Update on the condition of shooting victims from the University Medical Center in Tucson, AZ:
Peter Rhee, Medical Director, University Medical Center: 11 year old girl came in dead. Only one who is still in critical condition is Giffords. Three have been downgraded to “serious.” One has been released.
When Giffords came in, she was able to communicate but not verbally. After surgery, over course of the evening, able to follow simple commands. Don’t know what deficits will be in the future. Very happy with hospital course, blood transfusions have worked well.
Cannot open her eyes, on a ventilator. Can respond to “simple commands” like squeeze fingers, etc. Wound: traveled the entire length of the brain on the left side. As time goes on cavitation will affect brain cells, they’ll just have to see.
Bullet traveled left side of the brain from the front to the back. Left side controls speech, simple commands, so the fact that she can respond to them is good sign.
Not uncommon to be in the ICU after an injury like this for a week, in hospital for weeks, and recovery can take from weeks to months.
“Overall, this is about as good as it’s going to get.” Chances of living from an injury like this is small, the fact that she did is a very good sign. Things could have happened in the trajectory of the bullet that made it much much worse, per the CAT scan.
They took her skull off and kept it off. Right now she doesn’t have a skull. It’s retained and they can put it back in later, but because there is brain swelling and that is the biggest threat, they keep it off for now.
They believe the bullet entered in the back and came out the front. She is in a medically induced coma. She’s not suffering from being operated on and being on a ventilator.
People who needed surgery are all recovering well.
Giffords could not speak upon arrival.
Sometimes they have to take drills to relieve the pressure in the skull, but this time the fractures made access possible for them. They took the skull off, put a temporary layer over the brain, they closed it. It may take months before they replace her skull.