Gabrielle Giffords Able to Draw Breath on Her Own

January 11, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015

Portrait of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at a makeshift memorial outside the hospital in Tucson, Arizona where she is in critical condition on January 10, 2011. On Tuesday Doctors said that she is now able to draw breath on her own.   (Shaun Tandon/Getty Images )
Portrait of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at a makeshift memorial outside the hospital in Tucson, Arizona where she is in critical condition on January 10, 2011. On Tuesday Doctors said that she is now able to draw breath on her own. (Shaun Tandon/Getty Images )
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), 40, remained in critical condition, though she is now able to draw breath on her own, doctors said, on her fourth day at the University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz. on Jan. 11. 

Nevertheless, doctors left a breathing tube in her throat to protect her airway, Dr. Michael Lemole, Giffords’ neurosurgeon, told The Associated Press.

Jared Loughner allegedly killed six and injured 14 at a Safeway store in a suburb of Tucson, Ariz. during an assassination attempt om Giffords. Upon being shot in the head, Giffords underwent surgery Saturday to temporarily remove half of her skull.

Although swelling usually reaches its peak three days an injury, Lemole told the AP that a CT scan early Tuesday indicated no increase in swelling. However, he added in a Jan. 10 press release from the medical center that swelling can sometimes take three to five days to maximize, “but every day that goes by makes us slightly more optimistic.”

The medical center announced that Giffords is still following simple commands such as wiggling her toes and raising two fingers after her doctors initially described her ability to respond on Monday.

The center said that it has discharged two patients who were hospitalized at its Trauma Center. Aside from Giffords, five other patients are in serious condition.

Loughner, 22 years old, is currently held without bail as he awaits trial on five federal charges, including making an assassination attempt on a member of Congress and killing an employee of the federal government, according to the Department of Justice.

President Barack Obama, who with first lady Michelle Obama and White House staff gathered for a moment of silence on Monday morning honoring the victims of the shooting, plans to visit Arizona on Wednesday, Jan. 12, to attend a memorial service for those killed, including a 9-year-old girl, one of Giffords’ young aides, and a federal judge, according to Reuters.