Dr Oz did a segment called “Tragedy in Tucson: A Dr Oz Special Report.” I am surprised at the topic because Doctor Oz’s shows are usually taped well in advance – clearly, this show was taped in the last 2-3 days since Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ tragic shooting last Saturday. Her situation is still fragile and 6 other people are dead following this horrific shooting.
Dr Oz: Gabrielle Giffords Shooting in Tucson Arizona
Dr Oz said that Gabrielle Gifford was shot at the Safeway in her town, and that the first call to 911 was placed at 10:11 am. 20 people were shot, 6 died, and 14 were wounded, including Congresswoman Giffords. Hernandez, an intern on Giffords’ staff for only 5 days, called for help and held her up to keep the Congresswoman from choking on her own blood. 10 minutes later, an ambulance came and at 10:41 am Giffords was on her way to Tucson’s University Medical Center. Giffords had a CT Scan and, 28 minutes after arriving at the hospital, she was rushed into surgery to control the bleeding and remove pressure from her brain. 2 hours later, and just 4 hours after she was shot in the head, she was out of surgery and in a medical coma. Swelling is one of the greatest risks given her situation, but the doctors are cautiously optimistic and the swelling risk declines 3 days after this type of injury.
Dr Oz & Dr Michael LeMole – Dr Oz’s Brother-In-Law
Dr Oz has a personal family connection to the incident because Dr Michael LeMole, one of Congresswoman Giffords’ neurosurgeons, is the brother of Dr Oz’s wife Lisa. Dr LeMole said that Giffords is holding her own and following simple commands, which is the best that we could hope for and expect at this point. Of course, her family wants to see greater progress, but just the fact that she is holding her own is very positive news at this point. Dr Oz asked Dr LeMole what he did during the surgery and they discussed some of these details. Dr LeMole said that they were particularly worried about bleeding, because the bullet could have severed major arteries or a major vein, but thank goodness that was not the case. The secondary concern was over swelling, which is hard to control and that is why they removed the top portion of Giffords’ skull.
Dr Oz asked what they do about debris and pieces of bone or bullet that get mixed into the brain. Dr LeMole said that over the past few decades physicians have changed a lot about how things are handled during neurosurgery. Previously they would worry about removing every piece of bone and debris, but now they have learned not to go after every piece because you can end up doing more damage to the brain tissue that way. Dr Oz showed on a model exactly what happened. The bullet hit Gifford in the back of her head and went through the parts of the brain responsible for vision, speech, sensory functions, motor skills, and decision making. The bullet then exited her head right over her left eye.
Dr Oz: Medically Induced Coma
Dr Oz asked Dr LeMole to explain a Medically Induced Coma and, basically it is a coma that doctors induce as part of an effort to keep a critically injured patient sedated and asleep so that she can rest between examinations. When she is not in a coma, Congresswoman Giffords is able to respond to simple commands and even grab at her breathing tube, which Dr LeMole said is quite a miracle. The fact that she can hear someone’s voice means that the part of her brain that decodes words is functioning and is able pass the message on to the part of the brain that tells her to act something out, which she also seems able to do. All parts of the brain have to work and work together for this to happen.
Dr Michael LeMole said that Giffords’ family is very tough and resilient. Her husband is an astronaut and has experienced extreme stress before, but all of them are great troopers. Dr Oz asked what will happen with Congresswoman Giffords over the next 48 hours. Dr LeMole said that if he could make a wish, they would be able to take the breathing tube out in a couple of days. However, Giffords’ path to recovery is hard to predict and the physicians will have to take their time while observing her closely to make sure that she does not take any turns for the worse.