Doctor: Giffords May Be Showing 'Glimmers Of Recognition'


Tucson, Arizona -- Shot in the head less than a week ago, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords continues to make positive progress, her husband and doctors told CNN in exclusive interviews on Thursday.

The chief of neurosurgery at Tucson's University Medical Center said that Giffords' eye movements suggest the congresswoman is experiencing "glimmers of recognition."

"That tracking of the eyes tells you a whole lot more, that she's aware of her surroundings to some extent," Dr. Michael Lemole told Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent. "She's trying to engage that reality."

Giffords opened her eyes briefly for the first time Wednesday, with her husband, her parents and other members of Congress in the room, and continued to open them on Thursday.

"It was extraordinary," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, who was holding Giffords' hand when she opened her eyes on Wednesday. "It was a miracle to witness."

The incident occurred shortly after President Barack Obama had visited Giffords in her hospital room.

"I think she realized the president of the United States was there, but I'm not sure she knew why," Mark Kelly, Giffords' husband, told CNN Thursday in an exclusive interview.

Giffords' breathing tube could be removed as early as Friday, Kelly said.

Less than an hour after his Wednesday visit, given permission to disclose the information by Kelly, Obama electrified a memorial-service crowd and a national television audience by revealing one of the most promising pieces of news about Gifford's condition to emerge since an assassination attempt against her on Saturday.

Giffords was squeezing and stroking Gillibrand's hand, as doctors previously said she had been able to do.

Giffords "absolutely could hear everything we were saying," Gillibrand said.