Congresswoman Gifford shows dramatic improvement

Seema Hakhu Kachru

Houston, Jan 13 (PTI) Five days after a bullet passedthrough her brain, US lawmaker Gabrielle Gifford is showingpositive signs of recovery, responding to family and friendsand moving her limbs.

Congresswoman Gifford was shot in the brain at closerange by a gunman while she was meeting her constituents inTuscon, Arizona. The gunman, who went on a shooting rampageafter firing at Giffords also killed six people, including afederal judge and a nine-year-old girl.

The bullet fired at her entered her brain from theback and passed from the front.

She is now moving both legs and arms, has opened hereyes and is responding to friends and family, doctorsattending to her said.

They said that with a crowd of friends and familyaround her bed, Giffords opened her left eye and tried to lookaround.

This means that Giffords is aware of her surroundings,her neurosurgeon, Dr Michael Lemole, said today.

"She likely opened her eye because of the unexpectedstimulation from so many people she knows," he said.

Reports said doctors have sat her up and dangled herfeet over the edge of the bed. They are backing off onmedications.

However, the three-term Democrat still has a breathingtube in her throat and can''t talk.

"She was holding my hand at the time," New Yorksenator Kirsten Gillibrand said in an interview.

"She was squeezing it, and even stroking it. She wasabsolute(ly able) to hear everything we were saying," the 44year-old senator from upstate said talking about theimprovement in her close friend''s condition.

The first news of this dramatic improvement inGiffords''s condition came from President Barack Obama himself.

"Her husband, Mark, is here, and he allows me to sharethis with you," the President said to a packed auditorium at amemorial service for the shooting victims at the University ofArizona Wednesday evening.

"Gabby opened her eyes for the first time," he said,as the audience broke out into raucous applause.

As Obama repeated the statement four times, theapplause turned into a standing ovation and Gifford''s husbandMark Kelly hugged First Lady Michelle Obama.

"So I can tell you, she knows we are here, she knowswe love her, and she knows that we are rooting for her throughwhat is undoubtedly going to be a difficult journey.

"We are there for her," President Obama said to arapturous audience.

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