Melle Stewart was a hugely successful actress. Now she has a piece of titanium the size of her hand lodged in her skull.
An Australian theatre star and vaccination advocate is suing pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, claiming that a life-threatening stroke left her unable to work after taking the company’s vaccine.
Melle Stewart, 42, is known for her acting in both the UK and Australia, including playing the lead in the musical Mamma Mia! and Channel 7’s Home and Away.
Ms. Stewart received her first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on May 24, 2021.
Two weeks later, she began having seizures, lost her ability to speak, and lost all movement on the right-hand side of her body.
Brain surgeons diagnosed her with Vaccine-Induced Thrombocytopenic Thrombosis (VITT), a blood-clotting condition that the manufacturer and the regulators now acknowledge as a “very rare side effect” of this particular vaccine.
She underwent multiple procedures and rigorous therapy, including craniectomy, a three-hour operation to remove a portion of her skull to reduce the pressure in her brain and keep her alive.
Surgeons have since replaced that part of her skull with a titanium plate the size of her hand.
‘Linked to the Vaccine’
From the start, the doctors “were running the hypothesis that this was linked to the vaccine,” said Ms. Stewart’s husband, Ben Lewis.
“It was a relatively new diagnosis. But Melle had zero medical history. She was so healthy. She looked after her body like a temple. After all that was her job. She had never even been in hospital before,” he said.
Despite this, blood tests conducted by a haematologist revealed specific markers to confirm the vaccine as the cause.
Ms. Stewart exhibited low blood platelet levels and clotting issues, necessitating five blood transfusions within four days.
The couple had never had COVID-19 to their knowledge, but the theatre industry had been shut down during the pandemic, so they believed that mass vaccination was a crucial step in bringing back audiences.