June 9, 2012 at 4:25 PM EST - Updated June 27 at 6:59 AM
A new mother, who's been fighting for her life since contracting a flesh-eating bacteria days after her twins were born, has improved enough this week to have a brief visit with her babies for the first time since she was admitted to the hospital.
Lana Kuykendall has been upgraded to fair condition at Greenville Memorial Hospital, and on Wednesday, she spent some time with her twins, who turned 1-month-old Thursday.
Kuykendall, who was paramedic for years, met her husband Darren, a firefighter, on the scene of an accident in 2005. They were married in 200
Her family says she always looked forward to being a mother and was delighted to be able to carry her twins to full term.
Abigail and Ian were born healthy. But, within days of giving birth, Kuykendall was admitted to the hospital on May 11 with necrotizing fasciitis.
enall's husband, Darren, said on Thursday, "She has improved tremendously over the last week. Although she is still in ICU, we believe she is on the road to recovery."
He said she has been weaned off the constant IV drips of her sedative and pain medicine and is only receiving them as needed.
"She looks more and more like herself," he said.
A team of surgeons, critical-care physicians and infectious disease specialists have treated and monitored Kuykendall.
Kuykendall underwent nearly 20 surgical procedures to stop the spread of the necrotizing fasciitis. Her treatment required aggressive surgical intervention, but no amputations. In addition to surgeries, she also underwent extensive hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Over the last few days, Kuykendall has had longer periods of alertness and tries to respond to the people in the room and the conversations going on around her, said family members. She is able to communicate by blinking her eyes, raising her eyebrows, pointing and mouthing words.
Kuykendall's brother, Brian Swaffer, said, "One milestone we have all been praying and waiting for was reached on Wednesday when Lana was able to have a visit from the twins, Abigail and Ian."
He said, "About 45 minutes before they arrived, Darren told Lana that they were coming. Lana couldn't stop looking at the clock to see if it was time yet. Lana grinned from ear to ear when she was holding them.
"Thank you to all who have been praying for this moment to arrive," he said. "We praise the Lord for Lana's progress and want to thank the extraordinary medical team that's cared for her and the many people in the community and around the world who are praying for Lana's recovery."
Kuykendall is tentatively scheduled for skin-grafting surgery, but doctors have not said when.