Monday, June 18, 2018

Shot Pakistani girl responding well to treatment

BIRMINGHAM, England — A teenage Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting girls' education has responded well to treatment and impressed doctors with her strength, the British hospital where she was being treated said Tuesday.

Experts are optimistic that 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai, who was airlifted Monday to Britain to receive specialized medical care, has a good chance of recovery because unlike adults, the brains of teenagers are still growing and can adapt better to trauma.

"Her response to treatment so far indicated that she could make a good recovery from her injuries," the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in central England's Birmingham said in a statement.

Despite the early optimism, the full extent of Malala's brain injuries has not been made public and outside experts cautioned it is extremely unlikely that a full recovery of all her brain's functions can be made. Instead, they could only hope that the bullet took a "lucky path" — going through a more "silent," or less active — part of the brain.

"You don't have a bullet go through your brain and have a full recovery," said Dr. Jonathan Fellus, chief scientific officer at the New Jersey-based International Brain Research Foundation.

Malala was returning home from school in Pakistan last week when she was targeted by the Taliban for promoting girls' education and criticizing the militant group's behavior when they took over the scenic Swat Valley where she lived. Two of her classmates were also wounded in the attack and are receiving treatment in Pakistan.

She arrived Monday in Britain, where she can be protected from follow-up attacks threatened by the militants. The Taliban have threatened to target Malala again because she promotes "Western thinking."

There was some concern for the teenager's safety Tuesday when police stopped and questioned two people who tried to visit Malala, but hospital officials and police stressed there was no threat to the girl's safety. The two people, who claimed to be Malala's relatives, were turned away.

"We think it's probably people being over-curious," hospital spokesman Dr. Dave Rosser said.

Pakistani doctors at a military hospital earlier removed a bullet from Malala's body that entered her head and headed toward her spine. The military has said she was able to move her legs and hands several days ago when her sedatives were reduced. They have not said whether she suffered any brain damage or other permanent damage.

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