Shot Pakistani girl can recover, UK doctors say

BIRMINGHAM, England Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:58pm IST

1 of 2. A portrait of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai is pictured during a candlelight vigil organized by Nepalese Youth in Kathmandu October 15, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar

BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) - A Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban has every chance of making a "good recovery", British doctors said on Monday as 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai arrived at a hospital in central England for treatment of her severe wounds.

Yousufzai, 14, shot in the head and neck for advocating education for girls, was flown from Pakistan to receive specialist treatment at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital at a unit expert in dealing with complex trauma cases that has treated hundreds of soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.

"Doctors ... believe she has a chance of making a good recovery on every level," said Dr Dave Rosser, the hospital's medical director, adding her treatment and rehabilitation could take months.

He told reporters she had not yet been assessed by British medics but said she would not have been brought to Britain at all if the chances of her recovering were not good.

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.

Rosser said they could not provide any further details of her injuries without her agreement. Yousufzai did not come from Pakistan with any of her relatives but the Pakistani Consulate are proving support and her family may join her at a later date.

Yousufzai, a cheerful schoolgirl who had wanted to become a doctor before agreeing to her father's wishes that she strive to be a politician, has become a potent symbol of resistance against the Taliban's efforts to deprive girls of an education.

Pakistanis have held some protests and candlelight vigils but most government officials have refrained from publicly criticising the Taliban by name over the attack, in what critics say is a lack of resolve against extremism.

(Reporting by Alessandra Prentice; Writing by Michael Holden; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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