Kelly says wife doing well after surgery

CBS News

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL--Checking on his injured wife from space, shuttle commander Mark Kelly said Thursday Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords came through surgery Wednesday, to replace a piece of her skull, in good condition and that she's recovering comfortably in Houston.

Shuttle commander Mark Kelly discussed Endeavour's mission and his wife's recovery from a gunshot wound with reporters Thursday. He was joined for this interview by station astronaut Catherine Coleman. (Credit: NASA TV)
"I had a chance at the end of the day to call her mom, her chief of staff and my brother periodically as the surgery was going on and she's doing really well," Kelly told an interviewer with PBS NewsHour early Thursday. "Everything went as planned, her neurosurgeons are very happy, she's recuperating. She's actually getting back to therapy today. So it went really, really well."

Giffords was shot in the head at point blank range during an assassination attempt in January and her recovery and rehabilitation, along with Kelly's decision to fly aboard Endeavour as planned, has generated intense media interest.

Giffords flew to Florida for Kelly's original April 29 launch attempt and returned for Endeavour's blastoff Monday on a 16-day space station assembly mission.

"Obviously, this has been a long road since Jan. 8 for us," Kelly said. "Her having surgery yesterday was not planned all along, but she was ready and the doctors wanted to do it then and it didn't make sense to wait a couple of weeks until I got back. So I've been thinking a little bit about that, but it's pretty common surgery and it went really well."

He said Giffords was "really excited to be at the launch, really enjoyed it a lot. She was there with not only my kids, but all the children and spouses of the rest of the crew and they really had a great time despite the fact that we went through some clouds there in about 20 seconds" and disappeared from view.

While her recovery from a devastating wound has been remarkable, Kelly said he did not know when Giffords might be released from the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research Memorial Hermann -- TIRR -- in Houston.

"Rehab is a long process from a traumatic brain injury and it's not even measured in weeks, it's normally months," he told The Associated Press. "At some point, she'll become an out patient there at TIRR. We don't know exactly when that is going to be, but I'm looking forward to that. She's got some recovery here from the procedure she had yesterday then she's going to be back in full-time rehab."

Kelly and his crewmates are scheduled to land back at the Kennedy Space Center on June 1.