Taliban victim Malala 'beat the odds to live' – and now she’s standing


Doctors treating the Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen have unveiled how close she came to dying, detailing how the bullet that struck her failed to penetrate her skull.

As pictures of a heavily bandaged but fully conscious Malala Yousafzai lying in a Birmingham hospital bed were beamed around the world today, doctors revealed the incredible odds that the 15-year-old managed to overcome since she was shot 10 days ago.

Dr Dave Rosser, medical director at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital said: "The bullet grazed the edge of her brain, certainly if you're talking a couple of inches more central, then it's almost certainly an unsurvivable injury."

Those treating the teenager said that despite being struck at point blank range, the bullet followed an astonishingly lucky trajectory, striking her left brow and travelling under her skin into her neck.

The shockwave from the bullet caused small pieces of her skull to break off into her brain but she otherwise managed to avoid a potentially fatal cerebral injury.

The shooting of Yousafzai, who publicly campaigned for the right for women to go to school, caused international headlines and widespread revulsion in Pakistan against the brutality of its home grown Taliban movements.

A local Taliban group in the Swat valley which operates out of neighbouring Afghanistan claimed to have organised the hit but, as criticism of their actions mounted in Pakistan, al-Qa'ida's media wing, a prominent Uzbek militant group and Pakistan's largest Taliban network Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan also issued justifications for her shooting.

Militants view the young girl with contempt because she has publicly encouraged women to be educated, something the more socially conservative elements of the Taliban view as "western thinking" and theologically unacceptable.

After surviving the attack she was initially treated in Pakistan by doctors who removed the bullet from her neck. But on Monday she was flown to Britain to receive specialist medical attention from doctors at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham who have detailed experience in dealing with gunshot wound victims.

Doctors treating the young shooting victim announced yesterday that Malala had been brought out of a medically induced coma and had been able to stand and write. But they warned she was still at risk and is currently battling an infection.

"She's not out of the woods yet," said Dr Dave Rosser. "Having said that, she's doing very well. In fact, she was standing with some help for the first time this morning when I went to see her."

The doctor confirmed that she was currently unable to speak because doctors had to perform a tracheotomy to ensure that she could breathe. But she has been able to communicate with staff through writing.

"We have no reason to believe that she would not be able to talk once this tube is out, maybe in the next few days," he said.

Asked whether she faced any long term physical impact from the attack he replied that scans have revealed some physical damage to her brain, but "at this stage we're not seeing any deficit in terms of function."

He added: "She seems able to understand. She's got motor control, she's able to write. Whether there's any subtle intellectual or memory deficits down the line is too early to say. It is possible she will make a smooth recovery, but it is impossible to tell I'm afraid."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living