The Korea Herald


Woman with flesh-eating disease refusing pain meds

By 문예빈

Published : June 18, 2012 - 09:09

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This photo provided by the family shows Aimee Copeland, the 24-year-old Georgia graduate student fighting to survive a flesh-eating bacterial infection. (AP) This photo provided by the family shows Aimee Copeland, the 24-year-old Georgia graduate student fighting to survive a flesh-eating bacterial infection. (AP)

A Georgia woman fighting a flesh-eating disease is refusing to take pain medications during some procedures, partly because of her personal convictions, her father said.

Aimee Copeland despises the use of morphine in her treatment, despite its effectiveness at blocking her pain, her father said in a Friday online update on his daughter’s condition. Her graduate-school study of holistic pain management techniques leads her to feel she’s a “traitor to her convictions” when she uses drugs to manage her pain, Andy Copeland said.

He also said the morphine has been making his daughter groggy, confused and has given her unpleasant hallucinatory episodes.

Aimee Copeland, 24, developed necrotizing fasciitis after cutting her leg in a fall May 1 from a homemade zip line over a west Georgia river. Her left leg, other foot and both hands have been amputated.

On Tuesday, Copeland’s condition was upgraded from critical to serious, “a major victory that cannot and should not be diminished,” Andy Copeland wrote Friday on his blog, where he has been providing regular updates on her progress. The development came shortly after Aimee Copeland had her first successful skin graft.

“The area of her wound, which I saw for the first time on Sunday during a dressing change, is massive,” her father wrote in Friday’s update.

“The nurse who completed Aimee’s dressing change was astonished at Aimee’s insistence to avoid morphine during the procedure, as was her mother and I,” he wrote. “I know the pain was significant, but Aimee’s courage is greater.”

The bacteria that attacked Aimee Copeland’s wound releases a toxin that destroys skin, muscle and a layer of tissue below the skin known as fascia, her father says.

Despite the painful skin grafts, Aimee Copeland has crossed several milestones in recent weeks. She can breathe on her own, she no longer needs dialysis and she’s now able to eat on her own, her father wrote. Although her major organs are all functioning well, Aimee Copeland still needs supplemental nutrition through a stomach tube.

This weekend, thousands of people are expected at a long-planned fund-raising event outside Atlanta to help the family with medical expenses. The two-day benefit concert in Aimee Copeland’s hometown of Snellville begins at 5 p.m. Friday and continues through Saturday night. (AP)

<관련 한글 기사>

사지절단 여대생, 진통제 거부한 이유는?

팔, 다리를 잘라내는 사투 끝에 ‘살 파먹는 박테리아’를 물리친 에이미 코플랜드(24.미국)가 진통제를 투여받지 않는 것으로 알려져 또 한번 화제가 되고 있다.

애틀랜타저널(AJC)은 17일(현지시간) 사지 절단 후 놀라운 회복세로 죽음의 위기를 넘긴 코플랜드가 최근 ‘학자적 양심’에 따라 모르핀 처방을 거부했다고 보도했다.

마약 성분이 든 진통제가 심리치료로 통증을 다스릴 수 있다고 믿고 배우는 그 스스로에게 배신감을 들게 만든다는 이유에서다.

그는 웨스트 조지아대 대학원에서 통합적 통증관리술을 전공하고 있다.

에이미는 슈퍼 박테리아에 감염돼 입원한 지 한 달 만인 이달 초부터 절단된 상처 부위에 피부조직 이식 수술을 진행하는 등 상태가 상당히 호전됐으나 통증은 여전히 심각한 것으로 전해졌다.

절단된 팔, 다리가 여전히 그 자리에 있는 것처럼 통증을 느끼는 환지통, 이른바 유령 사지통에 시달리는 등 환각증세도 보이고 있다.

그의 아버지인 앤디는 딸의 병세를 알리는 페이스북에 “거대한 절단 부위에 드레싱을 하는 간호사가 모르핀을 끝까지 거부하는 딸의 의지에 놀라움을 감추지 못했다”며 “고통이 엄청나지만, 그것을 이겨내는 딸의 용기가 더 크다”고 말했다.

한편, 지난 주말 그의 고향인 조지아주 스넬빌에서 병원비 모금을 위한 자선행사가 열리는 등 미국 각지에서 에이미의 쾌차를 바라는 온정이 답지하고 있다고 AP통신이 전했다. (연합뉴스)