'Let's do this,' said flesh-eating disease victim

ATLANTA - Faced with the prospect of losing both hands andher one remaining foot, a young US woman battling to survive a case of flesh-eating bacteria that has already claimed one leg mouthed the words "let's do this".

Miss Aimee Copeland, 24, "shed no tears, she never batted an eyelash," her father, Andy Copeland, wrote on Facebook last Friday about the conversation he andhis wife had with their daughter the day before heroperation.

"I was crying because I am a proud father of an incredibly courageous young lady," wrote Mr Copeland.

The story of Miss Copeland's battle to survive has inspired an outpouring of support from around the world.

The University of West Georgia student developed a rare condition called necrotising fasciitis when she got a deep cut in her leg after a fall from a homemade zip line (also known as flying fox) over the Little Tallapoosa River in the US state of Georgia on May 1.

She has been hospitalised in critical condition, with kidney failure and other organ damage. And she had been on a breathing tube until recently, when doctors performed a tracheotomy, her father said.

Until last Thursday, Miss Copeland did not know the full extent of her condition, only that her hands were badly infected.

Mr Copeland said he told his daughter about what had happened since the accident, how her one leg had been amputated.

Doctors had once characterised her survival as "slim to none".

Said her father: "We told her of the outpouring of love from across the world.

"We told her that the world loved and admired her. We explained that she had become a symbol of hope, love and faith. Aimee's eyes widened and her jaw dropped. She was amazed."

In Miss Copeland's case, the necrotising fasciitis was caused by a bacteria known as Aeromonas hydrophila, which is found in warm rivers and streams.

Many people exposed to the bacteria don't get sick.

Flesh-destroying toxins

Flesh-destroying toxins

In Miss Copeland's case, the bacteria emit toxins that destroy muscle, fat and skin tissue.

Mr Copeland said he learnt last Thursday that doctors wanted to amputate his daughter's hands and remaining foot.

Doctors were concerned she could develop respiratory problems and if her hands released an infection in her body there was a risk she could become septic again, her father said.

Mr Copeland said he showed his daughter her hands, told her they were not healthy and were hampering her progress.

"Aimee, I do not want anything to happen to you," Ms Copeland said he told his 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."

Miss Copeland nodded her understanding.

Her father explained that she would eventually be fitted with prosthetics to help her get around and she nodded again.

Then she smiled, raised her hands up and looked at the damage.

She then turned to her family, gathered by her bedside and mouthed the words: "Let's do this."

Miss Copeland has since been taken off of a ventilator for several hours, and representing the latest milestone in her recovery, said her father.

Aimee "is breathing completely on her own! How cool is that?," her father wrote late Sunday on his blog, where he has been providing regular updates.

"She's cracking jokes, speaking frankly, displaying her usual early morning grumpiness and she has beenoff the ventilator for over 10 hours," he said. - Wire services.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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