Doctors ‘encouraged’ by Scalise’s improvement

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise remains in critical condition Friday, days after a shooting at an early-morning baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia.

The Louisiana Republican is recovering from “substantial damage” he suffered when a bullet pierced his left hip and traveled directly across to the other hip, Dr. Jack Sava of MedStar Washington Hospital Center said Friday.

Although Scalise was able to talk on the ballfield, by the time he was transported by helicopter to the hospital, he was in shock. He arrived “in critical condition with an imminent risk of death,” Sava said, adding that now, “we are encouraged by improvement in his condition.”

Scalise is being treated in the hospital’s intensive care unit. His risk of death is “substantially lower” than it was when he was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday, and “I think that an excellent recovery is a good possibility,” Sava said.

The bullet damaged blood vessels, bones, and internal organs, Sava said. Scalise will undergo more operations. He remains sedated but has been able to respond to his family.

Doctors “fully expect him to walk,” Sava said, “and hopefully run.”

During the baseball practice on Wednesday, a gunman opened fire, injuring Scalise, congressional staffer Zach Barth, Tyson Foods lobbyist Matt Mika and two members of the Capitol Police force, Crystal Griner and David Bailey.

Law enforcement officials identified the shooter as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, who later died from injuries sustained during a shootout with police on the scene.

“On behalf of Steve and our children, I want to thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for the incredible amount of prayers and warm wishes we have received since Wednesday’s events,” Scalise’s wife, Jennifer, said in a statement Friday.

If Scalise did not suffer nerve damage and his recovery continues without any complications, “it is possible that within three months or so, he can … be back on his feet,” said Dr. Alex Jahangir, an orthopedic trauma surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who was not involved in Scalise’s care.

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