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Wounded Pakistani schoolgirl 'not out of the woods yet'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 19th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai, who was shot by the Taliban for daring to speak out against repression in her community, is able to stand with the help of nurses. The 15-year-old blogger is also "communicating very freely," according to the director of the U.K. hospital where she is undergoing treatment.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Malala can't speak as she has a tracheotomy tube inserted in her esophagus to protect her airway. She is writing coherent sentences, according to Dave Rosser, director of University Hospitals Birmingham.

"We have no reason to believe she won't be able to talk when the tube is out, which may be in the next few days," he said. Rosser says that she "is not out of the woods yet" but is doing very well, he added.

There "is certainly physical damage to the brain" from the bullet that entered Malala's head, Rosser said. She appears to be functioning well intellectually and has the motor control to stand, with help from nurses.

"Whether there are any subtle intellectual or memory deficits down the line, it's too early to say," he said.

Malala is aware of her surroundings and appears to have some memory of what happened. She agreed that the hospital could release more information about her condition.

"She is keen that people share the details. She is also keen that I thank people for their support and their interest, because she's obviously aware of the amount of interest this is generating around the world," he said.

One of the first things she asked nurses upon regaining consciousness was what country she was in, he said.

"There is every sign that she understands why she's here," he said. "It's a very difficult position for her, because she's gone from being on her school bus, and the next thing she will be consciously aware of is being in a strange hospital in a different country. So she seems to have understood why she is no longer in Pakistan and what is happening to her."

Malala appears to understand English, he said.

The hospital has set up a bank account for donations. The key concern for doctors currently is to treat signs of infection probably related to the path the bullet took through her body, Rosser said.

The bullet entered above the back of her left eye, traveled down through her jaw and into her left shoulder, lodging in the tissue above her shoulder blade. Her skull and jaw were damaged by its passage.

MRI scans also show that the bullet grazed the side of her brain, he said, where the majority of the damage tends to be caused by shock waves from the shot.

The hospital is trying to arrange for her to listen to her father on the phone, although she cannot speak because of the tracheotomy tube, he added.

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