Nevada Woman Who Caught Flesh-Eating Bacteria Has Over a Dozen Surgeries After Infection Damages 40 Percent of Skin

A Nevada woman plans to sue a hospital after she caught a so-called flesh-eating bacteria last year, leading her to endure over a dozen surgeries.

Ashleigh Cope, 22, developed what is known as necrotizing fasciitis in November following a visit to an unidentified hospital in the city of Henderson, near Las Vegas, according to a fundraising page set up on her behalf.

Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare condition, commonly but incorrectly referred to as "flesh-eating" because it makes the skin die as if it has been devoured. A range of bacteria can cause the infection, most commonly A. Streptococcus, as well as Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, E. coli, Clostridium and Vibrio.

Cope, a single mom without health insurance, has had 18 surgeries and is due to have more after the bacteria destroyed 40 percent of her skin, her lawyer told Fox 5. Cope plans to take legal action against the facility where she is thought to have caught the infection, for alleged medical malpractice, fraud and neglect.

To save Cope's life, surgeons at a separate hospital first cut away the infection, and are now attempting to perform skin grafts. However, this has presented its own difficulties, with a skin graft on her back a few weeks ago failing and sending her into septic shock, according to Hoffmann.

Hoffmann said his client's problems started after she felt sick and in pain following a cosmetic procedure on November 26.

Doctors advised Cope to go to an emergency room, where she was diagnosed with sepsis, the term used to describe a life-threatening reaction the body can have to infection. Hoffmann believes an unsanitary tool was to blame. Cope was later transferred to a separate hospital.

Hoffman described the healthcare workers who treated Cope at University Medical Center (UMC) as "heroes" and said his client is "very tough."

"I've visited her many times at UMC and there's always family and friends there but the toll on her immediate family, particularly her mother, has been dramatic," he said.

According to an update on her GoFundMe page posted on February 29 following her failed skin graft: "Ashleigh was heartbroken and felt like giving up. She has had to continually dig deep into her soul to find strength to push forward.

"Ashleigh is scared to be alone. The torment and PTSD she seems to be suffering from is present in every dressing change, minor procedure, or even movement in her bed strikes a fear so deep in her that the anticipation overwhelms her with tears."

Cope's mother has been by her side for the past few months, the page stated, and is "almost unable to leave the hospital because Ashleigh has needed her moms [sic] strength and help."

"At times Ashleigh has needed to be spoon fed because of her inability to move," the update went on. "Her mom has also struggled with witnessing every moment of Ashleigh's pain and suffering. Ashleigh feels comfort and less anxiety when her mom is in the room with her," the website read. Cope may need to stay in hospital for a further three months.

Hoffmann told Fox 5: "Tragic, yet she's incredibly fortunate. Most cases of necrotizing fasciitis… they're not alive".

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A stock image shows a patient in hospital. Getty