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Gun victim will be at husband's space launch

A US Congresswoman has shown so much progress in her recovery from a bullet wound to the head that friends and family are making plans for her to attend the launch of her husband's space shuttle mission next month in Florida, a person close to the family said.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the family and doctors have not yet publicised the decision.

A news conference was scheduled for this morning at the Houston hospital where Gabrielle Giffords is undergoing rehabilitation.

Ms Giffords was shot in the head on January 8 at a political event outside a grocery store in an attack that killed six people and wounded 12 others.

The topic has also been of great speculation in the media and the general public amid hope that she would be able to beat the odds from her horrific injury and see her husband, Mark Kelly, rocket into space.



optimism

While doctors have said attending the launch is the goal, they have tempered the optimism with important medical considerations about the congresswoman's health.

Dr Gerard Francisco, the head of the team of doctors overseeing Ms Giffords' rehabilitation, said last month that a decision would be based on the progress of her recovery, how independent her movement is, and whether she could handle the commotion of travelling.

TIRR Memorial Hermann, the rehabilitation centre where she is being treated, and her doctors, declined to confirm whether she would attend the launch.

CJ Karamargin, a spokesman for Ms Giffords in Arizona, said getting her to Cape Canaveral was still the goal as she continues to recover in the time from now until the launch next month.

"The plan has always been for the congresswoman to attend. If that is possible, it will happen," he said.

Mr Kelly will be the commander of Endeavour when it launches in April, and his identical twin brother Scott is the current leader of the International Space Station crew.

Mark Kelly has been training for the mission and said earlier that he hoped his wife would be able to see him off.

Friends and family have described Ms Giffords as making steady progress, showing emotion on various occasions, singing American Pie with her stepdaughters as part of music therapy and pushing a shopping cart down the hospital corridors as she regains her walking abilities.

Rabbi David Lyon, senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Houston, visits Ms Giffords three times a week and said her speech has improved.

"There are words that are becoming clearer and opportunities to communicate are increasing," Mr Lyon said.

hnews@herald.ie