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Malala leaves hospital ahead of major surgery

LONDON: The British hospital treating Malala Yousufzai said on Friday that she had been temporarily discharged ahead of a major surgery on her skull. Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham said it was delighted with Malala’s progress and that she would stay at her family’s nearby temporary home before undergoing the surgery in a few weeks.

“Malala Yousufzai was discharged from Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham as an inpatient yesterday to continue her rehabilitation at her family’s temporary home in the West Midlands,” the hospital said in a statement.

“The 15-year-old, who was shot by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ education, is well enough to be treated by the hospital as an outpatient for the next few weeks.” In an attack that shocked the world, Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban hitman as her school bus made its way through the town of Mingora in October.

The bullet grazed her brain, coming within centimetres of killing her, travelling through her head and neck before lodging in her left shoulder. Malala was airlifted to the specialist Queen Elizabeth Hospital days after the attack but had to fight off an infection in the path of the bullet and recover her strength before surgery.

“She is still due to be re-admitted in late January or early February to undergo cranial reconstructive surgery as part of her long-term recovery,” the hospital said. “In the meantime she will visit the hospital regularly to attend clinical appointments.”

Video released by the hospital showed Malala wearing a grey dress and cream patterned headscarf as she walked out of her ward, waving to staff as a nurse led her by the hand. Photographs showed her hugging a nurse at the doors. The hospital said Malala had been regularly leaving the hospital over the past couple of weeks to visit her family at home.

“Following discussions with Malala and her medical team, we decided that she would benefit from being at home with her parents and two brothers,” said the hospital’s medical director Dave Rosser. He added that medics would be visiting Malala at home ahead of her return to hospital for surgery.

“Malala is a strong young woman and has worked hard with the people caring for her to make excellent progress in her recovery,” said Rosser.

Malala’s father Ziauddin Yousufzai has accepted a three-year role as Pakistan’s education attache at its consulate in Birmingham, making it more likely that the family will remain in Britain long-term.

His daughter first rose to prominence aged just 11 with a blog for the BBC’s Urdu-language service charting her life in Swat under the Taliban, whose two-year reign of terror supposedly came to an end there with an army operation in 2009.

Her attempted murder has sparked calls for her to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, while the United Nations announced a global “Malala Day” in November in support of her campaign for girls’ education.

Pakistan is paying for her treatment at the Queen Elizabeth hospital, which specialises in treating British soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.