UWG student loses leg to flesh-eating bacteria - CBS46 News

University of West Georgia student loses leg to flesh-eating bacteria

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Aimee Copeland, Source: Facebook Aimee Copeland, Source: Facebook
ATLANTA (CBS46) -

A University of West Georgia student lost her leg after an accident led to a flesh-eating bacteria.

Aimee Copeland, 24, went to the emergency room at a Carrollton hospital after cutting her leg on a homemade zip line about a week ago.

On Friday, a physician diagnosed her with necrotizing fasciitis in her damaged leg. They found that the condition - a flesh-eating bacteria that can destroy skin, fat and muscle - had spread beyond her wound to her hip and thigh.

She was then transferred to JMS Burn Center in Augusta where doctors were forced to amputate her leg.

"Her leg had degraded to such a point, that it could not be saved," said her father Andy Copeland. "It was not a difficult decision to make because the doctor said, 'We take Aimee's leg or she loses her life.'"

According to the University of West Georgia's Psychology Department's website, Aimee Copeland is a bright star, lover of life, infinitely generous of heart and spirit. She is from Snellville, GA. She graduated with a bachelor's degree from The University of Georgia and is nearing completion of her master's degree at UWG for psychology.

Aimee Copeland went into cardiac arrest when she was moved off the operating table, but doctors were able to successfully resuscitate her, her father said.

"I type this factual progression of Aimee's condition as a way to better cope with what is without a doubt the most horrific situation that a parent can possibly imagine," said Andy Copeland, in a blog on a Facebook page set up for Aimee. "We take so much for granted in life, but I never imagined that one of my daughters would face this most unlikely of situations."

Her father said she will probably lose part of her right leg and both of her wrists in the next couple of days.

"Her fingers basically appear to be mummified, at this point, and it makes me shake to think about it," Andy Copeland said. "I couldn't conceive of what my daughter would be, to lose her hands and the only other foot she has, and that appears to be what will happen."

A vigil will be held for Aimee Copeland Thursday evening at 5 at Melson Hall at the University of West Georgia.

The University of West Georgia will also hold a blood drive on campus May 15 from 2-7 p.m. for Aimee Copeland. 

"Donating blood is the best message we can get out of this for Aimee, this blood will not only save her life, but other people who desperately need it," Andy Copeland said.

There is another blood drive on May 24 at Grace Snell School in Loganville from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Faced with the possibility of his daughter's life drastically being changed, Andy Copeland said he will "do whatever it takes to keep his daughter alive."

Andy Copeland said his daughter started responding to verbal commands on Wednesday and even nodded her head to pick the type of music she wanted played in her room. There is no damage to Aimee Copeland's brain, her father said.

A fund has been set up at United Community Bank for Aimee Copeland, called "Aimee's Fund." To donate, send a check to United Bank, 119 Maple St., Carrollton, GA 30117.  The check must say "For Aimee's Fund." 

For daily updates on Aimee Copeland from the University of West Georgia, click here.

Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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