She is expected to be released soon from the Augusta hospital where she has been since early May.
“She sounds strong and in reasonably good spirits,” Duke said Tuesday. “I understand she may be out of the hospital and into rehab within the next week or two.”
Copeland, who has been battling a rare, flesh-eating disease, is preparing to be released from the hospital after nearly two months. Her father, Andy Copeland, told The Associated Press that his 24-year-old daughter plans to transfer Monday from Doctors Hospital in Augusta to an inpatient rehabilitation center. Andy Copeland says she will spend several weeks there learning to move herself after having her left leg, right foot and both hands amputated.
He declined to say where she’s going for her rehabilitation therapy.
Copeland’s condition was recently upgraded from serious to good at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta. She has been a patient there since May 4. She was hospitalized after suffering a leg cut on May 1 in a homemade zipline accident on the Little Tallapoosa River in Carrollton. She developed necrotizing faciitis, the clinical term for “flesh-eating bacteria.”
Doctors had to amputate her left leg, right foot and both hands to save her life.
“Aimee has expressed concern about all the attention she’s getting, when there are people there in her unit less fortunate and in worse shape than she is,” Duke said. “That says a lot about her character.”
Copeland was able to leave her hospital room on Sunday, the first time in 49 days, for a brief wheelchair ride around the hospital grounds. A hospital photographer caught the moment in a photo showing Aimee in a wheelchair, flanked by her mother Donna Copeland, and father.
“She just enjoyed the sunshine on her face and the breezes blowing through her hair and the smell of pine trees was really close by,” her father told the NBC Today Show Monday. “And she just sat there and just took it all in.”
Commenting on the wheelchair ride in his online blog, Andy Copeland said, “The smile on Aimee’s face said that this was the best therapy that she has had in weeks. Not one thought of the pain in her abdomen, not the slightest concern over her time away from the ICU. Fresh scenery and close proximity to nature was all she needed. Nature therapy — the basis of Aimee’s master thesis.”
Copeland is a graduate student in psychology at University of West Georgia and was starting work on her thesis when the accident occurred.
Andy Copeland said in his blog that during the wheelchair ride, the three of them talked about life and trying to understand how the events of the past 49 days had impacted Aimee’s life.
“I don’t have any regrets about what has happened,” Andy Copeland quoted Aimee as saying. “I don’t focus on what I’ve lost. I would rather focus on what I’ve gained. I feel like I’ve been blessed.”
“Yes, Aimee,” her father replied. “I feel blessed that you are alive.”
“No, I don’t mean it like that," Aimee Copeland said, according to her father. "I mean I am blessed to have the opportunity to experience something that not many other people have the chance to experience. I am blessed to be able to have a challenge that not many others get to have. I am blessed to have the capacity to share my experience with others and have a chance to improve the quality of someone else’s life. I’m blessed to be different.”
Andy concluded by saying, “I only relate this because I want you to understand and appreciate the incredible heart of a very strong young lady. I also ask you to grant her the grace to be less than perfect. I’m sure she’ll have moments of extreme frailty, but even when that happens, she will always be an incredible inspiration to me. In Aimee’s greatest moment of weakness, she will always be stronger than I can ever hope to be.”