Giffords' gun control work could aid her recovery

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Giffords' gun control work could aid her recovery

CREATED Jan 30, 2013

Reporter: Craig Smith

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - As they spoke for better gun control before the Senate Judiciary Committee,  Former Congresswoman and Tucson Mass Shooting victim Gabrielle Giffords, joined with her husband retired astronaut Mark Kelly to send a clear message that the time for gun control is now -- they've had enough.
Giffords' statement to Congress wasn't long but it shows how far she's come.

She said, in part: "Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying."
Nine On Your Side spoke with Giffords principal trauma surgeon about her recovery and how her new mission towards gun control may help her recover as victim of gun violence.
Gabrielle Giffords retired from Congress to rebuild the abilities a gunman stole from her January 8th, two years ago.
Now she's active again, urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass better gun controls before more children die.

She told the Senate Judiciary Committee: "It will be hard but the time is now.  You must act.  Be bold.  Be courageous.  Americans are counting on you. Thank you."
Giffords has counted on her own courage and drive to recover.  Two years ago, she was on the table in this room at UAMC as Dr. Peter Rhee and his trauma team rushed to save her life.

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Dr. Rhee: "Now that this mission is something she's taken on, is that an extra boost to her recovery?"

Dr. Rhee: "I'm sure the internal motive is a key during the rehabilitation phase.  A lot of people at this stage, when all the hoopla goes away, it's hard, it's really hard to work when she's by herself and she has to get motivated to train her mind so it works well."
Dr. Rhee says thinks she could go back into politics.

"If she wanted to get back into politics now, she has the facilities to do so." 

Craig Smith asked: "As a regular office holder you think?"

Dr. Rhee: "Oh yes, but in politics how she portrays to the media and the cameras and so on is important so I'm sure that has a big influence in all of this."
And while Giffords knows how it is to be a victim of gun violence, Dr. Rhee knows a surgeon's frustration when bullets bring in victim after victim.

"I'm glad that in some sense the population is paying attention to what's going on.  I think we were numb to it for a period of time and had gotten used to a certain amount of it. But it's not really necessary.  Not necessary at all."

Dr. Rhee says when gunshot victims do end up in U-A-M-C their chance of survival is getting better and better.  He says for head wounds, survival rates have gone from 10 percent to 43 percent.