Giffords Is Making Steady Progress, Gillibrand Says

Sunday, 16 Jan 2011 09:05 PM

(Updates with statement from hospital in fifth paragraph.)

Jan. 16 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, shot in the head in last weekend’s Arizona rampage, is making steady progress, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.

“She’s doing great,” said Gillibrand, a friend. “I talked to her husband Mark last night. She’s making progress every day.”

While it’s “far too early” for the congresswoman to speak, Gillibrand said, “she’s using both sides of her body. She’s able to breathe on her own. She’s able to open her eyes and understand and show people she understands what she’s hearing and seeing.”

Giffords began breathing without a ventilator yesterday as doctors took out the breathing tube that had run down her throat and replaced it with a tracheotomy tube in her windpipe. Surgeons also inserted a feeding tube.

Giffords “has been upgraded to serious condition from critical because she is no longer on a ventilator,” the University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona, said in a statement on its website. “The Congresswoman continues to do well. She is breathing on her own.”

Doctors previously said Giffords, a 40-year-old Arizona Democrat, was making major strides in her recovery, opening her eyes and beginning physical therapy. She is able to communicate and move her legs on command. She is still listed in critical condition.

The Jan. 8 shooting attack, allegedly by Jared Loughner, killed six people and wounded 13.

--Editors: Ann Hughey, Jim Rubin, Peter Hirschberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sandrine Rastello in Washington at srastello@bloomberg.net Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net.

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