(CBS News) Aimee Copeland, the 24-year-old graduate student who is fighting for her life against the flesh-eating disease necrotizing fasciitis is very responsive and coherent, according to a blog posted on a University of West Georgia Psychology department student website.
In a post written Thursday afternoon, Aimee's classmate Ken Lewis provided an update for those following the tragic story, saying Aimee unfortunately will need her hands and her remaining foot amputated because the blood vessels have died.
Last week doctors had performed a hip-high amputation on Aimee's left leg. Not all the news was bleak, with Lewis writing that Aimee is responding to specific commands and has even selected the music she wants to hear.
"The neurologist says that there is no indication of any brain damage," Lewis wrote. "The cardiopulmonologist says that her lungs are slowly healing."
Aimee's sister Paige also wrote an update today on the Facebook page their father had set to raise awareness about Aimee's condition.
"Seeing Aimee this morning was so refreshing," Paige wrote Thursday afternoon. "Her eyes are wide open and she is nodding or shaking her head to the questions we ask. My hope for her recovery is stronger than ever!"
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a "Love Aimee" vigil is being held tonight at the University of West Georgia campus. Blood donations are also being accepted at the JMS Burn Center in Augusta where she has been hospitalized since last Friday.
Last Friday, emergency room doctors at Tanner Medical Center in Carrollton, Ga., diagnosed Copeland with necrotizing fasciitis. According to the Journal-Constitution, Copeland received a nasty cut on her leg last Tuesday on a homemade zip line she was using that broke as she and her friends kayaked along the Little Tallapoosa River in Carrollton.
Doctors closed the gash with 22 staples, but her conditioned worsened over the next few days until she was eventually hospitalized and diagnosed with the disease. The paper reports the bacteria that caused the disease was Aeromonas hydrophila, which is typically found in freshwater.
Symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis include a small red painful lump or bump in the skin that changes to a very painful rapidly growing bruise (sometimes within an hour), and the center of the bruise may become black and die, or break open and ooze fluid. Other symptoms include fever, sweating, chills, nausea, dizziness and shock. Immediate treatment, such as with powerful IV antibiotics or surgery is necessary to prevent death.
WebMD has more on necrotizing fasciitis.