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Gabrielle Giffords to undergo skull surgery to replace bone that was removed

May 17, 2011|By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog
  • Rep. Gabrielle Giffords talks to constituents in January days before she was shot.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords talks to constituents in January days before she… (Sara Hummel-Rajca/Giffords…)

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) , shot in the head in a Tucson parking lot in January, will undergo surgery Wednesday to replace the segment of her skull that was removed by surgeons at University Medical Center in Tucson.

Surgeons there cut out a large segment of the skull to allow room for swelling of the brain, a common aftermath of trauma to the head. The bone was frozen to keep it viable until it could be reattached to her skull. In the interim, Giffords has been wearing a protective helmet to prevent injuries to her brain from falls during her rehabilitation at Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center in Houston. There, she has been relearning how to walk and talk. She wore the helmet when she flew to Florida for the Monday launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, commanded by her husband, astronaut Mark E. Kelly.

Word on the surgery reportedly came from a family friend. The hospital has released no official information. Experts said the surgery should be relatively quick and uneventful.

Giffords was shot outside a Safeway store during an event she held to meet with constituents. Jared Lee Loughner has pleaded not guilty to charges in the attack and is in custody. Six people were killed and 13 wounded, including Giffords.  

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