UMC surgeon honored Monday, happy at Giffords' progress

Posted: Updated:

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Valentines day is a big day around the country for hospitals.

A day dedicated to human kindness and the act of taking care of each other touched those at UMC Monday.

Hands around the U of A medical school Monday in a sign of solidarity.

"Being the sort of inspiring institution for this we wanted to do something that was visual as well as meaningful," said Stephanie Hartz.

It's the national day of solidarity for compassionate patient care.  And medical schools all across the country took a time out to hold hands and recognize the surgeon who was the first to treat Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

"I don't view this as me being honored but my actions inspiring people to recognize the importance of humanism and compassionate care," said Dr. Randall Friese.

Another surgeon forever tied to that day is Dr. Peter Rhee.  He came out Monday to support his colleague.

"It's an honor for us to get give an award like this to a fellow surgeons," said Dr. Peter Rhee.

Both doctors have heard the news about Gabrielle Giffords speaking and mouthing the words to songs.  And both aren't surprised by the progress.

"She was doing so well here I'm actually expecting to hear these good things coming from Houston," said Friese.

"That was one thing we weren't sure if she was going to recover that portion of it, I think I was very optimistic and hopeful that she would," said Dr. Rhee.

They both know the process will move slowly, but when hearing such good things, it's hard not to get excited.

"When someones recovery starts so quickly and moves ahead at such a fast pace for long term functional outcome being the best it can be," said Friese.

Gabrielle Giffords even spoke to her brother-in-law in space telling the astronaut, "I'm fine," when asked how she was doing.