Giffords' doctors balancing roles of surgeon and celebrity

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From surgeons to celebrities, the two doctors who have been by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords side since she got to the hospital have had quite the experience these past couple of weeks. They've worked double time to tend to critically injured patients, and keep the world updated every step of the day.

For nearly 2 weeks they've been the faces of the recovery from a tragedy that's stunned the nation. “it has been a little chaotic,” said University Medical Center trauma director Dr. Peter Rhee, a decorated military surgeon.

His counterpart is the hospital’s Harvard-educated Chief neurologist Dr. Michale Lemole.

Both doctors were off on Saturday January 8th when they got the calls about mass casualties that included a local a congresswoman. At the time Rhee was on a jog. Lemole was at a golf lesson with his son.

Both dropped everything and rushed to the trauma unit at U.M.C.

“We knew we had our work cut out for us,” said Dr. Lemole.

On the way the doctors heard rumors U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords had died, but they quickly got the story straight and got to work.

“I just knew we were going to be ok, I didn’t have the tiniest bit of hesitation in her situation,” said Dr. Rhee.
Since then both doctors have been going non-stop: not only operating on Giffords and the other victims' and overseeing their care, but accomodating the 24-hour news beast.

“As far as the media thing, yeah that's new, I can’t let that get to me personally,” said Dr. Lemole. He admits all of the news coverage will give him a higher profile, at least temporarily. “In the beginning, yes, but i'll wear sunglasses,” Dr. Lemole joked.

The hospital's role in this stage of Tucson’s recovery is drawing to a close, now that Giffords has been discharged and transferred to a facility in Houston, Texas. Both doctors say they’re ready to get out of the spotlight.

“How does this compare to some of the craziness I’ve done and seen in the past? it’s definitely memorable,” said Dr. Rhee. “There may be a little lull in my life, but it will give me the time to reflect back on what’s happened the last twelve days.”