Nursing student shot in Danforth attack 'still finds the city as beautiful as ever,' family says

A nursing student shot in the spine while rushing to help victims of the mass shooting in Toronto’s Greektown neighbourhood last month is off life support and “can now eat and drink what she likes,” according to her family.

Danielle Kane is now off life support and finally able to go outside the hospital

Kane, 31, spent 11 days in a medically induced coma and underwent multiple operations to fuse two of her vertebrae together, as well as repair damage to her stomach and diaphragm. This photo, taken during her recovery, was uploaded to an online fundraising page for Kane. (GoFundMe)

A nursing student shot in the spine while rushing to help victims of the mass shooting in Toronto's Greektown neighbourhood last month is off life support and "can now eat and drink what she likes," according to her family.

Danielle Kane, 31, was shot as she and her partner, nurse Jerry Pinksen, rushed out of a Danforth Avenue restaurant on the night of July 22 as the sound of gunshots rang in the air. Thirteen people, including Kane, were injured that evening, while two young women — 10-year-old Julianna Kozis and 18-year-old Reese Fallon — were killed.

Of the at least eight bullets fired in the couple's direction, one shattered Kane's T11 vertebra, piercing her stomach and diaphragm. 

According to an update posted Thursday on a GoFundMe page dedicated to raising money for Kane's treatment, she is "off medical support devices, she's on less and less pain medication and can now eat and drink what she likes (she snuck in some A&W yesterday)."

The fundraising campaign was started by Kane's cousin, Byron Abalos.

The post includes a photo of Kane in St. James Park, outside St. Michael's Hospital, where she is being treated.

"She's getting back to [her] regular self and wants to keep moving. She continues to be stunned by all the support she's received and is eager to get back into the world and active again," the post reads.

"She is not afraid. She still finds the city as beautiful as ever."

Kane still does not have feeling below her navel, but could be discharged in a week or two, the post says.

She has a long road of recovery and rehabilitation ahead of her, and fundraising events have been organized across the country to help with her care.

The latest event is a golf tournament in Burlington scheduled for August 20, organized by one of Kane's cousins.

'She's still loving life'

Pinksen, 35, has previously said that doctors believe Kane will either remain in a wheelchair with the use of her arms and torso, or may walk with an aid of some sort.

On Friday, he said her prognosis will become more clear after she begins physiotherapy. Her abdomen is getting stronger, he said, and she can reposition herself using her arms. Kane's pain is also "well-managed," he said.

"I'm blown away by her spirit, her humour, her wanting to get moving again as quickly as possible," Pinksen told CBC Radio's Here and Now. "She's still loving life, she still wants to be active and it's just been great to see that smile on her face again, that smile that I love so much."

Jerry Pinksen and girlfriend Danielle Kane rushed to help victims on Danforth Avenue in Toronto when a gunman opened fire. (Byron Abalos/GoFundMe)

He was nervous about how Kane would react to what happened when she woke from her coma, he said. But they have both been given a huge boost by the overwhelming support of not only their family and friends, but the public, as well.

"She's just been speechless, that's been fuelling the smile, that's been fuelling her faith back in humanity," Pinksen said. "She knows she's lucky to be alive and she wants to get out there and move again."

The Gofundme campaign, which has nearly reached its $200,000 goal, and funds raised through various events, will all go toward ensuring Kane has access to the best physiotherapy treatments and for as long as she needs them, according to Pinksen. Money may also go to any further education Kane wants to pursue, he said.

After the pair met working at Michael Garron Hospital — she was a ward clerk and he was a nurse — Pinksen encouraged her to go back to school to study nursing after learning how keen she was to help people. For instance, Kane had taken a course to specifically learn how to counsel women in crisis, and was always looking to help marginalized people, he said.

"That compassion and that caring, that's why I fell in love with her," he said.

Meanwhile, Pinksen was out in the Danforth community Friday, the beginning of the Taste of the Danforth festival, and urged the public not to be afraid to join the event.

"I know Danielle would not want anyone to not enjoy their weekend and enjoy the festivities because we know that you need to heal and you need to take self-care."

Listen to the full interview with Jerry Pinksen Friday at 5:45 p.m. ET on CBC Radio One 99.1.

With files from Shanifa Nasser, Adam Carter and The Canadian Press