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Rep. Giffords Has Surgery to Replace Breathing Tube
Date:1/15/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

SATURDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords underwent surgery Saturday morning to replace the breathing tube that had been in place since she was shot through the head a week ago in an attack in Tucson that killed six people.

The new tube was put in to protect her windpipe, according to the Associated Press. The breathing tube had been left in place as a precaution, although Giffords has been breathing on her own.

Doctors also inserted a feeding tube, the AP reported, adding that both procedures are common in people hospitalized with brain injuries.

On Friday, her doctors said Giffords was "continuing to make all the right moves in all the right directions" toward recovery. The Wall Street Journal reported that she has defied the odds and continued show improved function day by day.

"She is beginning to carry out more complex sequences [of movement] in response to our commands, and even spontaneously," said Dr. Michael Lemole Jr., neurosurgery chief at Tucson's University Medical Center. "We couldn't have hoped for any better improvement than we're seeing now."

Giffords' doctors say she has been opening her eyes more often since she first did so Wednesday. That was the day she also touched the wedding ring worn by her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, after being asked by him to do so.

On Thursday morning, doctors said Giffords was able to keep her eyes open for up to 15 minutes at a time and could move her legs and one of her hands, the New York Times reported.

"She is doing some fairly specific things with her left hand," Dr. Peter Rhee, the hospital's chief of trauma, said at the time. "She is yawning. She is starting to rub her eyes."

Lemole also noted that Giffords could also "move both of her legs to command," the newspaper reported.

Doctors want to ensure that Giffords d
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