Medical treatment

The day following the attack, Yousafzai was still being treated in the intensive care unit of the military hospital in Peshawar, where doctors performed a decompressive craniectomy, in which part of the skull is removed to allow room for the brain to swell. Before the surgery, Yousafzai was moving her hands and feet, which suggested there was no paralysis, and she verbally responded to a teacher immediately after the shooting.A plane was being held on standby at nearby Bacha Khan International Airport to move her out of Pakistan for further treatment if necessary.

On 11 October 2012, a panel of Pakistani and British doctors made the decision to move Yousafzai to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi.A medical team treating her at the hospital reported, “neurologically she has significantly improved … coming days … are very critical”. Mumtaz Khan, a doctor, said that she had a 70% chance of survival. According to her uncle, Faiz Muhammad, she had not been conscious or responsive since the surgery to remove the bullet and remained on a ventilator.A CT scan indicated that there was still slight swelling in Yousafzai’s brain, but her vital organs were intact and functioning normally.Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that Yousafzai would be shifted to Germany, where she could receive the best medical treatment, as soon as she was stable enough to travel. A team of doctors would travel with her, and the government would bear the expenditures of her treatment.

On 13 October 2012, doctors reduced Yousafzai’s sedation and she moved all four limbs.The following day, there were conflicting reports of where Yousafzai would be treated abroad and the current status of her health. Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Jamil Ahmed Khan, said Yousafzai would be treated in Dubai, with a medical jet from the United Arab Emirates on standby to take her abroad, conflicting with the previous report about Germany.With regard to Yousafzai’s health, a source in her hospital told Al Jazeera that she remained in critical condition and had slim chances of recovering, adding that the next 12 hours would be the most important.This contradicted other reports that Yousafzai was making “slow and steady progress”, and had been taken off the ventilator for a short amount of time.From their assessments, it is difficult to determine whether doctors are referring to her survival or the return of her physical and cognitive abilities.

Offers to treat Yousafzai came from around the world, with several from the United States. One offer came from former US Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who had been through similar treatment after she was shot in the head in 2011. Giffords and her husband, Mark E. Kelly, had gone so far as to line up her neurosurgeon, Dr. Dong Kim, the head of neurosurgery at the Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, to travel to Pakistan. Another offer came from the American military hospital at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and another from US Senator John Kerry, who has longstanding political ties to Pakistan.

On 15 October, Yousafzai traveled to the United Kingdom for further treatment, approved by both her doctors and family. Her plane landed in Dubai to refuel and then continued to Birmingham where she is being treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.The decision seemed to make both medical and diplomatic sense. The hospital provided integrated care, and Britain and Pakistan have longstanding ties with a history stretching back to British rule in Pakistan before 1947.Doctors at the hospital reported the next day that Yousafzai is “not out of the woods yet … but at this stage we’re optimistic that things are going in the right direction”.


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