Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords To Undergo Skull Surgery Thursday

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will undergo surgery on Thursday to replace a piece of her skull removed by doctors after she was shot in January.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., takes part in a reenactment of her swearing-in, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 5, 2011.Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will undergo surgery on Thursday to replace a piece of her skull removed by doctors after she was shot in January.

The surgery was confirmed to The Associated Press by a person familiar with Giffords' care. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the information has not officially been released.

Doctors had to remove the portion of Giffords' skull due to brain swelling caused by the gunshot.

Since then, she has worn a helmet while undergoing intensive rehabilitation in Houston to re-learn how to walk and talk.

The surgery comes just days after Giffords returned from Florida where she watched her astronaut husband rocket into space.

Giffords rehab team knew that following the Endeavor launch, her next hurdle would be the delicate surgery to repair her skull and she had planned to return to the Houston hospital where she's been undergoing rehabilitation since shortly after the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson in which she was gravely wounded.

Giffords' doctors have said they've decided to use a fabricated segment of bone as opposed to the original, removed skull section to repair the damage to her head, he chief of staff Pia Carusone told CBS News' Katie Couric.

"They feel it is safer, cleaner and its actually a better puzzle piece, sort of fitting in there if you can imagine that," Carusone said.

Two weeks ago, Cmdr. Kelly rejected reports that his wife's progress had been overstated.

"I was told very early on in this process, on January 8th, that she is gonna get worse," Kelly said at the time. "She's gonna get worse in the next week, you know, and then she'll get worse at some point in the next two weeks. And she never did. She gets better, you know, all the time, day after day."

CBS