Giffords' doctor: 'We're very happy at this point'

She may be 'at the edge of the woods' Friday as she moves on her own
2011-01-13T00:00:00Z 2014-07-30T17:24:16Z Giffords' doctor: 'We're very happy at this point'Stephanie Innes Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 13, 2011 12:00 am  • 

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords remains in critical condition, but she's making spontaneous movements on her own all the time - including fixing her hospital gown, one of her doctors said Wednesday morning.

"She was able to actually even feel her wounds herself," said Dr. Peter Rhee, medical director of trauma at University Medical Center. "We're very happy at this point."

The congresswoman's sedation continues to get cut back. She's still not out of the woods, but by Friday, Rhee said, she may be "at the edge of the woods."

Rhee said Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, has been by her side constantly, and the medical staff is encouraging him to get some rest.

"Right now, between now and the weekend, if something is going to go bad it will happen in this time period," Rhee said. "Let's say by Friday we're at the very edge of the woods. We've got a couple of days."

Rhee said Giffords "without a doubt" will have some permanent damage from the bullet that went through the left side of her brain.

"But will she be functional, viable, normal - you know, I can't say for sure, but I am very hopeful that she will be," Rhee said. "We have really decreased the amount of sedation we are giving her, and as a result of that she's becoming more and more spontaneous all the time."

On Tuesday, Rhee said he was "101 percent" certain Giffords would survive the wound. The bullet went clear through the left side of her brain. While doctors had initially believed it went from back to front, they now say it appears to have gone from front to back.

The entry point was in the upper half of her head, near the eye socket.

"All I can say is that she's getting better every day," Rhee said.

OTHER SHOOTING VICTIMS

Family members of two Giffords staff members injured Saturday say that while their loved ones are recovering from physical wounds, they will face a longer road overcoming grief.

Six patients from Saturday's shooting remain in UMC. Giffords is the only one still in critical condition, two are serious, and three are in fair condition.

Giffords' district director, Ron Barber, underwent his second surgery Tuesday (the first was Saturday), and his family said he's expected to move out of the intensive-care unit today.

He was shot in the cheek and the left groin area. His family says he remembers the entire event "very clearly."

Barber's daughter, Jenny Douglas, spoke with reporters Wednesday and said her father was alert but "so deeply saddened" by the loss of fellow staffer Gabe Zimmerman and federal Judge John Roll, a longtime friend. She said Barber has been asking about Giffords constantly. The family hopes Barber will be able to visit with Giffords soon.

Barber's family thanked Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez, "whose clear thinking and actions in the midst of chaos undoubtedly helped to save Congresswoman Giffords' life."

The family also thanked Anna Ballis, a Tucson resident who applied pressure to Barber's wounds until the paramedics arrived. A photo of Ballis, her knees covered in blood, ran on the front page of Sunday's Arizona Daily Star. Barber is hoping to meet with Ballis this week.

"We are greatly indebted to her," Douglas said.

Fritz Simon, son of Pam Simon, Giffords' community outreach coordinator, read a brief statement from his injured mother.

"The wounds inflicted are healing, thanks to the amazing care of the doctors and staff here at University Medical Center," he said. "The deeper wounds of needless loss of life, severe injury of co-workers and community members, and the sadness over this act of violence will take much longer to heal.

"I am touched and encouraged by the tremendous caring and coming together of the community."

Simon also asked that the community pray for Giffords. "She is a leader who is truly needed in this nation."

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