Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Arrives in Houston to Begin Rehab

PHOTO U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., is lifted onto an airplane, Jan. 21, 2011. Giffords will begin the next phase of her recovery from a gunshot wound at TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has arrived in Houston, where she'll begin the next step of her recovery focusing on rehabilitation at a renowned brain injury facility at the Texas Medical Center.

Giffords landed at Houston's Hobby Airport shortly after 1 p.m. CST and immediately was transported to TIRR Memorial-Hermann Hospital via medical helicopter. She is now in the hospital's ICU, surrounded by her family.

Before departing for Houston this morning, Giffords left the Tucson hospital where she had been treated since suffering a gunshot to her head in an attack nearly two weeks ago. She was the last shooting victim to leave the hospital.

Cheered by crowds of well-wishers, Giffords was taken by ambulance to a nearby Air Force base where a specially equipped private plane was ready to carry her to Texas.

Giffords was accompanied to Houston by her astronaut husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, her doctors, and her mother, Gloria Giffords.

Along her roughly 10-mile route to the Air Force base, crowds of supporters stood on the curb, cheering and waving flags and signs as her motorcade passed by. Giffords' ambulance was escorted by a squadron of military veterans on motorcycles.

"We could hear applause in the ambulance with Gabby, and she responded very well to that, smiling and even tearing a little bit," said Dr. Randall Friese, one of the doctors who treated Giffords in Tucson. "It was very emotional and very special."

At a press conference in Houston late this afternoon, Giffords' medical team said today's trip went flawlessly and that while she has a long road ahead, she has great potential for rehabilitation.

Now that her Tucson team has handed over responsibility for Giffords' care, they said their goodbyes and will return to Arizona.

"I'm going to miss her a lot," said Tracy Culbert, the nurse who cared for Giffords over the last two weeks in Tucson and accompanied her on the plane today. "She's a very gentle person, and her personality is coming out with touches. ... I'm very lucky to know her."

People wave and applaud today as the ambulance carrying U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., leaves University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz.
Photo credit: Matt York/AP Photo

Kelly, Doctors Share Details of Giffords' Improbable Progress

Giffords' husband, Kelly, who lives in Houston, said Thursday that the congresswoman soon would be "back at work" and predicted she would be walking around in a couple of weeks.

"I'm extremely hopeful that Gabby will make a full recovery," he said. "She is a fighter like nobody else I know."

In another sign of progress, Giffords was taken outside Thursday for the first time since the attack to give her some sunlight. She stood up Wednesday for the first time with assistance and looked out of a hospital window.

Giffords already has been able to scroll through an iPad, one of the actions described by her doctors as "fantastic achievements forward."

Gabrielle Giffords Travels to Houston Rehabilitation Facility

Giffords suffered a gunshot wound to her head Jan. 8 when Jared Lee Loughner allegedly opened fire at the Democratic congresswoman's event outside a Safeway grocery store in Tucson.

The motive behind the attack that killed six people and wounded 14 might never be understood, Kelly said.

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