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Giffords' husband says she smiled and gave him neck rub

TUCSON, Ariz. — The husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said Monday that his wife's condition has improved so much that she has been able to smile and give him a neck rub as he has kept a near-constant vigil at her hospital bedside.

The interactions with astronaut Mark Kelly are new signs of Giffords' progress in recovering from a gunshot wound to the head at a political event on Jan. 8. Giffords still cannot speak because of a tube in her throat that is helping her breathe.

"She's in the ICU. You know, gone through this traumatic injury. And she spent 10 minutes giving me a neck massage," Kelly said in an interview with Diane Sawyer to air today on ABC. "It's so typical of her that no matter how bad the situation might be for her, you know, she's looking out for other people."

Such encounters indicate higher levels of functioning, implying that "she's recognizing him and interacting, perhaps in an old familiar way with him," said Dr. Michael Lemole, chief of neurosurgery at the University of Arizona Medical Center.

Doctors upgraded Giffords' condition from critical to serious over the weekend.

The suspect in the shooting, Jared Loughner, 22, remained jailed in a federal lockup in Phoenix.

Dad tells of use

of girl's corneas

Donated corneas from Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year-old girl killed in the Arizona mass shooting, have saved the sight of two children, her father told the Associated Press on Monday. John Green said the Donor Network of Arizona told him and his wife about the successful transplants. He said he and his wife, Roxanna, didn't hesitate to allow doctors to use Christina's organs. "The fact that her organs were able to help people, that was an amazing thing to me," he said. The Donor Network of Arizona declined to comment on any donation, citing confidentiality.

Giffords' husband says she smiled and gave him neck rub 01/17/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:56pm]
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