Roy Exum: Aimee Gets New Hands

Monday, May 20, 2013
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Aimee Copeland reached for a potato chip and, with a pretty smile, popped it into her mouth and crunched it up. It sounds like nothing but it was an incredible “God moment” just one year after her bout with necrotizing fasciitis capitated the world and left a beautiful young woman with no hands, her left leg removed on one side and a right foot amputated on another.

Last May she had joined some other grad students from the University of West Georgia on the Little Tallapoosa River when a zip-line they were riding malfunctioned, the resulting fall opening a gash in her leg that took 22 staples to close. Three days later she returned to the hospital with a rare case of a flesh-eating bacterial infection that darn near took away her life.

Because I have one hand that is pretty much ornamental, I have followed her story and – in just one year – there has been one miracle after another.

When the fasciitis got its grip, doctors in Augusta raced to stay ahead of the ruthless disease which emits toxins that destroy living tissue, having to amputate more and more as her organs shut down and she was placed on a respirator. Finally her life was spared and she spent the next two months at Shepherd Center in Atlanta, learned how to live all over again. “I don’t think of myself as disabled, I just have different abilities.”

There is an Ohio-based company, Touch Bionics, that got “in touch” with Aimee and offered her a special deal; they would donate two “i-limb ultra revolution hands” – valued at $120,000 each -- if she would become their spokesperson. Each hand can be set in 27 primary positions using muscles in her upper arms and now she can pick up a Skittle, sign her name, feed herself – you name it.

“It mimics the natural hand so well that it just reminds me of how I’d do things before the accident. The prosthetics can be set to various functions with an iPad application and these can be downloaded into an iPhone of iPod as well. “I never thought I’d be able to hold a knife and cut something. They are incredible.”

Let me tell you what else is incredible. A homebuilder, Pultie Homes, contributed a 1,965 square-foot addition on her parents’ house called “Aimee’s Wing” that is totally accessible to anything she may wish to do. A Chevrolet dealer provided her with a specially-equipped car. This summer, when she will work at a wildness camp for amputee children, she will meet her “service dog” and now the plans include returning to school and getting her master’s degree.

She wears a prosthesis where her foot was removed and is being fitted for a “total leg” that will enable her to walk again. As she told Katie Couric, ““I love life. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s something I don’t take for granted anymore.”

Her story is absolutely amazing but, far better, is what lies ahead.

* * *

MY FUNNY JOKE: Two beggars are sitting side by side on a street in Rome, Italy. One has a Cross in front of him; the other one is holding the Star of David. Many people go by, look at both beggars, but only put money into the hat of the beggar sitting behind the Cross. 
The Pope comes by. He stops to watch the throngs of people giving money to the beggar who holds the Cross while none give to the beggar holding the Star of David. Finally, the Pope approaches the beggar with the Star of David and says, "My poor fellow, don't you understand? This is a Catholic country; this city is the Seat of Catholicism. People aren't going to give you money if you sit there with a Star of David in front of you, especially when you're sitting beside a beggar who is holding a Cross. In fact, they would probably give more money to him just out of spite.” 
The beggar with the Star of David listened to the Pope, smiled, and turned to the beggar with the Cross and said, "Moishe, look who's trying to teach the Goldstein brothers about marketing!"

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