(SNELLVILLE, Ga.) — Aimee Copeland, the Georgia student who lost her left leg, right foot and hands to a flesh-eating disease, helped design the addition to her childhood home known as “Aimee’s wing.”
Copeland, 24, is living at an inpatient rehabilitation center, where she will learn to use an electrical wheelchair and, eventually, prosthetic limbs. But in as few as six weeks, she will move into the two-story wing carefully crafted to aid her recovery.
“She designed it with my help,” said architect Rob Ponder, a family friend who volunteered his services. “She was the one saying, ‘This is where I want my bedroom; this is where I want my study.'”
The wing off the back of the Copeland home in Snellville, Ga., will also house a fitness room, a sunroom and an elevator.
“Six years from now, when all the excitement has died down, she’s going to be living in this house,” Ponder said. “We want it to be functional, durable, and exactly the way she wants.”
Ponder visited Copeland twice at Doctors Hospital in Augusta, where the young woman spent 59 days recovering from a deadly infection after a zipline injury. And despite the lingering pain of amputations and skin grafts, Copeland was excited to weigh in on her new wing.
“She told me all the things she wanted,” Ponder said, describing the fitness room where Copeland can build her strength and the quiet study where she can finish her master’s thesis. “Ultimately, we’re trying to give her as much independence as we can as early as possible.”
Ponder said Copeland’s father, Andy Copeland, reached out to him for help with the design.
“He had a bunch of ideas about where things should go,” Ponder said. “But I said, ‘Wait a minute. Is that what Aimee wants? She’s 24, and might not want her bedroom right next to the kitchen.”
Ponder said Aimee Copeland was glad to have a say in the design of her new digs.
“She was happy, and so excited about getting to the next step,” Ponder said, recalling Copeland’s three-word response to the news she would lose her hands: “Let’s do this”. “She’s the same about her house.”
Volunteer workers have already demolished a deck to make room for the wing. And with permits finally in hand, the work is set to start on Monday.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jacqueline Howard, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com
Wayne Drash and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN
Virginia Anderson, Kaiser Health News