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APNewsBreak: Giffords set to undergo skull surgery

Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will undergo surgery on Wednesday to replace a piece of her skull removed by doctors after she was shot in January.

Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will undergo surgery on Wednesday to replace a piece of her skull removed by doctors after she was shot in January.

The surgery was confirmed to The Associated Press by a person familiar with Giffords' care. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the information has not officially been released.

Giffords had a piece of her skull removed shortly after the shooting to allow room for brain swelling, and has been wearing a helmet adorned with an Arizona state flag. Doctors said earlier this year they expected to reattach the skull in May.

The surgery comes just days after Giffords returned from Florida where she watched her astronaut husband rocket into space. Mark Kelly is Endeavour's commander.

Giffords, a three-term Democratic congresswoman, has recovered enough from the shooting to twice fly to from Houston to Florida for launch attempts. When Endeavour's five Americans and one Italian got off the ground on Monday, she watched in private from a wheelchair on the roof of the launch control center and remarked, "good stuff, good stuff," according to her staff.

Giffords returned to Houston and rehab hours after the launch.

That Giffords would watch the shuttle launch seemed improbable a little more than four months ago. The would-be assassin shot her in the head, critically wounding her, killing six people and injuring 12 others at a political event in her hometown of Tucson, Ariz.

The bullet pierced the left side of Giffords' brain, affecting speech and movement on her right side.

Her doctors at a Houston rehabilitation center have said she has made remarkable progress in what will be a long recovery.

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