Giffords breathing on her own

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By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords continues on what appears to be a miraculous recovery from a bullet shot in her brain.  Doctors at University Medical Center in Tucson on Tuesday said she is now breathing on her own, even though they have left a ventilator tube in her throat to protect against further complications.

Dr. Michael Lemole told reporters that they are slowly reducing the amount of medication for Representative Giffords and so far they like what they see.  But Lemole said, "As long as we don't backslide, as long as she holds her own, that's good news."  Lemole reminded reporters that Giffords injuries are serious and she is "not yet out of the woods".  He says most people don't survive this type of injury.

UMC brought in two military medical experts to work with their team.  Both have extensive battlefield trauma experience.  Both praised the treatment the victims have received at UMC and said it's likely more would have died without the quick response and treatment.

Dr. Rhee said they now believe the bullet which struck Representative Giffords entered through her forehead above her left eye and exited the left rear of her skull.  That's reverse what they initially believed.  He said they had reached that conclusion based on the advice of the military experts.

Doctor have said in previous updates that the ability for Giffords' to follow basic commands indicates that her brain is functioning at a high level.

From here on out, there's no specific step-by-step protocol for doctors to follow.

"This is the phase of the care where it's so much up to her," Lemole said.

Dr. Peter Rhee of the trauma team at UMC, said Giffords is the only patient still in the hospital listed in critical condition.  She remains in the intensive care unit.

Two more of the victims from Saturday's mass shooting have been released from the hospital, leaving six people still in the care of University Medical Center.

Doctors report that of the six patients from the shooting in UMC, three remain in serious condition, two are in good condition.