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Giffords taken off ventilator

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Giffords taken off ventilator

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was taken off a ventilator Saturday, University Medical Center said.

A tracheotomy was performed on the congresswoman, a spokesman for the hospital said.

Giffords remains in critical condition, but her "recovery continues as planned," said Michael Griffith in a news release.

The tracheotomy was done to "replace the breathing tube that ran down her throat with a tracheotomy tube in her windpipe, protecting her airway and freeing her from the ventilator," he said.

No information on whether Giffords can speak was provided. Her doctors have said they could not determine her ability to vocalize until the breathing tube was removed.

A feeding tube as inserted as well, Griffith said.

"These procedures are not uncommon among brain-injured patients in the intensive care unit," he said.

Although the congresswoman had been breathing on her own for several days, the ventilator was providing warm, humidified air to forestall pneumonia, doctors said last week.

Of the other patients still in the hospital, two remain in good condition. One patient was discharged Saturday.

There will be another live medical briefing on Giffords' condition Monday morning, Griffith said.

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