Australian actress Melle Stewart was fighting for her life in intensive care after suffering a stroke caused by a rare blood-clotting side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Daily Mail reported.
Melle Stewart, 40, was given her first dose of the Oxford-made vaccine on May 24 in London, where she lives with her husband, actor Ben Lewis.
Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome is a condition characterized by low blood platelet levels, with 156 cases reported in Australia. Of those, eight Australians have died as a result of developing blood clots after receiving their AstraZeneca jab.
Two weeks after getting vaccine, Melle Stewart suffered a stroke
Melle Stewart awoke two weeks after receiving the jab with a strange feeling on the right side of her body.
She collapsed while attempting to get out of bed and was rushed to the hospital, where her condition quickly deteriorated as she lost all movement in the right side of her body as well as her ability to speak.
‘She began having seizures and was taken by ambulance to St George’s Hospital where neurosurgeons battled to save her life, removing a large part of her skull to reduce the pressure in her brain,’ relative Danae wrote in a GoFundMe page.
The performer was taken to the intensive care unit and diagnosed with Vaccine-induced Thrombocytopenic Thrombosis, a rare side effect associated with the AstraZeneca jab.
Melle Stewart spent three weeks on a ventilator in an induced coma after suffering a severe stroke caused by two large clots in her brain’s main veins.
After nearly five weeks in ICU fighting for her life, she was transferred to an Acute Stroke Unit where she began rehabilitation before being transferred to a specialized London hospital on September 8.
The Australian actress is now relearning how to talk, walk
The ‘fit and healthy’ professional actress, who had never been in the hospital before, is now relearning how to talk, walk, and move her right arm and hand, and will be in the hospital until 2022 as she adjusts to her new life.
Melle Stewart is still on anti-clotting and anti-seizure medication, and she will need more surgery to have a titanium plate fitted in her skull to replace the portion removed during a previous procedure.
Melle Stewart will require ongoing rehabilitation therapy costs such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and psychological therapy.
Before she is released from the hospital, the couple’s home will also need to be modified.
The family is still optimistic. Ms Stewart plans to return to Australia when she is well enough and the pandemic allows for a safe passage.
Melle Stewart ‘continues to be an advocate for vaccination’ despite her harrowing side effects.
Ms Stewart’s family and friends have rallied around her and her husband, both of whom are described as fiercely independent and private.
Lewis has been his wife’s sole source of support throughout the ordeal, having been separated from family on the other side of the world due to Australia’s closed international borders during the pandemic.
Lewis is still by his wife’s side and will not be returning to the stage anytime soon.
A GoFundMe page launched to help her on her long road to recovery
Within four days, a fundraiser launched to assist Melle and her husband financially on her long road to recovery had raised nearly $165,000 of its $200,000 goal.
Lewis has broken his silence about his wife’s ordeal due to the outpouring of generosity and support.
‘I just want to say an enormous thank you to each and every one of you from the bottom of our hearts,’ he wrote on the online fundraiser.
‘To be honest, the past couple of days since the page went live have been completely overwhelming for both of us.
‘I will do my best to thank you all personally but please know that the support you have all shown has given Melle such a boost and reminded us of the power of love, friendship, and community in a time when the world has never felt so big.
‘We feel truly blessed and humbled.’
Other family members have opened up in recent days on Ms Stewart’s private health battle.
‘She has pulled through, but her life is forever changed,’ Ms Stewart’s brother-in-law, opera singer and actor Alexander Lewis wrote on Facebook.
‘It’s hard to believe that someone as vibrant as Melle, who has worked on stages around the world and recorded numerous audio books is now learning to walk and talk again.
‘Melle and my brother Ben will need a lot of emotional and financial support along her journey.’
Who is Melle Stewart?
Melle Stewart, who was born in Queensland, graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and made a guest appearance on the Seven soap opera Home and Away in 2011.
She is best known for her stage performances in Australia and the United Kingdom, where she has lived for the past nine years.
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