Pakistani girl shot by Taliban "doing well"

LONDON Fri Oct 19, 2012 10:08am EDT

1 of 3. A portrait of 14-year-old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousufzai, is displayed during a candlelight vigil by a women's group in Hong Kong October 19, 2012. Yousufzai, who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen, is 'not out of the woods' but is doing well and has been able to stand for the first time with some help, doctors at the British hospital treating her said on Friday. Yousufzai was flown from Pakistan to Birmingham to receive treatment after the attack earlier this month, which drew widespread international condemnation.

Credit: Reuters/Bobby Yip

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LONDON (Reuters) - A Pakistani girl shot in the head by Taliban gunmen is "not out of the woods" but is doing well and has been able to stand for the first time, doctors at the British hospital treating her said on Friday.

Malala Yousufzai, who was shot for vocally opposing the Taliban, was flown from Pakistan to Birmingham to receive treatment after the attack earlier this month, which drew widespread international condemnation.

She has become a symbol of resistance to the Islamist group's effort to deny women education and other rights.

Dave Rosser, medical director of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, said she was now able to write and appeared to have memory recall despite her brain injuries.

"It's clear that she's not out of the woods yet," Rosser told reporters, saying she had sustained a "very, very grave injury". But he said she was "doing very well".

"In fact she was standing with some help for the first time this morning. She's communicating very freely, writing," he said.

Rosser said, however, that the teenager was not able to speak because she had undergone a tracheotomy so she could breathe through a tube in her neck, an operation that was performed because her airways had been swollen by the bullet.

Yousufzai was shot as she left school in Swat, northwest of Islamabad. The Taliban said they attacked her because she spoke out against the group and praised U.S. President Barack Obama.

The alleged organizer of the shooting was captured during a 2009 military offensive against the Taliban, but released after three months, two senior officials told Reuters.

In a detailed statement about Yousufzai's injuries, Rosser said she had suffered fractures to the base of her skull and to the bone behind her left ear. Her left jawbone is also injured at its joint.

"POINT BLANK RANGE"

"Malala was shot at point blank range," with the bullet hitting her left brow, Rosser said. But instead of penetrating skull it travelled underneath the skin, the whole length of the side of her head and into her neck.

Shock waves from the shot shattered the thinnest bone of her skull and fragments were driven into her brain.

Rosser said there was certainly physical damage to the brain but it was too early to tell whether that would affect any brain functions.

"She seems to be able to understand, she has some memory," he said. "She's able to stand, she's got motor control ... (but) whether there are any subtle intellectual or memory deficits down the line, it's too early to say."

The hospital unit is expert in dealing with complex trauma cases and has treated hundreds of soldiers wounded in Afghanistan. It has the world's largest single-floor critical care unit for patients with gunshot wounds, burns, spinal damage and major head injuries.

Rosser said Yousufzai's treatment is likely to include reconstructive surgery to replace the damaged skull bone.

That surgery is unlikely to be able to be carried until for several weeks or even months, he said, since she is also fighting an infection that needs to be cured first.

"She's going to need a couple of weeks to rehabilitate, to make sure the infection is cleared up," he said.

(Reporting by Alessandra Rizzo and Kate Kelland; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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Comments (5)
americanguy wrote:
Of course she is doing well. “Socialist” Europe has the finest and most advanced healthcare in the world, not the US as the corporations like to tell us. With universal healthcare, there is no need to provide substandard treatments to patients for profits. If I had a serious illness and had the money, I would go to Germany, England, Switzerland, or France for the latest and most advanced treatments. That’s what the wealthy do when they get sick.

Oct 19, 2012 8:55am EDT  --  Report as abuse
gregbrew56 wrote:
It will be interesting to see where this event takes this brave young woman. I would love to see a foundation created in her name to help women all over the world who are oppressed based on outdated religious principles.

I would certainly donate to a branch office in the U.S.A. (It’s not just a problem in the M.E.!)

Oct 19, 2012 10:53am EDT  --  Report as abuse
momo51 wrote:
What save her was her young age. Hopefully she can recover completely. She’s a freaking brave kid. The Talibans made a mistake. She is going to be stronger and more powerful now, an icon for her country. Who knows, we could read in a Pakistani newspaper, in a few years: “The girl who save a country and destroy the Talibans”. She is on the humanity scale a 10 ! The Talibans are … a zero.

Oct 19, 2012 12:13pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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