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Natasha McShane One Year Later: Setbacks in Recovery

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 18, 2011 2:00PM

Natasha McShane pictured with the Irish prime minister Brian Cowen in 2009 (RPS Group), via
A year ago, Natasha McShane was savagely beaten with a baseball bat during a Bucktown mugging. She seemed well on her way to recovery when her parents brought her home to Northern Ireland for more medical attention. But McShane's father, Liam, tells the Sun-Times that his daughter has had to deal with a series of setbacks since and her recovery has actually regressed.

Liam McShane said the setbacks started almost immediately after returning home. Doctors at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast discovered that the portion of Natasha McShane's skull that was placed in a pocket in her abdomen had shrunk by 30 percent by the time surgeons decided to re-graft it to the rest of her skull, making up the loss with "glue and plates and screws." Shortly after the operation, an infection set in, requiring another operation to remove the bone and two months of antibiotics.

Natasha McShane has also had to deal with seizures, had shunts inserted into her brain to relieve fluid buildup, loss of strength in her arms and can no longer walk or speak outside of one word — "sinn," Gaelic for "we" or "us."

Liam McShane wasn't trying to lay blame for his daughter's condition on anyone when he spoke with the Sun-times, but he did spend a lot of time second-guessing his family's decision to bring her back home to Northern Ireland. He noted the major differences in how involved the family was in Natasha's physical therapy and their ability to always be at her side in Chicago, versus the care she's currently under in Northern Ireland. Another difference was in the types of insurance coverage for Natasha McShane. Here in Chicago, she was covered under travel insurance versus Northern Ireland's nationalized health care. John Colbert, who's been doing pro-bono work for the McShanes since Natasha was beaten, believes insurance considerations were a factor in transferring her home to Belfast.