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Family hopeful as Aimee Copeland communicates through lip reading, but more amputations likely

10:58 AM, May 14, 2012   |    comments
Aimee Copeland, 24, is fighting for her life at JMS Burn Center in Augusta, her father Andy said on Facebook. (Credit: Facebook/ Believe and pray for a miracle to happen for Aimee Copeland)
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(CBS News) Aimee Copeland continues to fight necrotizing fasciitis in a Ga. Hospital, her family says.

Over the weekend, the 24-year-old psychology graduate student's friends and family updated a blog on the University of West Georgia psychology department's student website. The family previously had been concerned Aimee would lose her hands and other foot because the blood vessels had died. On Saturday evening, the blog said that Aimee will suffer the loss of her fingers, but doctors at JMS Burn Center in Augusta Ga. are hopeful of bringing life back to the palms of her hands, which would allow her the muscle control to eventually use prosthetic devices.

"They are awaiting a safe time before embarking on surgery for this," the blog read.

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In a link to a separate post, Copeland's father Andy updated the public on his daughter's condition in his own words. A post from Saturday morning reads: "The miracle continues. The words I hear from the medical professionals to describe Aimee's continued recovery are 'astonishing,' 'incredible,' 'confounding,' 'mind boggling' and 'unbelievable.' All those are fitting words."

Andy writes that Aimee's lungs had been stressed and damaged, to the point where she needed 100 percent pure oxygen fed to her through a respirator. The doctors have been gradually reducing that oxygen over the past week and towards the end of Saturday, she was down to 33 percent oxygen.

"This puts her 12 points away from Aimee Day," her dad said. That is the day when Aimee's oxygen intake will be taken down to what people typically breath in the air around us, 21 percent oxygen.

He also detailed how the family has been communicating with Aimee, by trying to read her lips, shrugs, smiles, nods and eye movements. At times when lip-reading was too difficult, Andy started naming letters until Aimee would nod, eventually spelling out a sentence asking for her sister.

The family also spent Mother's Day together, while Aimee remained on a ventilator with 33 percent oxygen. Her dad said she hates it, which he likens to trying to breathe through a straw. She is also being treated with medication to reduce her stress from the ordeal, while her family continues to pray with her.

On Monday, Andy went on NBC's "Today" show and said ice cream is the first thing Aimee wants when she's able to breathe on her own, the Associated Press reported.

Aimee contracted the rare flesh-eating infection following an accident on a homemade zip line during a trip where she and her friends kayaked along the Little Tallapoosa River in Carrollton, Ga.

For the infection, bacteria enter the body through cuts and scratches and give off toxins that cut off blood flow, quickly destroying muscle, fat and skin tissue. The bacteria that infected Copeland, a bug called Aeromonas hydrophila, is found in warm, brackish waters.

The National Institutes of Health has more on necrotizing fasciitis.

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