PESHAWAR: Doctors termed the next seven to 10 days critical for Malala Yousafzai as she was shifted to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) in Rawalpindi on Thursday.
A medical board of prominent neurosurgeons had earlier opposed her shifting to any other hospital within the country or abroad from the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Peshawar due to the serious head injury that she had suffered in the attack by terrorists in Swat.
The board included Col Dr Junaid, head of the neuro-surgery unit at CMH Peshawar, Prof Dr Mumtaz Khan, head of the neuro-surgery department at the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) Peshawar, and neuro-surgeons Prof Dr Tariq Khan and Dr Tariq Safi. Two senior doctors of the Army Medical Corps were called from Rawalpindi.
Malala was unconscious and was still in a critical condition when she was driven in a white colour ambulance from the CMH and shifted to a military helicopter that flew her to Rawalpindi.
The doctors had conducted surgery on Malala’s head and neck to remove a bullet on Wednesday. They advised complete rest for her in the hospital. Col Dr Junaid, who handled the 14-year-old Malala from the first day after she was shifted to the CMH from Swat, told this correspondent outside the ICU where she was fighting for life, that it was now the unanimous decision of the doctors to transfer her to AFIC Rawalpindi for better care.
“A joint team of doctors from the Pakistan Army and civilians held a meeting and found that the surgery done on Malala in Peshawar was outstanding but felt that she now needed better care. The team said the AFIC was a better place for post-operative care for patients suffering from trauma and head injuries,” Col Dr Junaid said.
He said the two British doctors also expressed satisfaction on Malala’s surgery and congratulated the Pakistani neurosurgeons for doing such an excellent job with limited resources.He said Malala would remain at the paediatric unit of AFIC where foreign doctors would assist Pakistani doctors in her treatment.
Before Malala’s shifting, extraordinary security measures were made in and outside the CMH and the Pakistan Army commandos were seen escorting a brief motorcade of two ambulances and military vehicles.
Malalal’s father Ziauddin Yousafzai, her mother and close relatives and Dr Junaid accompanied her in the military helicopter.Though worried for his patient, Col Dr Junaid said he was optimistic she would recover soon. “It’s a critical injury. We are keeping her on a ventilator,” he said. Asked as to when she would regain consciousness, he said it would require at least 15 days.
The military sources, however, said the decision to shift her to AFIC was taken on the advice of two British doctors called for Malala’s treatment. One of them was identified as Dr Fiona and the other her Pakistan-born husband. The couple visited Malala at the CMH and advised her shifting to the AFIC.
“Fiona has experience in post-operative care in neuro-surgery and head injuries. She and her husband offered their services to Malala and agreed to attend to her if she is taken to the AFIC,” the officials said.
Col Dr Junaid said the British doctors were in Pakistan to attend a seminar and wished to see Malala when they learnt about the tragedy.There were also reports that neuro-surgeons in the United States had also offered their services to assist Pakistani doctors in Malala’s treatment and they and some other doctors from other countries are expected to arrive in Pakistan in the coming days.
Faiz Mohammad, Malala’s maternal uncle, welcomed her shifting to AFIC as it was a better place to deal with medical complications of the heart and kidney, and expressed gratitude to the British lady doctor.
Talking to this reporter on phone from the AFIC, he said the British lady doctor boosted their morale when she came to CMH Peshawar and praised the Pakistani neurosurgeons who conducted the surgery on Malala.
Quoting the British neuro-surgeon, Faiz Mohammad said: “This is a remarkable job. The doctors in the UK would have done it in the same way. This doctor who did this is really a hero.”
Our correspondents/agencies add: Protests were held throughout the country to condemn the attack on Malala which were participated by students, lawyers, social activists and other people belonging to different walks of life, while Yaum-e-Dua will be held today (Friday) for the recovery of the 14-year-old girl.
The atrocious attack was condemned by the MQM chief Altaf Hussain, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira, Punjab Chief Minister Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, Governor Punjab Latif Khosa, the Pakistan ex-Servicemen Association (PESA), Sunni Tehreek and various other personalities and organisations.
Protests were staged by the Sunni Tehreek in Lahore, lawyers’ community across Punjab, female lawyers in Lahore, Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA) and various other organisations.
International outrage also grew on Thursday at the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, with US President Barack Obama leading condemnation of the “disgusting” attack. UN chief Ban Ki-moon also expressed horror at the attack on Malala.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said US forces were ready to offer transport and treatment to the teenager if needed. Obama described the shooting as “reprehensible and disgusting and tragic,” Carney said, amid escalating international anger over the attack.
“Directing violence at children is barbaric, it’s cowardly and our hearts go out to her and the others who were wounded as well as their families.” Ban was “deeply moved” by her campaign for education rights and called for “the perpetrators of this heinous and cowardly act to be swiftly brought to justice,” his spokesman Martin Nesirky said.
European Union foreign policy representative Catherine Ashton earlier condemned the attack as “a vile aggression”. The Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also condemned the attack.
An OIC spokesperson, in a statement, stressed that the organisation was a strong supporter of women’s rights and considered that such an act should not go unpunished and the criminals be brought to justice.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that “I have noted the relevant report” adding China condemns relevant violent attack. Hong further said that his country also expresses sympathies to the injured family.