Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, left, smiles with her mother, Gloria, in photo… (P.K. Weis / SouthwestPhotoBank )
Five months after falling victim to an assassin's bullet, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was discharged from the Houston hospital where she has been rehabilitating.
Calling her release a "major milestone," the hospital, TIRR Memorial Hermann, said Giffords would continue to receive outpatient care at a home outside of Houston owned by her husband, Mark E. Kelly.
In a statement, her doctors said that the Arizona Democrat had improved to the point where she no longer needed to be a patient.
“Congresswoman Giffords has shown clear, continuous improvement from the moment she arrived at TIRR five months ago,” said Gerard Francisco, the hospital’s chief medical officer. “We are very excited that she has reached the next phase of her rehabilitation and can begin outpatient treatment. We have no doubt that she will continue to make significant strides in her recovery.”
Kelly, an astronaut who recently completed a mission aboard the space shuttle Endeavour, praised the care that Giffords received.
“Gabby gives her all to everything she does and that’s exactly what she’s been doing at TIRR since Jan. 26,” he said. “The remarkable progress she has made since then is a testament to both her single-minded determination to get better and the team of medical professionals overseeing her care.”
The health of Giffords, who was shot in the head Jan. 8 while at a public event in Tucson, has been the subject of unceasing speculation in political circles. Last week, her chief of staff gave an interview to the Arizona Republic in which she detailed Giffords’ ongoing struggle to communicate, but suggested that her cognitive functions are strong.
Over the weekend, the first pictures of Giffords since the shooting were posted to her Facebook account. They showed a smiling, engaged woman whose hair had begun to grow back following surgery on her brain and skull.
The alleged gunman in the Tucson rampage that killed six and wounded a dozen others, Jared Lee Loughner, was recently declared unfit for trial by a federal judge.