06/26/2012 12:56 pm ET Updated Jun 26, 2012

Aimee Copeland, Flesh-Eating Disease Victim, Goes Outdoors With Parents

Flesh-eating disease victim Aimee Copeland's condition was upgraded to “good” by hospital officials on Monday -- a magnificent feat for the 24-year-old grad-student who originally showed little chance of survival.

Over the weekend Aimee went outside for the first time since she acquired the disease in early May. Her mother and father pushed her wheelchair around the exterior of the hospital, discussing the effects of her experience. A photograph taken during the outdoors excursion reveals a smiling Aimee with her beaming parents standing close behind her.

Her father, Andy Copeland, updated his blog, stating that “Her progress from where she was a week ago is as night is to day.”

The joy in Copeland’s father’s blog was palpable as he relayed Aimee’s medical status. He writes:

“Speaking of daylight, Aimee got a huge dose of it yesterday. For the first time in 49 days, Aimee got up in a wheelchair and rolled out of her hospital room.


Now that you have picked yourself up off the floor, I will continue.”

According to the blog entry, Aimee told her father during their time together that she believed she was lucky to have such a transformative experience.

“I am blessed to be able to have a challenge that not many others get to have,” Copeland’s father wrote, quoting Aimee. “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.”

Aimee, who was finishing her masters degree at University of West Georgia, sustained a cut while on a homemade zipline over a west Georgia river on May 1. After seeking several rounds of stitches to remedy the cut, doctors realized that Aimee had acquired Necrotizing Fasciitis, commonly referred to as flesh-eating bacteria. The disease is rare, with an approximate 500 to 1,500 cases reported a year. However, 20 to 25 percent of victims die.

As a result of the disease, Copeland has had her left leg, right foot, and both hands amputated. Part of her torso has also been removed.

Though Copeland’s father applauded Aimee’s strength in his blog post, he reminded his readers not to see her as an “unreal superwoman,” but as a resilient individual.

“I only relate this because I want you to understand and appreciate the incredible heart of a very strong young lady,” he writes. “I also ask you to grant her the grace to be less than perfect. I’m sure that she will 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.”



Aimee Copeland