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Entries in Zip Line (3)

Monday
Jun182012

Aimee Copeland Pleads for Painkillers, Feels Like 'Patchwork Quilt'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Aimee Copeland, the Georgia student recovering from flesh-eating disease, is pleading for painkillers after surgery to replace swaths of bacteria-ravaged skin and muscle, her father said.

Copeland, 24, was hesitant to take morphine, telling her father she felt like "a traitor to her convictions."  But her preferred method of pain management, meditation, proved no match for the sting of skin grafts and muscle flaps to close a gaping wound on her abdomen and groin.

"Aimee is now taking pain medication in as liberal a dose as can be prescribed," Copeland's father, Andy Copeland, wrote in a blog post.  "If she even dared to refuse taking it, which she wouldn't, then the doctors would most certainly administer it in an IV drip."

It's been nearly seven weeks since Copeland cut open her calf in a fall from a homemade zip line near the Little Tallapoosa River, inviting a flesh-eating infection that claimed her left leg, right foot and hands.  Doctors also removed part of her torso, leaving a wound that was dutifully cleaned and covered with sterile bandages in advance of reconstructive surgery on Friday.

"During the most recent skin graft, her surgeons were forced to take muscle from Aimee's abdomen to create a flap over the iliac artery in her groin," Andy Copeland wrote.  "She says that she feels like a patchwork quilt, because her body is a collection of skin grafts and bandages."

A skin graft transplants a thin patch of skin surgically shaved from elsewhere on the body onto a wound.

"We can get sheets between 10 and 12 thousandths of an inch thick," said Dr. J. Blair Summitt, assistant professor of plastic surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.  "Within two or three days, tiny little blood vessels start to grow into the graft.  It's a fairly straightforward procedure."

Straightforward, but not painless.  Summitt said narcotic painkillers like morphine and Fentanyl help patients power through the painful reconstructive surgery.  But Andy Copeland said no drug is powerful enough to relieve his daughter's pain.

"The allowable doses of Morphine, Fentanyl and Lyrica are often inadequate to deal with the pain that Aimee is now experiencing," he wrote.  "Please believe me when I say that Aimee's refusal to use pain medication has ceased following her most recent surgery.  She is now requesting it ahead of schedule."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May222012

Another Case of Flesh-Eating Disease

ABC News(ATLANTA) -- A Georgia landscaper is battling a flesh-eating disease at the same Augusta hospital as Aimee Copeland, the 24-year-old student who lost her leg to the deadly infection.

Robert Vaughn, 32, contracted necrotizing fasciitis after cutting his thigh while trimming weeds May 4, three days after Aimee Copeland sliced open her calf falling from a homemade zip line near the Little Tallapoosa River.

Vaughn went to a hospital in Cartersville, Ga., where doctors gave him a prescription for antibiotics and recommended he stay for observation, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. But Vaughn, "being the man that I am," went home and watched the painful gash swell from the size of a peanut to that of a grapefruit.

He returned the next day and underwent emergency surgery.

"It was that bad," he told the newspaper, describing how doctors removed some of the infected flesh and sent him to Doctor's Hospital in Augusta for more surgeries. "They told me I was close to death."

It took five surgeries to remove more than two pounds of tissue infected by bacteria that burrowed deep into Vaughn's wound.

"The bacteria produce enzymes that can dissolve muscle deep down," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., and president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. "And because it's so deep, it can be a sneaky infection that's not immediately appreciated by the patient."

The symptom that should ring alarm bells, according to Schaffner, is "serious, unremitting pain."

"An otherwise healthy individual with a seemingly superficial injury who has severe pain should have a much more thorough evaluation," he said.

Indeed Vaughn said the pain was so bad he "could hardly move," the AJC reported.

Vaughn is expected to undergo skin grafts to replace some of the tissue removed during surgery.

"They have to rebuild my groin area," he told the AJC. "But I'm feeling much better now."

Vaughn was at one point next door to Copeland, who is slowly recovering from the infection that claimed her left leg and threatens to take her right foot and both hands. The two cases occurred 54 miles apart.

Copeland's infection was the work of Aeromonas hydrophila, a bacteria that thrives in warm climates and fresh water like the river where Copeland was zip lining with friends. The bacteria that caused Vaughn's infection is unclear.

Vaughn is the third person to contract flesh-eating disease in Georgia in three weeks. Lana Kuykendall, 36, developed necrotizing fasciitis May 11 after giving birth to twins at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. She is reportedly in critical but stable condition.

Doctors say the cases are rare and unrelated.

To reduce the risk of necrotizing fasciitis, all wounds big and small should be immediately cleaned, treated with antimicrobial ointment and covered with sterile bandages, according to the National Necrotizing Fasciitis Foundation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May102012

Girl's Rare Flesh-Eating Disease Caused by Common Bacteria

WSB/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The rare flesh-eating disease that claimed a Georgia woman's leg and has her fighting for her life was caused by a common bacterium that thrives in warm climates and fresh water.

Aimee Copeland, a 24-year-old master's student at the University of West Georgia, has necrotizing fasciitis caused by Aeromonas hydrophila, a bacteria usually linked to intestinal disease.

"This bacteria is a common cause of diarrheal illness," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., and president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. "For it to cause a deep wound infection that dissolves tissue, that's not common."

Copeland was riding a homemade zip line near the Little Tallapoosa River on May 1 when the line snapped, slashing open her left calf. Doctors at Tanner Medical Center in Carrollton, Ga., cleaned the gash and closed it with 22 staples, but Copeland returned to the hospital the next day complaining of severe pain.

"The symptom that should ring alarm bells is serious, unremitting pain," said Schaffner, describing how the bacteria can, under rare circumstances, burrow deep into a wound and dissolve muscle and other tissue.

Doctors sent Copeland home with a prescription for painkillers, according to her Father, Andy, but the pain persisted. Copeland returned to the hospital the following day and was released again, this time with antibiotics. On Friday -- three full days after the zip line accident -- Copeland was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis and her left leg was amputated at the hip.

The two main treatments for necrotizing fasciitis disease are antibiotics and surgery to remove the infected tissue, Schaffner said, stressing that bacteria left behind can cause a deadly blood infection.

"You have to look at the wound and think, 'This is as far as the infection has gone; now I have to cut even further,'" he said.

After her leg was amputated, Copeland was flown to Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga., where doctors removed parts of her abdomen. She is in critical condition.

Copeland's prognosis is unknown, but mortality rates for Aeromonas-related necrotizing fasciitis are upward of 60 percent, according to a 2010 report published in the journal Clinical Microbiology Reviews.

Nearly 70 percent of Aeromonas wound infections stem from recreational occupational injuries in sporting activities, such as swimming or fishing, according to the 2010 report.

To reduce the risk of necrotizing fasciitis, all wounds big and small should be immediately cleaned, treated with antimicrobial ointment and covered with sterile bandages, according to the National Necrotizing Fasciitis Foundation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio