The 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head last week by the Taliban has been airlifted to the U.K. for emergency medical treatment.
Malala Yousafzai, who has spent the last week in a military hospital in Pakistan, was flown via air ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where she will receive specialist treatment for her fractured skull, reports the BBC. “The panel of doctors recommended that Malala be shifted abroad to a U.K. center which has the capability to provide integrated care to children who have sustained severe injury,” the Pakistani military said in a statement Monday.
Yousafzai has received many international offers of medical assistance, including several overtures from the U.S. — including one from the surgeon who operated on Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head in 2011, reports the New York Times.
Ultimately, however, it was decided Yousafzai would head to the Birmingham for “long-term rehabilitation including intensive neuro rehabilitation,” paid for by the Pakistani government, said the military. Yousafzai’s condition, while critical, has improved somewhat in recent days, and it was decided to transfer her “before any unforeseen complications had set in.”
It is not known whether Yousafzai was accompanied by her father, a school master, on the flight, though she was attended by a full medical team, reports the BBC.
The young activist, who captured global attention for her spirited defence of education and girls’ rights, was targeted last Tuesday by Taliban gunmen as she returned home from school in the northwestern Swat Valley. Her plight has transfixed Pakistan, where a thousands-strong vigil was held on Sunday in Karachi. Meanwhile, despite a bounty of $100,000 on his head offered by the Pakistani government, the man believed to have carried out the shooting has not yet been captured.
Yousafzai is not the first young victim of conflict to be treated in the U.K.. In 2003, 12-year-old Iraqi boy Ali Abbas was flown to Queen Mary’s Rehabilitation Center in London after losing both his arms in a U.S. bombing that killed his parents. Abbas was fitted with prosthetic limbs paid for by the Kuwaiti government.
PHOTOS: Confrontation in the Swat Valley