London: The British doctor, who led the team of surgeons to save the life of Malala Yousafzai, has spoken out for the first time, saying the teenager deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for her courage.
The Pakistani schoolgirl was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen exactly one year ago, on October 9, 2012, and wanted the world to know about Fiona Reynolds` role in her survival.
She finally revealed the details in her memoirs, `I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By The Taliban`, released this week.
"I met Malala as a doctor and I`m bound by an oath not to talk about her. She asked everyone to be named in her book, and I didn`t want to be named, but Malala said the book had to be the truth. She wants her real story to be out there," Reynolds said here today.
"I`m biased. I think she deserves the Nobel Peace Prize but it`s up to the committee to decide," she said in reference to Malala being the frontrunner for the award announcement expected on Friday.
The doctor was visiting Pakistan with several colleagues to advise on transplant surgery when she saw TV reports about how the then 15-year-old teenager had been targeted for promoting girls` education in Swat Valley region there.
Pakistani officials asked Reynolds to visit the hospital in Peshawar where Malala was being treated.
"She was very ill. She was close to death. In Peshawar, her father had been told by the Pakistani doctors, before I arrived, to pray for her and he took it to mean she was dying and he started to make preparations for her funeral," Reynolds recalls.
The initial surgery on Malala was a success, but poor intensive care facilities meant she would probably suffer brain damage or even die.
Reynolds helped supervise as Malala was flown by the Army from Peshawar to Rawalpindi, and then helped treat her in the critical hours after she arrived.
"The facilities for rehabilitation were not well developed. My opinion was if you want the best outcome for her, send her overseas for rehabilitation," she said.
It was Reynolds who recommended Malala be flown to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where she underwent a series of surgeries that ultimately led to her full recovery.
However, the doctor is still determined not to share the spotlight.
"All of this world of celebrity and what she does is really important, but I have a job to do here and it`s not my world. I don`t want to deal with all that celebrity," said Reynolds, who agreed to speak now only on Malala`s insistence.
Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, also concurs, describing Malala as "an example to the world".
"She has no parallel in the world right now. Malala was just one little girl sharing her thoughts, on her blog and on Twitter. But a single bullet changed her destiny forever," he added.