Giffords's husband 'extremely hopeful' of recovery

The husband of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot this month while hosting a political event, is confident his wife will make a full recovery.

The husband of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot this month while hosting a political event, says he is "extremely hopeful" that his wife will make a full recovery.

Mark Kelly, an astronaut and husband of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, gives an update on her progress as she recovers from being shot in the head. ((Susan Montoya Bryan/Associated Press))

Mark Kelly told reporters at University Medical Center in Tucson on Thursday that his wife is a fighter and he believes she'll be back at work soon.

"I know one of the first things Gabby's going to want to do as soon as she's able to is start writing thank-you notes, and I've already reminded her of that," he said.

Giffords, 40, a Democrat in the House of Representatives, was shot in the head Jan. 8 while at a meet-and-greet outside a grocery store in Tucson. Six people were killed and 13 wounded in the attack.

The congresswoman reached a milestone in her recovery Wednesday when she stood, with help, for the first time.

The outpouring of grief and support from the people of Tucson has shown the world what the community is truly about, her husband said. 
Mark Kelly, seen with his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, said she will want to write thank-you notes as soon as she can. ((Reuters))

Kelly, a NASA astronaut, said he has chosen the TIRR Memorial Hermann Institute in Houston, where he lives and works, for her rehab because it is a world-class facility that will allow him to stay by her side as much as possible. 

"I'm extremely hopeful that Gabrielle is going to make a full recovery," Kelly said.

"She's scrolling through an iPad," said Dr. Michael Lemole, chief of neurology, who heads her care team in Tucson. "These are all fantastic advancements forward. They do indicate higher cognitive function."

The medical team is unsure about whether she is mouthing words, and they do not know how much Giffords can see.

It is possible, given the bullet's path, that the congresswoman's speech was affected. Doctors can say nothing definitive and warn that there's a long road ahead to recovery.

Doctors hope to transfer Giffords to Houston on Friday to begin extensive therapy, both cognitive and physical.

"She's going to have to relearn how to think, plan, organize," said Dr. Reid Thompson, neurosurgery chief at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Thompson was not involved in Giffords' care and based his comments on diagrams and reports of her injury that have been made public.

With files from The Associated Press