By Lindsey McPherson and Niels Lesniewski
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise remains in critical condition in the intensive care unit at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Dr. Jack Sava, the hospital’s director of trauma, said Friday.
“We are encouraged by improvement in his condition over the last 36 hours,” Sava said during a press conference at the hospital. “We have controlled the internal bleeding and his vital signs have stabilized. He will require additional operations to manage abdominal injuries and other bone injuries.”
Scalise was shot Wednesday morning when a gunman opened fire at Republicans’ congressional baseball practice in Alexandria. He was one of five people injured from gunshots during the shooting but the only congressman who was hit. Scalise’s Capitol Police detail, two officers of whom were among the injured, has been credited with saving the lives of many present.
“I feel a lot more confident and a lot more optimistic than I did two or three days ago,” Sava said, suggesting that the Louisana Republican had faced an imminent risk of death when he arrived by helicopter at the facility after Wednesday’s shooting.
“The major initial risk to life is because of the hemorrhage,” which doctors now have under control, Sava said.
“His risk of death is substantially lower than when he came in,” he added.
Sava said that multiple teams have worked on the congressman, with a combination of surgeries and procedures. He said it is currently difficult to predict how long Scalise will need to remain in the hospital but they should have a better idea of that in the coming days.
“After he leaves the hospital he will require a period of healing and stabilization,” he said.
The bullet that hit Scalise fragmented into hundreds of pieces, which is what caused Scalise’s broken leg, Sava said.
“We have no intention to remove all bullet fragments at this point,” he said, noting that is common because finding and removing that many fragments is more risky than leaving them inside the body.
Scalise’s next operation will likely take place in 48 hours, Sava said.
Scalise should be able to walk again, Sava said. “Our orthopedic trauma surgeons are very good and they can work miracles,” he said.
“An excellent recovery is a good possibility,” Sava added.
Sava said that he did not entirely understand reports that the shot in the hip with a high-powered rifle was not particularly serious.
“Most of us would not even think to consider that a benign wound,” Sava said.
About 13 hours after the shooting on Wednesday, the hospital announced that Scalise had been shot in his left hip by a rifle and that “the bullet traveled across his pelvis, fracturing bones, injuring internal organs, and causing severe bleeding,” the hospital said in a statement Wednesday.
When Scalise arrived at Washington Hospital Center, a Level I Trauma Center, on Wednesday he underwent immediate surgery,receiving multiple units of blood transfusion, according to the hospital. He also received an additional procedure that day to stop bleeding.
On Thursday evening the hospital announced that Scalise had another surgery related to his internal injuries and a broken bone in his leg. The hospital said Thursday that Scalise had improved in the past 24 hours but that his condition remained critical and he would need additional operations that would keep him in the hospital “for some time.”
At the press conference Friday, Scalise’s chief of staff Brett Horton read a statement from Scalise’s wife Jennifer thanking everyone for their prayers and well wishes and thanking the Capitol Police officers who helped save lives at the scene.
“Our family asks that you continue to pray for Steve … and all of those hurt in this attack,” Jennifer Scalise said in the statement.
Sava also said Capitol Police Officer Crystal Griner, who was also transported to the MedStar facility is now, “in good condition and she’s in good spirits.”
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