“Sometime in the next two weeks…” turned out to be just days after the announcement that Malala Yousafzai was ready for reconstructive surgery on her shattered skull. She is now recovering from the five-hour marathon of multiple surgeries that should be the final steps in her recovery from being shot in the head last October by the Taliban as she was leaving her school.
Malala had had the removed portion of skull implanted in her abdomen to keep it from becoming infected, but her doctors decided to use a titanium plate and removed the portion of her skull during the surgery. She had the titanium inserted and in the final stages of her surgery, had a conchlear implant installed to restore the hearing in her left ear.
The surgery was conducted at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, a facility that specializes in traumatic head injuries for British soldiers. She was transferred there from Pakistan when it became clear that the British could provide better care for her. In January, she was released from the hospital to her parents and had continued as an out-patient. To facilitate her care and to protect her from the Taliban who are still planning to kill her for her advocacy of education for girls, Pakistan has appointed her father to be education attache at the Pakistani consulate in Birmingham for three years. Malala and her brother will continue their education in British schools.
Malala is listed in stable condition immediately following the surgery and has, in the opinion of her doctors in Birmingham, made remarkable recovery from the injury intended to end her life. There has been no evidence of brain injury or permanent impairment of any kind. Unlike our Gabby Giffords, who had a bullet follow a straight front to back path on the left side of her head, Malala’s bullet traveled around her skull, causing some fracturing, under her skin. Though it was necessary to remove part of her skull when her brain started to swell, there was minimal trauma to brain tissue. Teenagers’ brains are still growing and this is credited with her complete recovery.
Malala Yousafzai has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and there is considerable support for her nomination.
Drawings of her injuries and surgery provided by the BBC.