Rep. Gabrielle Giffords continues to improve

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by Warren Trent

azfamily.com

Posted on January 15, 2011 at 3:16 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 17 at 9:25 PM

TUCSON, Ariz. - Rep. Gabrielle Giffords no longer needs a ventilator to aide her breathing as she recovers from a gunshot wound to the head she sustained a week ago.

Saturday morning she underwent a procedure to have a tracheotomy tube inserted in her windpipe to protect her airways.  

Doctors also inserted a feeding tube to provide nutrition.

Doctors have also successfully performed a surgery on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' eye socket to remove bone fragments as the wounded congresswoman showed more signs of improvement.

There were no complications from the surgery, and Giffords is improving so much that she was able to give her husband a back rub.

Doctors say she can now breathe on her own, but still cannot speak because of the tracheotomy.

Dr. Randall Friese said Mark Kelly also told doctors he saw Giffords smile. He said sometimes people see what they want to see, but that "if he says she's smiling, I buy it."

Dr. Michael Lemole says the eye operation entailed making an incision above the eyebrow, removing bone chips to relieve pressure and reconstructing the roof of the socket.

Giffords, who was shot one week ago at a Tucson-area Safeway during a 'Congress on Your Corner' event, was upgraded from critical to serious condition.

Six people died in the shooting.

Also on Saturday, another patient who was injured was discharged from University Medical Center.

Two others remain in good condition at UMC.

The Safeway supermarket re-opened on Saturday after it had been shut down since the shooting that happened around 10:30 a.m.

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