A physician treating U.S. Representative Steve Scalise, who was seriously wounded in an attack on Republican lawmakers at a baseball field near Washington, said Friday that his vital signs were stable but that he was still in critical condition.
Dr. Jack Sava, director of trauma at Medstar Washington Hospital, told reporters that multiple surgeries appeared to have brought multiple internal hemorrhages under control. The doctor said Scalise was in shock and near death because of extensive blood loss when he arrived at the hospital by helicopter Wednesday.
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Scalise received numerous blood transfusions as surgeons worked to repair his torn blood vessels and other wounds, Sava said, adding: "We are encouraged by improvement in his condition over the last 36 hours."
Sava said Scalise's vital signs, including blood pressure, pulse and breathing, had stabilized since he was shot, but he emphasized that the 51-year-old congressman would require further surgery. The doctor declined to discuss details of damage to Scalise's internal organs and said the medical team would make no effort to remove "possibly hundreds" of bullet fragments in the lawmaker's abdomen.
Once he has recovered, Sava said, Scalise will require rehabilitation. The trauma director said it was too soon to estimate how long hospitalization would be necessary.
Elected in 2008
Scalise was elected to the House of Representatives in 2008 from Louisiana. He is the House majority whip, the third-ranking member of the leadership team of the Republican Party majority that controls that chamber of the U.S. Congress. In American politics, a whip is responsible for organizing rank-and-file members' support for party policies, canvassing individual members about their voting plans and supplying encouragement where necessary.
Many members of the House and Senate from both major political parties have spoken warmly about Scalise's gregarious nature this week. And leading figures throughout the American political spectrum, from President Donald Trump on down to local leaders, have taken note of the shooting as a cautionary tale for the nation not to let legitimate differences of opinion escalate to violence and bloodshed.
Scalise suffered the most serious wounds among several people hit by bullets Wednesday. He was practicing for an annual congressional baseball game, working out with his Republican colleagues in a park across the Potomac River from the U.S. Capitol, when a gunman armed with a semiautomatic rifle opened fire.
The attacker, who had traveled to Washington several months ago from the Midwestern state of Illinois, was fatally wounded by members of the Capitol Police who were in a security detail protecting Scalise. The dead man's social media posts indicated he'd violently opposed President Donald Trump and the policies of his Republican Party.
Sava said Scalise "sustained a single rifle wound that entered into the area of the left hip. It traveled directly across toward the other hip, in what we call a transpelvic gunshot wound. The round fragmented and did substantial damage to bones, internal organs and blood vessels."
Plea for unity
Earlier Friday, Trump said during an event in Miami that Scalise "took a bullet for all of us" in the surprise attack in Alexandria, Virginia.
Because of Scalise, Trump said, "and the tremendous pain and suffering he's now enduring — and he's having a hard time, far worse than anybody thought — our country will perhaps become closer, more unified. [That's] so important!"
The House of Representatives resumed normal business Thursday after sharply curtailing its schedule following the shootings. And Thursday evening, the congressional baseball game went on as scheduled.
The contest is a summertime tradition in Washington dating to 1909 and is known as a time for friendly competition between Republicans and Democrats, even at times when fractious political debates are the norm on Capitol Hill.
The Democrats won Thursday's seven-inning game, 11-2.