Malala Yousufzai Speaks Publicly for First Time Since being Shot in Head by Taliban
(CNN) — Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban, spoke publicly for the first time in a recent interview with the Associated Press.
“Today you can see that I am alive,” she said. “I can speak. I can see you. I can see everyone.”
Yousafzai was targeted by the Taliban for taking a public stand for girls’ education. After two weekend surgeries, Yousafzai said she’s “feeling all right.” Doctors attached a titanium plate to her skull and implanted a cochlear device to restore hearing to her left ear.
“I’m getting better day by day,” she said. “It’s just because the prayers of people, because all the people—men, women, children, all of them, all of them—have prayed for me. And because of these prayers God has given me this new life.”
With her new life, Yousafzai said she wants to serve.
“I want to serve the people,” she said. “And I want every girl, every child, to be educated.”
She hopes to be fully recovered in about a month.
Yousafzai “has no long-lasting brain injuries” after being shot in the head by Taliban gunmen last October, her brain surgeon, Dr. Anwen White, said Monday.
“She won’t need any further surgery,” White said.
The five-hour operation took place Sunday at a Birmingham hospital. After surgeons attached the titanium plate and inserted the implant, the 16-year-old Malala was “very focused and enthusiastic,” White said.
Shortly after the shooting, Yousafzai’s brain swelled dangerously, so doctors in Pakistan extracted a section of her skull about the size of a hand. Otherwise, the pressure in her cranium would have caused severe brain damage, likely killing her. Doctors then temporarily implanted the skull piece in her abdomen — a common procedure to preserve bone fragments for later use.
The skull piece would have no longer fit properly without the addition of some titanium parts, as her head and the bone fragment have changed.
Titanium also has a low incidence of infection and can be handcrafted to near perfection, doctors said.
On Saturday, before the surgery, Yousafzai credited her survival to “the prayers of the people.”
“Because of these prayers, God has given me this new life and I want to serve and I want every girl, every child to be educated,” she said.
“She’s already talking about furthering her cause,” said the hospital’s medical director, Dr. Dave Rosser. The terrorists have said they will target her again.
Yousafzai had become deaf when gunfire from the attack broke the delicate bones that help turn sound into sensory impulses to the brain.
The cochlear device will not allow her to hear completely naturally, Rosser said. But it will restore enough function to the damaged ear to allow her to hear things such as an approaching car, which obviously is important for safety.
CNN and the AP contributed to this report.