Doctors say Giffords can attend husband's shuttle launch

HOUSTON Mon Apr 25, 2011 1:20pm EDT

Space shuttle Endeavour sits atop launch pad 39A after arriving from the Vehicle Assembly Building to prepare for Mission STS-134 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Florida March 11, 2011. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Space shuttle Endeavour sits atop launch pad 39A after arriving from the Vehicle Assembly Building to prepare for Mission STS-134 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Florida March 11, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Joe Skipper

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' doctors said on Monday that she is medically able to travel to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to attend her astronaut husband's space shuttle launch on Friday.

"She has made remarkable progress in her rehabilitation, and we saw no reason why she could not travel safely to Florida," Dr. Gerard Francisco, chief medical officer of TIRR Memorial Hermann, the hospital in Houston where Giffords has been undergoing rehabilitation, said in a statement.

Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, the commander of NASA's next-to-last scheduled shuttle mission, told CBS' Katie Couric that when Giffords learned she'd been given the green light to attend the launch, "I think she said 'awesome,' and she pumped her fist," according to excerpts released by CBS Evening News of an interview scheduled to be broadcast on Monday.

President Barack Obama is also expected to attend the shuttle launch.

The event would mark the first extended outing that Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, has made from a hospital environment since she was gunned down as she met with a group of constituents outside a Tucson, Arizona supermarket on January 8.

Six people were killed and 13 others wounded, Giffords among them, when a gunman opened fire on the congresswoman and bystanders. Jared Loughner, 22, a college dropout with a history of erratic behavior, is charged with the shooting.

After the shuttle launch, Giffords will return to Houston to continue her rehabilitation, according to the statement from the hospital.

"Medically, there is no reason she could not travel safely to Florida to participate in this incredible event with her husband," said Dr. Dong Kim, director of the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann. "This was not an ambulance transport. She is medically able and well enough to travel without additional risks."

The hospital did not release details about Giffords' travel to Florida, citing privacy concerns.

(Additional reporting by Corrie MacLaggan and Steve Gorman; Editing by Greg McCune)

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Comments (1)
Every time I hear about Mrs. Gifford’s recovery, I’m reminded of Sarah Palin’s atrocious behavior when the shooting occurred. Palin had included Gifford in her image gallery with crosshairs over Democratic politicians that were being targeted for removal during the midterm election. Now, I would never suggest that Palin’s photoshop led to this shooting, nor was it intended as a call to violence. It was, however, in bad taste, and after the shooting it would have been a good time for Palin to apologize for the imagery. Instead, she defended it. I just can’t understand how that can be seen as acceptable behavior in the face of a tragedy like this.

Apr 25, 2011 3:00pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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