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Shot US lawmaker Giffords leaves hospital

June 16, 2011

US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is pictured with her mother Gloria. - AFP (File Photo)

LOS ANGELES: US lawmaker Gabrielle Giffords was discharged from hospital Wednesday, five months after she was shot in the head at point-blank range in an attack that shocked the nation.

Days after the first photos of Giffords since the January attack were published, doctors said that her “cognitive abilities and physical strength have improved to the point where she no longer needs to remain a patient in the hospital.” The Arizona congresswoman will move from a hospital in Houston, Texas, to the nearby home of her space shuttle commander husband Mark Kelly, who praised his wife's “single-minded determination to get better.”

Congresswoman Giffords has shown clear, continuous improvement from the moment she arrived at TIRR five months ago,” said Gerard Francisco, the TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital's chief medical officer, in a statement.

“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,” he added.

Giffords will move into her husband's home in League City, Texas. “Gabby gives her all to everything she does and that's exactly what she's been doing at TIRR since January 26,” said Kelly.

“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,” he added.

Six people, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, were killed and 12 others wounded in the January 8 shooting spree, which stunned the nation and made headlines around the world.

In March, the alleged shooter, Jared Loughner, was declared mentally unfit to stand trial. Experts found the 22-year-old to be schizophrenic and unable to help in his own defense or understand court proceedings.

Photos of a smiling Giffords - who is battling to regain movement on the right side of her body after a bullet tore through the left side of her brain in the shooting rampage - were posted on her Facebook page last weekend.

With flecks of gray visible in her closely-cropped dark hair and wearing wire-rimmed glasses, Giffords smiles broadly in one of the two pictures, dated May 17. A second photo shows her seated next to her mother, Gloria Giffords.

Pictures, released by Giffords's congressional campaign, were taken the day before the Arizona representative underwent surgery to replace part of her skull. No pictures of her post-surgery have been released.

Her spokeswoman CJ Karamargin said Giffords's photos reflected her joy at watching the lift-off of the space shuttle Endeavour on its final flight last month, which was captained by her astronaut husband.

Giffords' official congressional portrait, taken before the shooting, shows the legislator smiling with chin-length blonde-streaked hair standing before the pillars of the US Congress building.

Republican US House Speaker John Boehner welcomed the news of Giffords' Discharge. “Wonderful news about Rep Giffords. Wish her & her family all the best as she continues her miraculous recovery,” he said on micro-blogging service Twitter.