UK surgeons fight to save the life of Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai,the 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban in retaliation for campaigning on her blog for improved education for young girls, is to be treated at a British hospital after offers flooded in from around the world. Malala was savagely shot in the head by two men on her school bus for daring to publish her thoughts.

Surgeons at New Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, which has a trauma ward to cater for British personnel wounded in Afghanistan, will use their expertise to save her life; she needs to have bones in her skull repaired or replaced, and the Pakistani government is footing the medical bill for Malala and her party.

It makes me so proud to be British, to know that our surgeons are amongst the best in the world and have the skills which could save the life of this young girl, and that we can provide international aid during medical emergencies like this.

It reminds me of when I recently met Emma Scanlan, CEO of the charity Chain of Hope, which provides surgery for children suffering from life-threatening heart disease in remote parts of the world which they do not have access.  Some of our leading surgeons work with this excellent charity, including Francis Wells, a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at Papworth Hospital, who was one of the key speakers at a cancer screening in the workplace launch which I was promoting.

Francis was heading off to Ethiopia a couple of days after the event to use his skills on behalf of the charity, whose president is the world famous Sir Magdi Yacoub. Emma came to the launch venue to meet Francis and run through his schedule. He would be working in the most primitive conditions, performing heart surgery on children who would not stand a chance of survival without his goodwill and skill, and the dedication of Emma and her hard working fundraisers to make it all happen.

We are a nation of great British surgeons, and it is wonderful to know that as a result of our philanthropy, our doctors can save the lives of young people around the world too, whether these young patients who are dangerously ill like Malala come to us, or our generous hearted surgeons travel to their far flung destination.