Irish student Natasha McShane, a victim of a savage baseball bat attack in Chicago, has begun to walk, use her arms, talk and even eat solid food having spent over a month in a coma due to brain swelling.
According to her grandmother, Bernadette, this week she heard her say “hello” for the first time since the attack. Speaking on the phone from Northern Ireland, her grandmother said she was overwhelmed by her granddaughter’s progress.
She said, “It was absolutely marvelous. I can't explain it. ... Anyone who knows Natasha knows that anything she goes to do she puts in 110 percent…That's the type of girl she is. She's been working very hard to overcome those difficulties.”
McShane’s family has maintained a vigil at her bedside at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where she has been since May 14.
They say that every day she is able to speak more words, and she has begun to eat solid foods. Her grandmother said that early this week she was able to take her first sip of tea.
Since the savage attack in Bucktown, Chicago, her grandmother has maintained that if anyone could recover from such injuries, McShane could. However, her prognosis remains uncertain.
A statement released from the rehabilitation facility said, “Today, she is walking with assistance, has started to use her arms for functional tasks and has begun to talk.”
The respiration tube which had been helping her breathe has now been removed. The statement said, “She is now breathing completely on her own."
As of yet, it is unknown how long it will take for McShane to return to her home, Silverbridge, County Armagh, or how long it will take for her to recover fully.
Bernadette said, “We are mindful that the road ahead of her will be long and hard... Nevertheless we are extremely hopeful that we will eventually get our beautiful daughter back to a place where she will be able to lead a full, meaningful and independent life.”
McShane’s mother, Sheila said, “We’re optimistic. She’s making progress.” McShane’s parents also thanked Chicagoans who have rallied around the family to help pay for her hospital bills.
This weekend two major fundraising events will take place at the Irish American Heritage Center (4626 North Knox) and at Gaelic Park (6119 West 147th Street. Oak Forest). This Sunday in Chicago is being called “Natasha McShane Day”.
Heriberto Viramontes, 30, and Marcy Cruz, 25, have been charged on 25 indictments including attempted murder and aggravated assault. Viramontes beat McShane, and her friend Stacy Jurich, with a baseball bat before robbing them and leaving them for dead.
Last week they pleaded not guilty despite the huge amount of evidence connecting them to the crime. They will appear in court on July 7.
To help with McShane’s hospital bills visit helpnatasha.net.
Millions more Irish birth, marriage and death records free online