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Chicago attack student Natasha Mcshane comes home

By Lesley-Anne Henry

For the past three months she has been fighting for her life thousands of miles from those who love her most. But now Natasha McShane is back home.

The Co Armagh student, who was savagely beaten with a baseball bat during a street robbery in Chicago, was moved to Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital at the weekend and is said to be making “remarkable” progress.

In a statement released last night, the 23-year-old’s relieved family said she had been flown from the US to Dublin by air ambulance before being driven across the border and is preparing to undergo a major operation to remodel part of her skull later this week.

“Natasha will undergo ‘crainioplasty’ procedure this week, and following her recuperation will recommence her rehabilitation programme in nearby specialised unit,” the statement said.

“Encouraged and comforted by her family and friends, we are hopeful that Natasha’s progress will soon see her make that final journey back to her home in south Armagh.

“Natasha has made significant progress since those dreadful, dark days of April when she was left to die under the viaduct on Damen Avenue.

“From her initial days at Masonic Hospital, her stay at Northwestern and then on to her six weeks of rehabilitation at the RIC, she has bravely endured a long and uncertain journey. However, with remarkable courage and spirit, along with state-of-the-art medical treatment and excellent hands-on care, Natasha has achieve remarkable results.

“Now, Natasha, the pretty girl we all knew so well, has returned. She is eating and walking with assistance and has also started to say some words. More importantly, she recognised and hugs her loved-ones and friends.

“However, while the strides forwards have been formidable, she still has a long way to go.

“Her peripheral vision continues to remain impaired and her cognitive function and speech require long and intensive rehabilative therapy. Her doctors still maintain that her final prognosis is uncertain,” her family said.

The Silverbridge student was attacked on her way home from a night out with friend Stacy Jurich on April 23. Both women were struck across the head with a baseball bat by a thief who stole their purses, which contained just $45 (£31).

Natasha spent two weeks in intensive care while her parents, younger sister and aunt flew out to America to maintain a bedside vigil.

Over the past couple of days the rest of the family, including her grandmother Bernadette McShane, have been making the trip from Silverbridge to Belfast to wish Natasha well.

“I went to see her on Sunday,” Mrs McShane said.

“We’re very pleased to have her so close to home. She’s coming on very well.”

In Chicago people were so appalled at the crime that they organised dozens of fundraisers to support the family and help pay massive medical bills.

It has been estimated that around $400,000 was raised and her much-anticipated return home come’s a month after Chicago staged a Natasha McShane Day on June 13.

The statement added: “Natasha is now at a point where further progress will be slow and will likely require many more months of intensive, methodical therapy.”

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