Giffords’ Condition Upgraded to Serious

Posted January 16, 2011 at 6:44pm

Doctors in Arizona upgraded the condition of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to serious from critical on Sunday.

The Arizona Democrat is recovering from a gunshot wound to the head at University Medical Center in Tucson. Her doctors removed her from a ventilator Saturday, one week after she was shot, and inserted a tracheotomy tube to protect her airway and a feeding tube to provide nutrition.

The procedures “are not uncommon among brain-injured patients in the Intensive Care Unit,” the hospital said in a statement Saturday.

Because Giffords, 40, is no longer on a ventilator, she was upgraded to serious condition, the hospital said in a new statement Sunday.

“The Congresswoman continues to do well,” the statement said. “She is breathing on her own. Yesterday’s procedures were successful and uneventful.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a friend of Giffords’, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that Giffords is using both sides of her body, breathing on her own, opening her eyes, and communicating that she understands what she’s hearing and seeing as she recovers. She is not, however, able to talk yet, Gillibrand said.

“It’s an extraordinary amount of progress for a woman who sustained such a horrific injury that she did,” she added.

Giffords’ doctors are not expected to give a full briefing on her progress until Monday. Two other people injured in the Jan. 8 attack remain in good condition at the hospital.

The attack killed six people and injured 13, not 14, as had been originally reported. The local sheriff’s office attributed the decrease on Friday to the initial confusion surrounding the shooting.

John Stanton contributed to this report.