Flesh-eating bacteria victim Aimee Copeland leaves hospital room for first time in 49 days

This undated family photo shows 24-year-old Georgia graduate student Aimee Copeland, right.
Personal Photo
Aimee Copeland in an undated personal photo.
Personal Photo

(CBS News) Aimee Copeland continues to make progress as she battles back from the flesh-eating infection necrotizing fasciitis, according to an update from her father Andy on Monday.

The 24-year-old Ga. graduate student, who developed the infection following a May 1 zipline accident, was able to "roll out" of her hospital room and outside for the first time in 49 days.

Andy has been updating a blog featured on the University of West Georgia psychology department's student website to inform the public of his daughter's progress.

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"In your mind's eye, you probably are picturing Aimee grabbing a wheelchair and scooting into it by herself and then rolling herself through doorways and down hallways like some superhuman quad amputee," Andy wrote. "Dispel such notions."

Aimee's left leg, hands and right foot had been amputated as a result of flesh-eating infection. Andy said in order to get out of the hospital room, a physical therapist had to help Aimee smoothly get into the wheelchair and sit upright. Then Andy pushed Aimee outside of the hospital while her mother followed along with water jug to keep her hydrated.

"All three of us talked while we rolled along and eventually we came to rest near a grove of pine trees," Andy wrote. "The smile on Aimee's face said that this was the best therapy that she has had in weeks."

In a blog post last week, Andy described his daughter's intense pain from her skin graft surgeries. Previously she had turned down painkillers because she studies holistic pain treatments for her master's program at the University of West Georgia, but the pain from the procedures - particularly one in which doctors had to take muscle from Aimee's abdomen to create a flap for a skin graft - was so severe that she was treated with painkillers.

Andy said Monday that his daughter is experiencing less pain this week.

"Today her pain is concentrated in only one area of her body, primarily her abdomen, the donor site of her muscle flap," Andy wrote Monday, saying last week when he wrote she experienced intense pain in at least eight different areas of her body. "Her progress from where she was a week ago is as night is to day"

On Tuesday June 12, Copeland's condition was upgraded from critical to serious, HealthPopreported, meaning she had some unstable vital signs as she continued to fight the infection. The Augusta Chronicle reported that Doctors Hospital in Augusta announced Monday that Copeland's condition had gone from serious to good, meaning her vital signs are within normal limits and she's conscious and comfortable.

"Indicators are excellent," hospital spokesperson Barclay Bishop told the paper.

In Monday's post, Andy Copeland wrote of the outpouring of support from celebrities, the public and namely fellow amputees who have going through similar difficulties as they relearned basic life skills.

Said Andy, "These are the heroes on which Aimee's inspiration and recovery will be based."