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Scalise doctor hopes for ‘excellent recovery’ despite risk

  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center Director of Trauma Dr. Jack Sava speaks during a news conference in Washington, Friday, June 16, 2017, about the condition of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La. who was shot in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday, June 14, 2017, during a congressional baseball practice. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) Jose Luis Magana

  • FILE - In this March 8, 2017 file photo, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Scalise was shot Wednesday, June 14, 2017, at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va., congressional officials say. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) J. Scott Applewhite

  • 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) Alex Brandon

  • Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., left, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., applaud a message by President Donald Trump on the video board, 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) Alex Brandon

  • Capitol Hill Police officers stand watch outside the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 15, 2017, a day after a gunman opened fire on a lawmakers playing baseball and wounded House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La. at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Va. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite

  • A playground near the baseball field is cordoned off with police tape as the investigation continue at the scene in Alexandria, Va., Thursday, June 15, 2017, the day after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La. was shot during during a congressional baseball practice. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Jacquelyn Martin

  • President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 15, 2017, during an event on Apprenticeship and Workforce of Tomorrow initiatives. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) Susan Walsh

  • President Donald Trump speaks about the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scales of La. at a baseball practice, Thursday, June 15, 2017, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington before the start of an event on Apprenticeship and Workforce of Tomorrow initiatives. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) Susan Walsh

  • FBI Evidence Response Team members mark evidence at the scene of a multiple shooting in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday, June 14, 2017, involving House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La., and others during a congressional baseball practice. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) Cliff Owen

  • In this undated file photo, James Hodgkinson holds a sign during a protest outside of a United States Post Office in Belleville, Ill. Hodgkinson has been identified as the suspect in the Wednesday, June 14, 2017, Washington D.C. shooting. (Derik Holtmann/Belleville News-Democrat via AP) Derik Holtmann

  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center Director of Trauma Dr. Jack Sava leaves a news conference in Washington, Friday, June 16, 2017, about the condition of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La. who was shot in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday, June 14, 2017, during a congressional baseball practice. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) Jose Luis Magana



Associated Press
Friday, June 16, 2017

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 has received multiple blood transfusions, which can affect clotting, something doctors will monitor closely. Infection also is a risk, especially if the intestines were perforated.

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, but “we have no intention to try and remove all the bullet fragments at this point.”

Damage from a bullet occurs when it’s traveling. Once it has lodged in bone or muscle, “it’s not going to do anything. All you’re doing is stirring up more trouble” by making another incision larger than the fragment to try to get it out, explained Dr. Deborah Stein, trauma chief at the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center.

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.

Sava later told the Associated Press that Scalise’s care is on track for someone with such a severe injury but that he still faces many risks to recovery.

Sava said he told Scalise’s family that “I am not declaring victory until he’s playing ball in his back yard with his family.”

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.