Doctors say Pakistani girl shot by Taliban improving

“In the midst of darkness, light exists…and persists burning, as a tiny candle of hope….even in the darkest of places.”

Doctors say Pakistani girl shot by Taliban improving

Friday, 19 October 2012


A man walks next to a sand sculpture of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban, created by Indian sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik on a beach in Puri in the eastern Indian state of Odisha. (Reuters)




The British hospital treating a 15-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban raised hopes for her recovery Friday when doctors said she was able to stand with some help and to write.

Malala Yousufzai appeared with her eyes open and alert as she lay in a hospital bed, in the first photographs released by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham since she arrived from Pakistan on Monday.

It was a series of positive developments since the shooting, which was a brazen bid by the Taliban to silence the girl, who has been an outspoken advocate for girls’ right to education.

Still, doctors said she shows signs of infection and faces a long, difficult recovery with uncertain prospects.

“She is not out of the woods yet,” hospital medical director Dr. Dave Rosser said. “Having said that, she’s doing very well. In fact, she was standing with some help for the first time this morning when I went in to see her.”

He said Malala had agreed to the release of medical information and photos, and wants to thank people throughout the world for their interest and support in the difficult days since she was gunned down in Pakistan.

The infection is probably related to the track of the bullet that hit her head when she was attacked by Taliban gunmen, he said.

A large bruise beneath her left eye could be seen in the photo released Friday, showing Malala in her hospital bed with a toy bear. The upbeat report galvanized Malala’s many backers, who had feared the worst.

Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, daughter of the late Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto, described Malala’s progress as wondrous.

“Miracles of today: Malala able to stand,” she tweeted.

Canadian writer and journalist Irshad Manji celebrated the girl’s progress on Twitter: “So listen up world; Miracle Malala has more 2 say.”

Brain injury experts stressed, however, that she is at the start of what will be a long process.

Dr. Jaime Levine, medical director of brain injury rehabilitation at New York University’s Rusk Rehabilitation unit in Manhattan, said Malala’s ability to stand with assistance and move her arms was a “wonderful sign,” but the doctor said it was too soon to say whether she would make a complete recovery.

“For some, recovery from a brain injury is a lifelong process,” Levine said. “Some people are left with limitations for the rest of their lives. We speak about recovery in terms of goals and function. For a 15-year-old girl attending school with the promise of her whole life in front of her, goals for her are to finish school and to have a job one day and to have a family. … But we’re not talking about those goals yet. We’re talking about short-term goals.”

Malala has come to be a symbol for a girl’s right to education.

At the age of 11, she began writing a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC about life under the Taliban in the Swat Valley. After the military ousted the militants in 2009, she began publicly speaking out about the need for girls’ education. She appeared frequently in the media and was given one of the country’s highest civilian honors for her bravery.

Malala was shot and critically wounded on Oct. 9 as she headed home from school in the northwest Swat Valley. The Taliban said they targeted Malala, a fierce advocate for girls’ education, because she promoted “Western thinking” and was critical of the militant group.

The Taliban attack was widely condemned.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the shooting as a “heinous and cowardly act,” and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the “attack reminds us of the challenges that girls face, whether it is poverty or marginalization or even violence just for speaking out for their basic rights.”

Malala was flown from Pakistan to Birmingham on Monday for advanced medical treatment and for security protection. She was in a medically induced coma when she arrived, and regained consciousness on Tuesday, the hospital said.

The medical briefing Friday offered the first real indication of her progress. Earlier briefings were quite limited out of respect for the girl’s privacy.

She is in Britain alone. Hospital officials have been in touch with her family in Pakistan.

Rosser said the girl “is communicating very freely, she is writing” but not speaking because she has a tracheotomy tube in her throat.

“We have no reason to believe that she would not be able to talk once this tube is out, which it may be in the next few days,” Rosser said.

Scans have revealed some physical damage to her brain, but “at this stage we’re not seeing any deficit in terms of function,” Rosser said.

She seems able to understand. She’s got motor control, she’s able to write.”
“Whether there’s any subtle intellectual or memory deficits down the line is too early to say,” he added.

“It is possible she will make a smooth recovery, but it is impossible to tell I’m afraid.”
Malala needs time to recover her strength before surgery to reconstruct her skull, either with her own bone or a titanium plate, the hospital said in a briefing note. That could be weeks or months in the future.

The bullet, which was removed by surgeons in Pakistan, hit Malala’s left brow. It traveled beneath the skin and into the neck, damaging soft tissue at the base of the jaw and base of the neck, the note said.

“There is every sign that she understands why she’s here,” Rosser said.

“It’s a very difficult position for her, clearly, because she has gone from being on a school bus and the next thing she will be consciously aware of is being in a strange hospital in a different country.”

Officials in the Swat Valley originally said Malala was 14 years old but officials at her school confirmed that her birthday was July 12, 1997, making her 15, as the U.S. public broadcaster NPR reported earlier.


Shot Pakistani girl responding well to treatment

By MARTIN BENEDYK and SYLVIA HUI | Associated Press – Tue, Oct 16, 2012


Enlarge Photo

Associated Press/David Jones, PA – Malala Yousufzai, 14, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by Taliban gunmen, is transferred from the plane aboard a stretcher as she arrives at Birmingham Airport, England, …more 


The plane carrying injured Pakistani …

Malala Yousufzai, 14, the Pakistani …

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — A teenage Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting girls’ education has responded well to treatment and impressed doctors with her strength, the British hospital where she was being treated said Tuesday.

Experts are optimistic that 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai, who was airlifted Monday to Britain to receive specialized medical care, has a good chance of recovery because unlike adults, the brains of teenagers are still growing and can adapt to trauma better.

“Her response to treatment so far indicated that she could make a good recovery from her injuries,” the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in central England’s Birmingham said in a statement.

Despite the early optimism, the full extent of Malala’s brain injuries has not been made public and outside experts cautioned it is extremely unlikely that a full recovery of all her brain’s functions can be made. Instead, they could only hope that the bullet took a “lucky path” — going through a more “silent,” or less active — part of the brain.

“You don’t have a bullet go through your brain and have a full recovery,” said Dr. Jonathan Fellus, chief scientific officer at the New Jersey-based International Brain Research Foundation.

Malala was returning home from school in Pakistan last week when she was targeted by the Taliban for promoting girls’ education and criticizing the militant group’s behavior when they took over the scenic Swat Valley where she lived. Two of her classmates were also wounded in the attack and are receiving treatment in Pakistan.

She arrived Monday in Britain, where she can be protected from follow-up attacks threatened by the militants. The Taliban have threatened to target Malala again because she promotes “Western thinking.”

There was some concern for the teenager’s safety Tuesday when police stopped and questioned two people who tried to visit Malala, but hospital officials and police stressed there was no threat to the girl’s safety. The two people, who claimed to be Malala’s relatives, were turned away.

“We think it’s probably people being over-curious,” hospital spokesman Dr. Dave Rosser said.

Pakistani doctors at a military hospital earlier removed a bullet from Malala’s body that entered her head and headed toward her spine. The military has said she was able to move her legs and hands several days ago when her sedatives were reduced. They have not said whether she suffered any brain damage or other permanent damage.

On Monday, the military said damaged bones in Malala’s skull will need to be repaired or replaced, and she will need “intensive neuro rehabilitation.” The decision to send the girl abroad was taken in consultation with her family, and the Pakistani government will pay for her treatment.

Doctors say Malala has an advantage because teens are generally healthier and their bodies have a stronger ability to react to the disruption that the injury causes.

“It helps to be young and resilient to weather that storm,” Fellus, at the International Brain Research Foundation, said. “Because her brain is continuing to develop at that age, she may have more flexibility in the brain.”

There’s also a psychological aspect to why youngsters have a better shot at recovery. While injured adults often mourn the loss of what they had, teens don’t know what they are missing.

“They have an amazing capacity for hope,” Fellus said. In Malala’s case, her strong personality would also help her recover, he added.

Still, experts cautioned that it is impossible to say how Malala will do without knowing the path of the bullet and what damages it caused, details that have not been released.

“The brain is like real estate,” said Dr. Anders Cohen, chief of neurosurgery at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York. “Location is everything.

“Based on the information we have, it appears that Malala was shot from the front down diagonally, but we don’t know what part of the brain the bullet went through, whether it crossed the midline and hit any vessels, or whether the bullet passed through the right or left side of the brain.”

The attack on the girls horrified people in Pakistan and across the world. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said Malala had become “a symbol of all that is good in us.”

“The work she did is far higher before God than that which is being done by terrorists in the name of religion,” he said at the Economic Cooperation Organization Summit in Baku, the capital ofAzerbaijan. “We will continue her bright work.”

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik has announced a $1 million bounty for Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan, saying he was the one who announced that the Taliban carried out the attack on Malala.


Associated Press Writers Cassandra Vinograd and Jill Lawless in London, Aida Sultanova, in Baku, Azerbaijan, and Sebastian Abbot in Islamabad, Pakistan, contributed to this story.


“In the midst of darkness, light exists…and persists burning, as a tiny candle of hope….even in – the darkest of places.”

– craig  (as inspired by the words of Mahatma Gandhi)

For more info on brain (head) injury see

Also see Youtube videos on Malala’s campaign for girls education in the face of the Taliban

Eighth grader stood up against terrorism for education!

Malala Yousuf Zai Exclusive Interview-29 Jan 2012


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4 Responses to “Doctors say Pakistani girl shot by Taliban improving”

  1. craiglock Says:

    Reblogged this on Working, Striving towards a more Peaceful World.


  2. craiglock Says:

    MANY MORE COMMENTS OVERNIGHT (many, already on this blog (together with hundreds of thousands on my various other blogs…true!) …so hope it’s not slowing down your loading speed!). Am really pleased you are enjoying my writings, as the reason I write is to share.
    Am having to remove many and so sorry can’t reply individually, but DO try to read as many as possible daily
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    “As we live and move and have our being, so from this vision, we create heaven in our own lives… and perhaps even heaven on earth.”
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    “Aim at the earth and you may not get off the ground.
    “Aim at the stars and you may reach the moon.”
    “Aim at heaven and you’ll have earth thrown in…
    and you may even hit the stars.”
    – craig (as inspired by the famous quote by CS Lewis – 24th May 2012)
    “When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
    – Leonardo da Vinci
    “If a man is called to be a street-sweeper,
    he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted,
    or Beethoven composed music, or
    Shakespeare wrote poetry.
    He should sweep streets so well
    that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say,
    here lived a great street sweeper
    who did his job well.”
    – Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.
    The various books that Craig “felt inspired to write” are available at:
    All proceeds go to needy and underprivileged children –
    Instead of trying to reply to each one of you, I’ll just keep on writing
    “If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I’d type a little faster.” and and


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