Five months after she was shot through the head during a constituent meet-and-greet event in Tucson, Arizona, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' staff has posted photographs of the Congresswoman on Facebook. The pictures, which were taken last month at the TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital, the day before she received a cranioplasty, feature a smiling Giffords. Her communications director C.J. Karamargin explained to the Arizona Republic the pictures were released to satisfy "curiosity about her appearance. We want to avoid a paparazzi situation."
The Arizona Republic, which says that there were rumors TMZ was offering $250,000 for a photograph of Giffords, reports, "Her face shows almost no visible vestige of the bullet, which pierced her forehead, traveled through the left side of her brain, and exited her head. Her left eye appears slightly smaller than her right eye, likely because a piece of Giffords' skull was still missing when this photo was taken, her staff explained. The cranioplasty has since repaired her skull. In the photo, her brown hair has grown since it was shaved by Tucson doctors, and it covers surgical scars on her scalp. There is a scar at her throat left by a tracheotomy. Around her neck, she wears her husband's wedding ring on a chain." As Karamargin says, "It is remarkable to think that this is a woman who was shot at point blank range in the head less than six months ago."
The photographer, P.K. Weis of SouthwestPhotoBank.com, wrote:
Any photographer in the country would have loved the opportunity to take these pictures and I was delighted to be asked. I’ve known Gabby for more than a decade and her staff asked me to do it because she wanted someone who was not a stranger - someone she would be comfortable around. The photos were taken in her room and in an outside area of the hospital.
In addition to the congresswoman, her mother, one of her staff members and a close friend were there. Doctors and nurses also came in and out.
It was very inspiring to see how much she had recovered in 4½ months. I was excited to see her and to see her smile. She was glad to see me, was in a good mood, smiling and laughing and seemed to enjoy the experience. I certainly did, too.
Shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner, accused of shooting Giffords as well as killing six people and wounding 13 others in the January 8 incident, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was found mentally unfit to assist his lawyers or understand his charges.