On January 8, 2011, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head in Casas Adobes, Arizona. The shooting took place during her first “Congress on Your Corner” gathering of the year. Gabrielle was quickly rushed to the University Medical Center at Tucson. On her way there, she was conscious and able to respond to commands. Upon arriving at the hospital, she was put into surgery where part of her skull was removed to reduce swelling and to avoid further damage to the brain. The bullet crossed through her head and exited, which was actually a good sign because most of the bullet’s energy was expended in its trajectory.
Mark Kelly, Giffords’ husband, flew from Houston to Tucson with their kids to see his wife as soon as he heard the news. Gabrielle Giffords was placed in a medically induced coma to allow her brain to rest. When she was awakened periodically, she was able to signal with her hands and move both arms. She cannot speak, however, since she is on a ventilator. On January 12th, she opened her eyes for the first time. Giffords started some simple physical therapy, such as sitting up with the assistance of hospital staff and moving her legs on command. On January 15th, a tracheotomy was performed on Giffords’ throat to replace the ventilator with a smaller one to help with independent breathing. Doctors believe she will recover, although her recovery may take from several months to over one year.