Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is 'holding her own'

Tucson, Arizona (CNN) -- U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords remained in critical condition Tuesday after she was shot in the head on Saturday at the rampage at her meet-and-greet event, but she is breathing on her own and doctors have backed off on some sedation.

"I'm happy to say she's holding her own," said Dr. Michael Lemole Jr., chief of neurosurgery at University Medical Center. "Her status is the same as it was yesterday. She's still following simple commands."

Lemole said she's generating her own breaths.

"The only reason we keep that breathing tube in is to protect her airway so that she doesn't have complications like pneumonia," he told reporters.

Lemole said he's encouraged by the fact that she's "done so well" with an injury where survival and recovery are "abysmal."

"This is where we constantly say it's week to week, month to month. I know everyone wants new results every day but as long as we don't backslide and as long as she holds her own, that's good. That keeps us hopeful."

"We have to play this according to her timeline, not ours," he said.

Lemole said "she has no right to look this good and she does."

"We're hopeful, but I do want to underscore the seriousness of this injury and the fact that we all have to be extremely patient."

Six of the victims in the Saturday shooting remain at University Medical Center, Chief of Emergency Medicine Peter Rhee said. Along with Giffords, three people are in serious condition and two are in fair condition.

Jared Lee Loughner, 22, who authorities say shot up a gathering held by Giffords outside a supermarket, has been anecdotally regarded as very troubled and perhaps mentally unbalanced because of his ramblings spotted on the internet and the way he has been described by acquaintances.

The shooting has sparked horror across the United States and generated much partisan talk about vitriolic political discourse in American life and what Loughner's motivations are.

U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins has ruled that all magistrate and district judges in the District of Arizona's Tucson Division must recuse themselves.

The ruling, dated Monday, cited the need to "avoid the appearance of impropriety, and because a judge has a duty to disqualify him or herself if his or her impartiality could be reasonably questioned, whethLoughner parener or not such impartiality exists."

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