Doctor: Giffords Breathing on Her Own
Another puts her chance of survival at 100%
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2011 12:08 PM CST
Dr. Peter Rhee, right, speaks about the condition of Gabrielle Giffords as Dr. G. Michael Lemole, Jr., looks on at University Medical Center, Jan. 9, 2011.   (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
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(Newser) – One of Gabrielle Giffords’ doctors has given a stunningly optimistic prognosis on her survival. “I’m going to get into a lot of trouble for this, but her prognosis for survival is 100%, as far as it being short term,” Peter Rhee, the chief of trauma at the University of Arizona Medical Center, told Britain's Channel 4. “Hopefully, she’ll live to be 95 years old.” At a news conference this afternoon, another surgeon said Giffords was breathing on her own, though still using a breathing tube to ward off infection. She also was following simple commands from doctors, reports MSNBC.

Rhee said he wasn’t sure how well Giffords would recover in the long term, but was optimistic that she would not wind up in a vegetative state. Brain swelling is normally the biggest danger at this stage in a patients’ recovery, but Rhee said surgeons had mitigated the danger by removing part of Giffords’ skull, allowing “the brain to swell as it wanted to.” A new CAT scan showed no major changes overnight. "I've seen people in this scenario make very little improvement and require constant care, and I've seen other people ... who have made remarkable recoveries—functional recoveries—and gone back to work," said chief of neurosurgery Dr. Michael Lemole.