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Surgeon: Scalise was on the brink of death, condition has improved ‘subtantially’

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise

WASHINGTON — The director of trauma for MedStar Washington Hospital said Rep. Steve Scalise’s condition when he arrived at the hospital was “as critical as it could be.”

Dr. Jack Sava gave an update on Scalise’s condition Friday afternoon and said Scalise was on the brink of death when he got to the hospital by helicopter Wednesday morning. His condition has improved after undergoing two surgeries and an additional procedure to control bleeding.

Sava said his risk of death is “substantially lower” than it was on Wednesday.

Scalise, a Metairie Republican and the House Majority Whip, was shot in the hip with a rifle. The bullet traveled toward his other hip, causing serious damage to bones, internal organs and blood vessels. Scalise also had to have an operation to repair a bone in his foot.

Five others were injured in the attack. The gunman, 66-year-old James Hodgkinson, was shot multiple times and later died.

Scalise was awake at the scene of the shooting — a baseball field in Virginia where congressmen were practicing for the Congressional Baseball Game — but by the time he arrived at the hospital he was in shock.

Hemorrhaging is still the biggest concern for Scalise’s medical team, but Sava said he fully expects Scalise will be able to walk again and “an excellent recovery is a good possibility.”

The congressman will require more surgeries and will be in the hospital for “presumably weeks,” Sava said. Scalise is still sedated, but he has been awake enough to see and recognize that his family is there with him.

Sava said he was surprised by initial media reports that said Scalise was in stable condition.

“I would encourage you to talk to military medical colleagues about what it’s like to be shot with a high-velocity rifle in the hip region,” Sava said.

Scalise’s chief of staff, Brett Horton, read a statement from Scalise’s wife Jennifer. Here’s the statement in full:

On behalf of Steve and our children I want to thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for the incredible amount of prayers and warm wishes that we’ve received since Wednesday’s events. We are especially appreciative of the strong outpouring of love and support from our neighbors, friends, from across Louisiana and across the country, as well as President Trump, Vice President Pence, and all of Steve’s colleagues who have reached out during this challenging time. Most importantly, we are forever grateful for the heroism of special agents Crystal Griner and David Bailey, who saved the lives of everyone at the baseball field that morning, including Steve’s. Crystal and David have been family to us for years, and we ask that you continue to pray for their full recovery. I would also like to personally thank all of the first responders who bravely assisted at the scene, as well as the entire staff of MedStar Washington Hospital Center for their continued excellent care. Our family asks that you continue to pray for Steve, Matt Micah, Zach Barth, and all those hurt in this attack, and keep them in your thoughts and prayers during their recovery.

Watch the update in full below: