Pakistani girl shot in the head begins ‘new life’ fighting for education

Posted at 8:28 PM, Feb 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-04 20:28:35-05

London (CNN) — Pakistani teen activist Malala Yousufzai was in stable condition at a British hospital on Sunday after undergoing surgeries to repair her skull and help her hearing, officials said.

“Both operations were a success and Malala is now recovering in hospital. Her medical team are ‘very pleased’ with the progress she has made so far,” the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham said in a statement. “She is awake and talking to staff and members of her family.”

Saturday’s five-hour surgeries were the latest step on a long road to recovery for Malala, who was shot in the head and neck by Taliban gunmen in October for speaking out in favor of education for Pakistani girls.

Last week doctors said they would use a titanium plate to cover an opening in her skull, and give her a cochlear implant to partially restore hearing in her left ear.

The plate was necessary to replace a section of her skull about the size of a hand, which doctors removed to relieve swelling after the shooting. And the inner ear implant will restore some function to her damaged ear, doctors said last week.

The 15-year-old became an international symbol of courage after she was shot by Taliban gunmen last fall for her crusade about girls going to school.

She had blogged fearlessly about girls’ education and accused the Taliban of thriving on ignorance. The Taliban forbid girls in the classroom and have threatened to kill anyone who defies them.

Malala was in a school van on October 9 when the gunmen stopped the vehicle and shot her at point-blank range.

She was flown to the British hospital six days later.

Doctors there discharged her last month, and she has been recovering with her family at a temporary home nearby. Her father, who had been an educator in Pakistan, is now employed at the Pakistani Consulate in Birmingham.

On Sunday, officials said Malala would remain hospitalized until she is well enough to be discharged.