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Georgia woman with flesh-eating bacteria gets skin graft

By the CNN Wire Staff
June 16, 2012 -- Updated 1533 GMT (2333 HKT)
Aimee Copeland in an undated photograph. Copeland is recovering from an infectious flesh-eating bacteria.
Aimee Copeland in an undated photograph. Copeland is recovering from an infectious flesh-eating bacteria.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A second skin-graft procedure is scheduled for Friday
  • The graft is performed on an open wound on Aimee Copeland's abdomen
  • Copeland, 24, was upgraded this week from critical to serious condition

Atlanta (CNN) -- The young Georgia woman fighting a flesh-eating bacteria underwent a successful skin graft this week as she continues her astounding recovery.

The procedure was performed Monday on a massive wound left open when doctors were forced to remove tissue last month from Aimee Copeland's abdomen, side and hip in an effort to prevent the spread of the bacteria, according to an update posted on her father's blog Friday.

Georgia flesh-eating bacteria victim's condition upgraded

An additional skin graft was scheduled to be performed Friday, her father said, describing it as the "final initial graft procedure to close the open wound."

Flesh-eating bacteria victim 'courageous'
Front Lines: Copeland utters first words

"I say 'final initial' because I understand that skin surfaces continue to break down over time and that Aimee will need follow-up surgeries to repair those areas in the weeks, months and years ahead," Andy Copeland wrote. "Aimee's wound repair is a lifelong process that will require ongoing attention and medical care, however, the surgery today will bring her one step closer to her biggest challenge yet: rehab."

Earlier this week, Copeland, 24, was upgraded from critical to serious condition at Doctors Hospital of Augusta, where she has been receiving treatment.

Aimee Copeland speaks, jokes, father says
The young Snellville woman's ordeal began May 1, when she was riding a makeshift zip line across the Little Tallapoosa River, about 50 miles west of Atlanta. The line snapped, and she fell and got a gash in her left calf that took 22 staples to close.

Three days later, still in pain, she went to an emergency room. Doctors eventually determined she had necrotizing fasciitis caused by the flesh-devouring bacterium Aeromonas hydrophila.

In addition to the tissue removed from her abdomen, the bacteria led surgeons to amputate most of her hands, one of her legs and her remaining foot in an effort to stay ahead of the disease.

Copeland late last month began breathing on her own and talking for the first time in weeks, and even cracked jokes, her father said.

Family counters bacteria with faith

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