Today in History: Ronald Reagan Discharged From Hospital After Being Shot

Today in History: Ronald Reagan Discharged From Hospital After Being Shot

by M.C. Millman

Eleven days after being shot and seriously wounded by an assassin,  President Ronald Reagan was released from the hospital on April 10, 1981.

While leaving a speaking engagement, the President was shot outside a Washington, D.C., hotel by John W. Hinckley Jr. Within 1.7 seconds of the first shot, Hinckley emptied the chamber of his .22 caliber Röhm revolver. Reagan suffered a punctured lung which required emergency surgery. White House Press Secretary James Brady, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy, and District of Columbia Police Officer Thomas Delahanty were also wounded in the incident.

Hinckley, a product of a privileged youth and college dropout who craved fame, was handcuffed and arrested at the scene. 

Reagan was taken to the emergency room, where a tube was inserted into his chest. An X-ray showed a metal fragment at the margin of his heart. Reagan required infusions to stabilize his pressure which was nearly non-detectable upon arrival after he lost  40 percent of his body's blood.

When his wife approached his bedside, Reagan still had the wherewithal to crib boxer Jack Dempsey's line after a lost match and joked, "Honey, I forgot to duck."

"I hope you are all Republicans," was another line the President quipped as he was wheeled into surgery.

"Mr. President," Dr. Joseph Giordano, head of the trauma team and a fifth-generation Democrat, responded, "for today, we are all Republicans."

Eleven days later, on April 10, the President was back at the White House.

John Hinckley Jr. was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was committed to a mental hospital. He was released in 2016 to Williamsburg, Virginia, the exclusive home of his mother.

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