UK doctors hopeful for Pakistan girl recovery

Malala Yousafzai, getting treatment in UK after shot by Taliban, has chance for “good recovery”, British doctors say.

Malala treated in UK hospital
The hospital has the world's largest critical care unit for gunshot wounds, spinal damage and major head injuries [EPA]

The Pakistani schoolgirl who is receiving specialist medical treatment in the UK after being shot by the Taliban in her home country last week, has a reasonable chance of making a “good recovery”, British doctors said.

Fourteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai arrived at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the central UK city of Birmingham on Monday.

Malala, who has been campaigning for education for girls, was attacked last Tuesday as she was returning home from school in Mingora in northwestern Swat.

She was flown from Pakistan on board an air ambulance provided by the United Arab Emirates and accompanied by a full medical team.

Dave Rosser, Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s medical director, said that Malala would not have been brought to Britain at all if her prognosis was not good.

“Well it very clearly says that the doctors, some of whom were people from here in the children’s hospital believed that she has a chance of making a good recovery, as it clearly would have been inappropriate on every level, not least for her, to put her through all this, if there was no hope of a decent recovery.

“I’ve not seen her, but it is clear they believe there is a chance of a decent recovery.”

She will now undergo scans to reveal the extent of her injuries, but Rosser said they could not provide any further details without her agreement.

Pakistani surgeons removed a bullet from near her spinal cord during a three-hour operation the day after the attack last week, but she now needs intensive specialist follow-up care.

Hospital’s specialisation

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, a large complex in the south of England’s second city, has treated every British military casualty for the last decade, Rossner said.

The hospital has the world’s largest single-floor critical care unit for patients with gunshot wounds, burns, spinal damage and major head injuries.

Treatment for Malala is likely to include repairing damaged bones in her skull and complex follow-up neurological treatment.

Pakistani journalist discusses outrage over attack on Malala

“There’s a huge range of specialties that we have on this site. Pretty much everything that you could envisage needing after any injury,” Rossner said.

“And of course because we are the receiving hospital for all the British battle casulties and have been for the last ten years we do, unfortunately, have very extensive experience of dealing with this sort of traumatic bullet related injury.” Rossner added.

Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting from Birmingham, said: “The hospital is a trauma centre. It is one of the biggest in the world provided by the National Health Service, but the treatment will be paid for by the United Arab Emirates.

“This hospital specialises in brain injury.”

A source in a hospital in the city of Rawalpindi, where she was initially being treated, told Al Jazeera on Sunday that her condition was “critical” and that she had a slim chance of recovering.

Global condemnation

The shooting of Yousafzai has been denounced worldwide and by the Pakistani authorities, who have offered a reward of more than $100,000 for the capture of her attackers.

The attack has angered Pakistan, where Malala won international prominence with a blog that highlighted atrocities under the Taliban who terrorised the Swat Valley from 2007 until a 2009 army offensive.

Activists say the shooting should be a wake-up call to those who advocate appeasement with the Taliban, but analysts suspect there will be no seismic shift in a country that has sponsored radical Islam for decades.

Local police officials told Al Jazeera that the investigation into who was responsible for the attack was ongoing. The perpetrators were witnessed escaping into a nearby slum.

Four people have been arrested in connection to the shooting. They were among about 60 to 70 suspects rounded up in the Swat region this week, but all were subsequently released.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies