Daniel Hernandez said Thursday on CBS' "The Early Show" that the news delivered by President Barack Obama during a memorial speech was "pure elation" because nobody had been told.
"I don't think words can really describe how happy everyone is, not just myself but everyone who is a part of the new Giffords family was when we heard this news," he said.
The 20-year-old University of Arizona political science student sat next to Mr. Obama Wednesday during the service and appeared to tear up after the crowd broke into applause at Mr. Obama's tribute for him.
"When I did get a chance to meet with him he was saying that he was very proud. And he expressed how proud he was of not just me but everyone in Tucson and everyone in Arizona," he said.
Hernandez applied pressure to Giffords' wounds after she was shot Saturday.
He spoke before the president and rejected the label of hero, saying those involved in public service are true heroes.