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Pakistani Girl Shot By Taliban To Get Titanium Skull Reconstruction

posted 30 Jan 2013, 08:30 by Mpelembe   [ updated 30 Jan 2013, 08:30 ]

The Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban after advocating education for girls is to undergo reconstructive surgery at a British hospital to repair her shattered skull and restore her hearing.

 BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (JANUARY 30, 2013) (REUTERS) -  Pakistani teenage activist, Malala Yousufzai, who was shot in the head by theTaliban, is soon to undergo reconstructive surgery to rebuild her shattered skull.

Doctors at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital in England on Wednesday (January 30) revealed they would place a custom-made titanium plate over the large hole on the left side of her skull, which will greatly improve her quality of life.

The 15-year-old is currently deaf in her left ear, so surgeons will also fit a cochlear implant which will mean her hearing will fully recover.

The operations will take place at some point over the next ten days, the hospital said.

Medical Director, Dr. Dave Rosser, paid tribute to Yousufzai and said she was coping very well.

"She's a remarkable young lady, she really is. She's very lively, she's got a great sense of humour," he told reporters.

He said she was well aware of the international attention she had attracted and was buoyed by the messages of support she had received from all over the world.

She was also aware of the dangers she faced by vowing to continue her activism, Dr. Rosser said.

"She is not naive to any of that but she remains incredibly cheerful, incredibly determined and incredibly determined to continue to speak for her cause. She really is a remarkable young lady," he said.

Yousufzai first became well-known as an 11-year-old when she wrote a blog for theBBC's Urdu service detailing how she and her friends coped with the Taliban and the closure of girls' schools.

She has frequently spoken out about her passion for education. But she was shot in the head at close range by the Pakistan Taliban last October as she left her own school in the Swat Valley.

After receiving life-saving surgery in Pakistan she was flown to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, which specialises in trauma cases.

Teams of surgeons and therapists have been working to help Yousufzai and the reconstructive skull and ear surgery should be the last operations she will have to undergo.

Rosser said it was an exciting time for Yousufzai medical team.

"It's great to be part of, I guess, reconstructing a young lady, who, had she not had the specialist input here, would have been probably very severely disabled, very vulnerable to brain injuries, as I've said. To be able to create a situation where certainly physically, she should be as near normal as makes no difference is, is great," he said.

Currently the hole in Yousufzai's skull is vulnerable. The specialist who made her titanium plate, Stefan Edmondson, said the upcoming surgery would make a big difference to the teenager's life.

"The titanium cranioplasty will absorb any secondary blows, it will allow someone to sleep a lot better, just head on a pillow, everyday things that we take for granted," he said.

Doctors said Yousufzai was being closely monitored for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, but said that so far, she appeared to be thriving.

"She is not showing signs of any psychological problems at the moment, but as we know, these are unpredictable and difficult to manage long-term, can come on later on. So one of the reasons we are very keen to keep her away from the limelight herself, is because we know that patients being asked 'Tell me what happened, tell me about it' repeatedly does increase the chance of post- traumatic stress and that sort of thing," said Dr. Rosser.

Yousufzai released from hospital in early January to allow her to continue her recovery at home with her family.

The upcoming surgery will take just over three hours and Yousufzai will remain in hospital for anything up to a week afterwards before being sent back home.

Her medical team believe, if all goes well, she should make a complete physical and psychological recovery within the next 15 to 18 months.