THE 15-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting girls' education has been discharged from an English hospital to live with her family.
Photographs and a video released by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham show Malala Yousufzai hugging nurses, waving and smiling shyly.
Her steps seemed tentative as she walked down the hospital corridor talking to nurses, the injured side of her face deftly turned from the lenses. But hospital officials say she is strong and recovering well.
Malala will live with her parents and two brothers in the UK while she continues to receive treatment, but will be admitted again in the next month for another round of surgery to rebuild her skull.
Experts have been optimistic that Malala, who was airlifted from Pakistan in October to receive specialised medical care, has a good chance of recovery because the brains of teenagers are still growing and can better adapt to trauma.
"Malala is a strong young woman and has worked hard with the people caring for her to make excellent progress in her recovery," said medical director Dr Dave Rosser.
"Following discussions with Malala and her medical team, we decided that she would benefit from being at home with her parents and brothers."
The Taliban targeted Malala because of her objection to the group's stance that limits girls' access to education. She was returning home from school in Pakistan's Swat Valley on October 9 when the militants shot her for criticising their efforts to keep girls from getting an education.
Her case won worldwide recognition, and the teen became a symbol for the struggle for women's rights in Pakistan. I
In an indication of her reach, she made the shortlist for Time Magazine's 'Person of the Year' for 2012.
Pakistani doctors removed a bullet that entered her head and headed toward her spine. The decision to send Malala to Britain was taken in consultation with her family. Pakistan is paying for her treatment.
Citing patient confidentiality, hospital authorities declined to say what her plans were to continue her education, though they acknowledge she is able to read in both English and Urdu.
In Malala's hometown of Mingora, family and friends were excited to hear of her discharge from the hospital. There were no public celebrations, but her cousins handed out sweets to neighbours.