By Debbie Emery – Radar Reporter
A gardener from Georgia who is battling the same rare flesh-eating bacteria that led to Aimee Copeland’s multiple amputations ended up in the hospital in the room next door to the 24-year-old student.
Robert “Bobby” Vaughn, 32, contracted necrotizing fasciitis after cutting his thigh while trimming weeds on May 4, three days after Aimee sliced open her calf falling from a homemade zip line near the Little Tallapoosa River, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The landscaper from nearby Cartersville endured his sixth surgery on Tuesday but so far he has avoided the extreme procedures that led to Copeland losing her left leg, right foot and both hands.
After suffering a small cut on his upper leg, Vaughn “started dry heaving and throwing up,” and suffered a backache and weakness. “I could hardly move; I was in a lot of pain,” he said, and soon the bump exploded from the size of a peanut to a grapefruit.
The next day, Vaughn went back to the hospital and asked to be admitted, so doctors took him directly to surgery. “It was that bad. They told me I was close to death,” he told the AJC.
Since then, he has had more than two pounds of tissue removed to stay ahead of the infection and is now enduring painful skin grafts to repair where the flesh was cut away, but is “feeling much better now.”
As RadarOnline.com previously reported, while recovery is still a long way down the road for University of West Georgia Psychology student Aimee, she has finally been taken off the ventilator and is “cracking jokes,” revealed her father, Andy Copeland.
“They are running an oxygen ‘mask’ to her tracheostomy at an o2 level of only 35 percent, but the important thing is that she is getting zero breath per minute (bpm) assists,” her dad explained. “In other words, she is breathing completely on her own! How cool is that?”
Doctors insist there is no link or common cause among the victims.
The bacteria that triggered the infection in both Georgia natives, Aeromonas hydrophila, thrives in warm climates and fresh water. While common, the germ rarely causes flesh-eating disease. But when it does, the infection carries a fatality rate upward of 60 percent, according to a 2010 report published in the Journal Clinical Microbiology Reviews.