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 an extremely rare condition involving low blood platelet levels and only 156 cases of the illness have been reported from nearly 13million doses of AstraZeneca administered in Australia. 

Of those, only 8 have died, and it's still unclear whether those could be attributed to underlying conditions. 

The chances of suffering this rare side effect are very low and occur in around 4-6 people in every million after being vaccinated, according to the Australian government website.

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.

Actress Melle Stewart (pictured with husband Ben Lewis) suffered rare side effects to the AstraZeneca vaccine

Actress Melle Stewart (pictured with husband Ben Lewis) suffered rare side effects to the AstraZeneca vaccine

'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.

The popular actress (pictured in rehab) now has a long journey to recovery ahead of her

The popular actress (pictured in rehab) now has a long journey to recovery ahead of her

Ms Stewart will need a series of ongoing rehabilitation therapy costs including physio, occupational, speech, and psychological therapy.

The couple's home will also require modifications before she's released from hospital.

The family remain hopeful Ms Stewart will one day travel back to Australia when she's strong enough and the pandemic allows for a safe passage home.

Despite her harrowing side effects, Ms Stewart 'continues to be an advocate for vaccination'.

Family and friends have rallied around Ms Stewart and her husband, who are both described as fiercely independent and private.

Lewis has been his wife's sole pillar of support throughout the ordeal, separated from family stuck on the other side of the world during the pandemic due to Australia's closed international borders.

The couple won't be returning to the stage any time soon as Lewis continues to be by his wife's side.

Melle Stewart described getting first jab on May 24 as a 'happy day'. She was rushed to hospital two weeks later

Melle Stewart described getting first jab on May 24 as a 'happy day'. She was rushed to hospital two weeks later

fundraiser launched to help Melle and her husband financially on her long road to recovery ahead has so far raised almost $165,000 of its $200,000 goal within four days.

The outpouring of generosity and support has prompted Lewis to break his silence on his wife's ordeal.

'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.'

It will be some time before Melle Stewart (pictured) returns to the stage following her life-changing ordeal

It will be some time before Melle Stewart (pictured) returns to the stage following her life-changing ordeal

Family and friends around the world have rallied around Melle (pictured in hospital)

Family and friends around the world have rallied around Melle (pictured in hospital)

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.'

AstraZeneca has been linked to extremely rare blood clotting disorder.

Eight Australians have died as a result of developing blood clots after receiving their AstraZeneca jab.

Out of more than 12.6 million doses administrated in Australia, 156 cases of TTS have been recorded.

Melle Stewart (pictured in hospital) will require more surgery in the coming months

Melle Stewart (pictured in hospital) will require more surgery in the coming months

An online fundraiser has raised almost $165,000 as Melle's long road to recovery in rehabilitation continues

An online fundraiser has raised almost $165,000 as Melle's long road to recovery in rehabilitation continues

In comparison to contracting the virus, the chance of death is about 1.8 per cent with 1,450 fatalities in Australia from 130,000 cases.

The risk of dying from Covid-19 is 22,000 times higher than suffering fatal side-effects from the vaccine, 550 times higher than the risk of being killed on Australia's roads.

British data suggests that the risk of TTS is much lower with a second dose.

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. 

Melle Stewart (right) has spent the last nine years working in the UK. She's pictured in the role as Alice in the 2015 production of  'A Damsel in Distress'

Melle Stewart (right) has spent the last nine years working in the UK. She's pictured in the role as Alice in the 2015 production of  'A Damsel in Distress'

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