high-hip amputation of her left leg.

After surgery, Aimee suffered cardiac arrest, but the doctors were able to resuscitate her. Since then, she has been showing signs of recovery.

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