A Hamilton leukaemia sufferer who received a surprise 20th-birthday visit in hospital from singer Ed Sheeran has died.

In 2014, Jess Knight bought tickets to see her favourite entertainer in action but couldn't attend because she was recovering from a bone-marrow transplant and undergoing intensive chemotherapy.

A friend set up a Facebook page inviting the British star to visit Ms Knight in hospital on his next visit to New Zealand, last April.

The page was shared by hundreds of people across Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.


On Ms Knight's 20th birthday, Sheeran surprised her in Auckland City Hospital.

The visit made headlines around the world.

Ms Knight later wrote on Facebook: "I would just like to say a huge thank you to you guys. Thank you so much for all the sharing and hash tagging you guys did. You all helped make my birthday the best ever because, guess what!? We did it!!! Ed came and visited it! He was such a lovely guy! Really genuine and down to earth. I couldn't stop smiling! Thank you again! You will never know how much it meant to me!"

Ms Knight died this week.

As news of her death reached her friends, tributes began to appear on Facebook.
"You never got to turn 21. But you're wiser, funnier and smarter than most people I know," said one friend.

"I love how I got to spend so many hours just talking with you. Laughing about stupid things, making big plans... you were so silly and funny too, despite having so much of a burden.

"Anyone who was lucky enough to have you in their life has lost someone who is truly beautiful from the inside out. Throughout everything, you inspired me. You make me want to live a life I'm proud of."

Sheeran has yet to comment on Ms Knight's death. Last month, he announced on social media that he was "taking a break" from his phone, emails and all social media.

"I've had such an amazing ride over the last five years but I find myself seeing the world through a screen and not my eyes, so I'm taking this opportunity of me not having to be anywhere or do anything, to travel the world and see everything I missed."