Doctor of shot congressman hopes for ‘excellent recovery’ despite risk

Supporters of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., hold signs before the Congressional baseball game, Thursday, June 15, 2017, in Washington. The annual GOP-Democrats baseball game raises money for charity. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Supporters of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., hold signs before the Congressional baseball game, Thursday, June 15, 2017, in Washington. The annual GOP-Democrats baseball game raises money for charity. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressman Steve Scalise can hope to make an “excellent recovery,” his trauma surgeon said Friday, even though the lawmaker arrived at the hospital Wednesday at imminent risk of death after getting shot at a congressional baseball practice.

In his first public comments since the shooting, Dr. Jack Sava of MedStar Washington Hospital Center said it’s a “good possibility” that the Louisiana Republican will be able to return to work in his full capacity.

Sava declined to put a timeline on when that would happen or when Scalise, 51, would be able to leave the hospital. The doctor described how a bullet from an assault rifle entered Scalise’s hip and traversed his pelvis, shattering blood vessels, bones and internal organs along the way.

For now, Scalise remains in critical condition in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Scalise, the No. 3 House Republican, arrived at the hospital via helicopter in shock, with intense internal bleeding and “an imminent risk of death,” Sava said.

Since then, the lawmaker has undergone multiple surgeries and procedures to stop the bleeding and repair bone. He has been sedated, but has been brought out of sedation periodically and been able to recognize and communicate with his family, Sava said.

Scalise was wounded when a gunman opened fire at a GOP lawmaker baseball practice Wednesday morning. The fact that his injuries brought him close to death was not widely known initially.

Sava said Friday that there are hundreds of bullet fragments in Scalise’s body. Nonetheless, said Sava, “We fully expect him to be able to walk” and “hopefully run.”

Sava said that after being released from the hospital, Scalise “will require a period of healing and rehabilitation.”

“I feel a lot more confident and a lot more optimistic than I did two, three days ago,” Sava said. “I think that his risk of death right now is substantially lower than when he came in … he was as critical as you can be when he came in.”

Sava said Scalise would need to undergo an additional operation within the next 48 hours and more beyond that.

Several other people were also injured in Wednesday’s shooting before Scalise’s security detail and other police officers gunned down the assailant, who later died. The shooter was an Illinois man, James Hodgkinson, who had lashed out against President Donald Trump and Republicans over social media.

Speaking earlier Friday in Miami, Trump said Scalise “took a bullet for all of us” when he was shot.

The president’s meaning was not entirely clear, but Trump went on to say that “Because of him and the tremendous pain and suffering he’s now enduring — and he’s having a hard time, far worse than anybody thought — our country will perhaps become closer, more unified, so important.

“So we all owe Steve a big, big thank you,” Trump added.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., paid a visit to his injured colleague at the hospital Friday.

Scalise’s wife, Jennifer, issued a statement saying she was thankful for the “incredible amount of prayers and warm wishes” the family has received since the shooting.

Law enforcement officials proceeded Friday with their investigation of the attack at a suburban Virginia park, including examining Hodgkinson’s social media activities and his home in Belleville, Illinois. They released photos of guns similar to the handgun and rifle that were used in the attack, which officials have said were purchased legally.

Also suffering relatively minor injuries were two Capitol Police officers, David Bailey and Crystal Griner, and House GOP aide Zack Barth. Griner remains hospitalized at MedStar Hospital after getting shot in the ankle and Sava described her in good condition.

Bailey was spotted Friday back in the Capitol building, on crutches and out of uniform, accepting congratulations from fellow officers.

Lobbyist Matt Mika was shot multiple times and critically injured and remained hospitalized.

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