U.S. Representative Steve Scalise, the No. 3 House Republican, has shown improvement over the last 36 hours after being shot by a gunman who opened fire on Republican lawmakers at a baseball practice earlier in the week, his lead surgeon said on Friday.
"The congressman's status remains critical," Dr. Jack Sava, the director of trauma at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center, told reporters. "An excellent recovery is a good possibility."
Scalise sustained injuries to internal organs, broken bones and severe bleeding after being shot in his left hip on Wednesday morning on a baseball field in a Washington suburb.
Scalise had been at "imminent risk of death" when he was first brought into the hospital on Wednesday, and he received many units of transfused blood, the doctor said. The congressman's risk of death was now substantially lower, because doctors have controlled the bleeding, and his vital signs have stabilized.
But Scalise, who has had two surgeries, will need additional operations and will be in the hospital for "a considerable period of time, presumably weeks," Sava said. Because the bullet shattered, there may be hundreds of fragments in Scalise's body and doctors do not intend to try to remove them all, Sava said. He declined to describe specific internal injuries.
Once recovered, Scalise will be able to walk and hopefully run, the doctor said. He said doctors have turned down Scalise's sedation levels enough that the lawmaker has been able to respond to family members visiting him in the hospital.
The 51-year-old Scalise, as well as a police officer, a congressional aide and a lobbyist, were wounded on Wednesday when a man identified as James Hodgkinson, 66, from the St. Louis suburb of Belleville, Illinois, opened fire on the lawmakers who were practicing for an annual charity baseball game between Republicans and Democrats. Hodgkinson died after being shot by police.
Members of Congress took the field at Washington's Nationals Park on Thursday night for the game, many wearing hats to honor Scalise.