Father of girl shot by Taliban thanks UK medics and public

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The father of shot teenager Malala Yousufzai thanked hospital staff and members of the public yesterday for their help and support for his daughter.

Ziauddin Yousufzai said the decision for his daughter to be flown to the UK and treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham had been a “miracle” for him and his family.

Speaking to media at a briefing at the hospital yesterday, Mr Yousufzai’s voice shook as he said: “The very day I saw my daughter, and the next day when she was operated, her whole body was swollen and she was in very bad condition.”

Mr Yousufzai, who was accompanied by Malala’s 12-year-old brother Khushal Khan, said he had been advised that he should make arrangements for her funeral short after she was attacked.

She was flown to the UK for treatment at the specialist hospital after she was shot and wounded by a Taliban gunman on October 9.

Mr Yousufzai said the family had received regular updates from Dr David Rosser, who is treating Malala at the hospital, while they were in Pakistan.

He said: “She is improving with an encouraging speed and we are very happy. She got the right treatment at the right place at the right time.”

Mr Yousufzai thanked members of the public around the world who had showed support for his daughter and her cause for “peace and education”.

He said: “An attacker, who could be called the agent of Satan, he attacked, but after that I found angels on my side, everywhere, all around me, until this time and this place.”

He added: “I’m thankful to all the people all over the world. They condemned the attack and prayed for my daughter.”

The teenager’s family flew to the UK on Thursday to be at her bedside as she recovers.

Mr Yousufzai said his wife, Toorpekai, was too camera-shy to attend the media briefing, while Malala’s youngest brother, eight-year-old Atal Khan, was too tired to appear.

Speaking about seeing Malala for the first time in the UK, he said: “I love her. Last night when we met her there were tears in our eyes out of happiness. For some time we all cried a bit.”

He said she had also asked her father on the phone to bring her school books so she could study for her exams.

Dr Rosser, who is treating the teenager, said Malala was continuing to make very good progress clinically.

He said she was now able to walk with very little help and was eating well and talking. He said both her short and long-term memory seemed to be fine.

Malala was travelling home from school with two classmates in north-west Pakistan when she was attacked.

She was shot by a gunman who boarded the minibus taking her from school and it is believed the bullet was fired from point-blank range. It hit just above the back of her left eye and the shot was close to being fatal.

The bullet travelled down through the side of Malala’s jaw, damaging her skull and jaw joint on the left hand side, and went through her neck and lodged in the tissues above her shoulder blade.

The attack was blamed on the Taliban, which was influential in the area of Pakistan where the family live.

It decreed that girls should not attend school but Malala defied their order and went on to challenge the organisation, writing a blog on her experience of continuing her education, explaining that she and her remaining classmates had been told to stop wearing school uniform to avoid drawing attention to themselves.

Yesterday Dr Rosser said: “We’re very much in a phase of her care that is about her recovery, both physical and psychological.”

“She’s very tired but she managed a big smile for her mum and dad and her brothers.”

The next phase of her recovery will be to undergo reconstructive surgery on her skull. Although that will have to wait until she is strong enough, it could happen within the next few weeks.

When asked about her long-term recovery, Dr Rosser said: “She’s likely to make a full recovery.”