Australian actress Melle Stewart suffered a major stroke earlier this year and was left in an intensive care unit fighting for her life after taking the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which led to a rare blood clotting condition.
Stewart, 40, got her first dose of the Oxford-developed vaccine in London, where she lives with husband and actor Ben Lewis, the Daily Mail reported. Two weeks later, she said she awakened with a strange sensation on her right side and collapsed as she tried to get out of bed.
Stewart was rushed to a hospital where her condition worsened significantly, losing any mobility and movement on her entire right side as well as her ability to speak.
Doctors diagnosed her with Vaccine-induced Thrombocytopenic Thrombosis, an exceedingly rare condition that has been linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. She spent three weeks in an ICU bed in an induced coma and on a ventilator following a major stroke that was caused by a pair of clots blocking two main arteries in her brain, the Daily Mail noted.
Five weeks later, the report said, Stewart was moved to an Acute Stroke Unit where she began rehabilitation therapy before being moved to a special hospital in London for such conditions on Sept. 8. The actress is currently relearning how to use her right arm and leg, how to talk again, and how to walk. She is expected to remain in the specialized hospital into 2022, the Daily Mail added.
The outlet noted further that Stewart still takes anti-clotting and anti-seizure medications and needs additional surgery to fit a titanium plate to the skull in order to replace the section that was removed to relieve cranial pressure. What’s more, she will also require more rehab therapies that include occupational, speech, and psychological treatments, and her home will have to be modified to accommodate her new disabilities.
Family members say they hope the actress will become strong enough to travel back to her home country after pandemic-related restrictions are lifted and travel is again permitted.
Despite her ordeal, Stewart remains committed “to be an advocate for vaccination,” the Daily Mail noted.
More than $176,000 out of a goal of $200,000 has been donated to Stewart’s GoFundMe account, leading Lewis to break his silence regarding his wife’s condition.
“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 fundraiser page. “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,” he wrote, adding: “We feel truly blessed and humbled.”
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