Pakistani girl battles infection, but able to stand

Doctors say teen can communicate

LONDON – Malala Yousufzai, the teenage education-rights campaigner who was shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan, has been able to stand for the first time since the attack and is communicating by writing, a British hospital official said Friday.

But the 14-year-old whose plight has aroused international concern is still fighting an infection caused by the bullet that entered her skull, burrowed through her jaw and lodged in her shoulder blade, said David Rosser, medical director at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, in central England. Yousufzai was flown to the hospital this week to receive treatment.

Rosser said she continued to show signs of improvement since waking from a long anesthesia.

“One of the first things she asked the nurses was what country she was in,” he told reporters, adding: “She’s closer to the edge of the woods, but she’s not out of the woods.”

The teenager was shot in a school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, where she had risen to prominence by courageously advocating the right to education for girls despite the fanatical Taliban’s sway over the region. The Taliban have vowed to finish her off, prompting tight security at the Birmingham hospital.

Rosser said scans had shown some damage to her brain, which was grazed by the bullet. But encouragingly, “at this stage we’re not seeing any deficit in terms of function. She seems to be able to understand; she has some memory. … She’s able to stand. She’s got motor control, so she’s able to write.”

Rosser said the girl would require a couple of weeks of recuperation before surgeons try to reconstruct the damaged part of her skull and possibly her jaw.

“It would be over-optimistic to say that there are not going to be further problems,” Rosser said. “But it is possible she’ll make a full recovery.”


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