Crowds cheer shot congresswoman


Gabrielle Giffords is loaded onto an airplane in Tucson, Arizona, as she is transferred to a rehabilitation center in Houston, Texas (AP)

Crowds have cheered Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as she left a Tucson hospital where she stunned doctors with her recovery two weeks after being shot in the head in an assassination bid.

The 40-year-old Democrat was moved in an ambulance to a plane bound for Houston, Texas, for rehabilitation.

A doctor with her said Ms Giffords heard them, smiled, and tears welled up in her eyes.

Children sat on their parents’ shoulders as the motorcade passed. Many waved and others carried signs wishing Ms Giffords, known as Gabby, well.

“It was very emotional and very special,” said Dr Randall Friese.

A gunman shot the congresswoman and 18 other people on January 8 as she met constituents outside a supermarket in Tucson. Six people died in the rampage, including Arizona’s top judge John Roll.

The suspected gunman, Jared Loughner, 22, is being held in federal custody. His motive is not known.

After her 930-mile trip, Ms Giffords was in an intensive care unit at Texas Medical Centre, where a new team of doctors planned to start her therapy immediately.

After several days of evaluation, she will be sent to the centre’s rehabilitation hospital, TIRR Memorial Hermann.

Ms Giffords had “great rehabilitation potential” said Dr Gerardo Francisco, chief medical officer of Memorial Hermann. “She will keep us busy, and we will keep her busy as well,” he said.

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