A Sydney father has shared a heartfelt tribute to his wife who died in her sleep just hours after testing positive to Covid-19.
Healthcare worker Melanie Leffler had received four vaccinations against the virus, but after coming down with a “slightly sore throat and running nose” on November 19, took a rapid Covid test.
The mum-of-two tested positive, but was “feeling fine” before saying goodnight to her family.
Her husband Mick Hogan and their daughters Clemmie, 4, and Lottie, 9 months, had no idea it would be last time they would speak to her.
The 39-year-old tragically died in her sleep that night. Her sudden death left her family reeling.
“It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I have to announce to you this way though social media,” Mick wrote on Facebook.
“My loving wife and the mother of 2 beautiful children, Mel Leffler, sadly passed away in her sleep this morning.
“She tested positive for Covid last night with a rat test, but only had a runny nose and slightly sore throat. Other than that she was feeling fine.”
Melanie’s father Wayne described his daughter as “beautiful, intelligent and loving” person, adding that he and her mother Roz were “deeply shocked and saddened” by her death.
“Roz and I lost our beautiful, intelligent and loving 39 y.o. daughter, Mel, overnight,” he wrote in a poignant Facebook post.
“To say we’re shocked and deeply saddened would be an understatement. Suddenly, nothing else matters in life other than ensuring the support and wellbeing of Mick and our 2 beautiful granddaughters.
“No child should ever pre-decease their parents. It’s just not right.
“I awoke hoping Mel’s passing was just a bad dream. I’ve never felt so low. We’re devastated – things will never be the same.”
Melanie’s cause of death is yet to be confirmed by a coroner’s report, but her brother Kris Leffler firmly believes it was heart-related.
He also revealed that Melanie was inspired to study medical science after a bout of Wilms’ tumour – a rare kidney cancer that primarily affects children – left her with just one kidney.
While dying with Covid does not necessarily mean it was the cause of death, SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes the illness – can have an impact on the heart.
“The SARS-CoV-2 virus can directly invade the body causing inflammation,” University of Sydney medicine professor Garry Jennings explained in The Conversation.
“This can impact the heart, causing myocarditis and pericarditis — inflammation of the heart muscle or outer lining of the heart.
“Inflammation from Covid can also cause blood clotting, which can block a heart or brain artery causing a heart attack or stroke.
“Covid can also cause abnormal heart rhythms, blood clots in the legs and lungs, and heart failure.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to financially support widower Mick and his two daughters, with the page stating “Mel’s beautiful soul will forever live on in her two darling girls”.