Australian actress fighting for life after suffering a stroke caused by AstraZeneca

24 Oct 2021

  • Melle Stewart, 40, who lives in London, had her first AstraZeneca jab on May 24
  • Two weeks later she suffered a stroke and rushed into emergency brain surgery
  • She was later diagnosed with TTS, the rare side effect that causes blood clots
  • She spent three weeks in a coma and is now relearning how to talk and walk

An Australian actress was fighting for life in ICU after suffering a stroke caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine's rare blood-clotting side effect.

Melle Stewart, 40, received her first dose of the Oxford-made vaccine on May 24 in London, where she lives with her husband, and fellow actor, Ben Lewis.

Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome is a condition involving low blood platelet levels.

Two weeks later after Ms Stewart received the jab, she woke up with a strange feeling on the right side of her body.

As she tried to get out of bed, she collapsed and was rushed to hospital, where her condition quickly deteriorated as she lost all movement in the right side of her body and 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 ended up in ICU, where she was diagnosed with Vaccine-induced Thrombocytopenic Thrombosis, a rare side affect linked to the AstraZeneca jab.

Melle spent three weeks in an induced coma on a ventilator after she suffered a severe stroke, caused by two large clots in the main veins of her brain.

After spending almost five weeks fighting for life in ICU, she was transferred to an Acute Stroke Unit where she started rehabilitation, before being moved to a specialised London hospital on September 8.

The 'fit and healthy' professional actress who had never been in hospital before is now relearning how to talk, walk, and move her right arm and hand, and will remain in hospital into 2022 as she learns to adjust to her new life.

She still takes anti-clotting and anti-seizure medication and will require further surgery to have a titanium plate fitted in her skull to replace the portion removed during a previous operation.

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.'

Born in Queensland, Ms Stewart graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and made a guest appearance on Seven soap Home and Away in 2011.

She is best known for her stage work in Australia and the UK where she has lived for the past nine years.

GoFundMe page has been launched to help on Melle's long road to recovery


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