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Agence France-Presse
London, January 30, 2013
Doctors in Britain on Wednesday outlined how they plan to repair a hole in the skull of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban last year for campaigning for girls' education.

Surgeons at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the central English city of Birmingham plan to insert a titanium plate to protect the 15-year-old's brain in an operation in the next 10 days.

"This is, very simply speaking, putting a custom-made titanium plate over the deficit in her skull, primarily to offer physical protection to her brain in the same way as a normal skull would," the hospital's medical director Dave Rosser said.

Malala is completely deaf in her left ear after she was shot at point blank range in the October attack, so surgeons will also insert an electronic device into the ear that should help her hearing return to near-normal levels within 18 months.

Surgeons in Pakistan who were the first to treat Malala before she was brought to Britain inserted the missing section of her skull into her abdomen, but it had eventually been decided not to use the bone.

"The safest way to store that bone, to keep it sterile and healthy, is in the patient's body, so they will make an incision in the skin and tuck it into the abdomen," Rosser said at a press conference.

"Surgeons in consultation with Malala have decided that fitting this titanium plate is a better long-term procedure than trying to re-implant the bone after such a long period of time."

Malala was temporarily discharged by the hospital on January 4 and is currently staying in Birmingham with her parents and siblings, who have joined her in England.

Rosser said Malala was a "remarkable young lady" and despite her ordeal she was determined to continue speaking out for girls' right to education.

"She is very lively, she has a great sense of humour," he said.

"She is not naive at all about what happened to her and the situation she is looking forward to in terms of being a high-profile person, and potentially a high-profile target.

"But she remains incredibly cheerful, incredibly determined and incredibly determined to continue to speak for her cause."

The attack on Malala, by a Taliban gunman who singled her out as she travelled on a school bus in the town of Mingora in Pakistan's northwestern Swat Valley, sparked worldwide condemnation.

She was flown to Britain soon after the attack and taken to the hospital in Birmingham because it has vast experience of treating gunshot injuries sustained by British soldiers in Afghanistan.