NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Congressman Steve Scalise remains in critical condition in the intensive care unit of a D.C.-area hospital.
The Med Star Washington director of trauma said when Scalise arrived, there was an "imminent risk of death," but now doctors are encouraged by his improvement.
"I think that his risk of death right now is substantially lower than when he came in, and certainly whatever you think of the word critical, he was as critical as you can be when he came in," said Trauma Director Dr. Jack Sava.
The congressman sustained a single rifle wound that entered the left hip and traveled across his pelvis. That round did substantial damage to bones, internal organs and blood vessels. We're told the biggest challenge doctors faced was controlling his bleeding.
"The congressman's status remains critical. We are encouraged by improvement in his condition over the last 36 hours, we have controlled the internal bleeding and his vital signs have stabilized. He will require additional operations to manage abdominal injuries and other bone injuries," said Sava.
Scalise was awake at the scene Wednesday, but by the time he was airlifted to the trauma center he was in shock. He has since had two surgeries and received many blood transfusions. The bullet that hit him fragmented into hundreds of pieces, but Sava said there is more risk involved in trying to find and remove those fragments than benefit.
"The next operation would likely take place within 48 hours, but it's a pretty dynamic decision-making process. What typically takes place when patients are severely injured like this is called damage control surgery, and what that means is that rather than trying to do everything in one operation on day 1, we generally stage the operations. The first operation is dedicated mainly to bleeding control and the other types of work you have to do are staged for later operations," said Sava.
But Sava said an excellent recovery is a good possibility for Scalise. Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, couldn't be happier to hear that news.
"Steve's tough. He's tough as a three-dollar steak. I've known him for a long time. He's going to beat this. We're going to get him back on his feet, but everybody's got to be patient cause it's going to be a slow process," said Kennedy.
Sava said it's difficult to predict how long Rep. Scalise will be in the hospital, but he did say it will be a considerable amount of time, likely weeks. Doctors do expect him to be able to walk again.