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Las Vegas woman battling flesh-eating bacteria undergoes 18 surgeries

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A 22-year-old woman battling a flesh eating bacteria has had 18 surgeries in less than four months and on track to have more. 

"Tragic, yet she's incredibly fortunate. Most cases of necrotizing fasciitis ... they're not alive," said Matthew Hoffmann with Battle Born Injury Lawyers. 

Hoffmann is talking about his client, Ashleigh Cope. A flesh-eating bacteria attacked 40% of her skin. Doctors removed the bacteria, and now she's in phase two: skin grafting. 

"She had a very large skin graft attempt on her back which has extensive damage and unfortunately she went into septic shock," said Hoffmann. 

Cope spent the last few weeks recovering from that so doctors can try again. 

"The future involved more surgeries, more time in the hospital," said Hoffmann. 

Hoffman said this all started from a hospital visit. Cope had a cosmetic procedure on Nov. 26. Hoffman said right after the procedure was done, she was in pain and felt nauseous. 

"We believe that the instrument may not have been properly sanitized," said Hoffman. 

Hoffmann said the next day, Cope's surgeon told her to go to a free-standing Emergency Room. 

"That's where she was diagnosed almost immediately with sepsis, yet held for nine hours," said Hoffmann. 

The only treatment for flesh-eating bacteria is surgery. 

"The longer you wait the worse it spreads and the more flesh you will lose, period." 

Hoffmann said doctors eventually transferred her to a hospital that owns the free-standing ER, even though he said there was a full-service hospital closer. Hoffmann wouldn't specify which surgeon and ER she used. He said she started doing better once doctors at University Medical Center started treating her. 

"They're literally heroes in this case and just the strong will of Ashleigh," said Hoffmann. 

Support from her family helps too. 

"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." 

FOX5 talked to close family friends back in December. 

Months later, they're still by her side as she keeps fighting. 

"She's tough, she's very tough," said Hoffmann. 

Hoffman plans to take legal action for medical malpractice, fraud and neglect. 

It's not clear when Cope could get out of the hospital. If you would like to donate to her medical expenses, click here.