MARK Tomlin and Lucy Taberer were excited to get their coronavirus shots to begin planning their wedding and get back to ‘normal’. But instead of a joyous union, Mr Tomlin had to arrange his fiancée’s funeral after she died of complications caused by her AstraZeneca jab.
He said: ‘Lucy’s funeral was on the date we planned to get married, May 4th. She was a Star Wars fan, and that date is special to fans – “May the force (4th) be with you”. The 4th should have been happy for ever but is now filled with sorrow.
‘We’d decided to get married during lockdown; we’d been together seven years.
‘We were really looking forward to getting married, we just hadn’t got round to it before. Now I wish I had.’
Lucy, 47, a mother of three from Leicester, died after suffering a severe blood-clotting adverse reaction to the AstraZeneca jab. The same reaction is believed to have killed BBC presenter Lisa Shaw, 44, and mother of three Tanya Smith, 43.
Italy has just suspended the AZ jab for under-60s after 18-year-old Camilla Canepa, a promising basketball player, developed blood clots and died after her first AstraZeneca vaccination. Inexplicably, the UK still recommends it for over-40s. Latest UK Yellow Card Scheme figures show of the 1,295 deaths reportedly caused by the vaccines the AstraZeneca jab is responsible for 863, or two-thirds.
Mark Tomlin, 57, is bereft. He said: ‘Lucy was so excited to get the vaccine, she couldn’t wait. I’d had mine a few weeks earlier, I had the Pfizer, so when Lucy got a text to say she could have hers, she didn’t hesitate.
‘She was a playgroup leader and wanted to protect the kids she cared for. She also had two step-grandchildren born during lockdown, now six months old and five months old, and she couldn’t wait to give them a cuddle.
‘She’d only seen them when they visited in the car and she didn’t want to touch them in case she gave them Covid. She didn’t have Covid, none of the family have had it. She had been really strict during lockdown, not allowing anyone into the house.
‘We’d kept our son Orson, five, from starting school last September, to keep him safe. So, taking the vaccine was her chance to start seeing friends and family properly again.
‘She was looking forward to Orson starting school, but she didn’t see his first day. It was two days after she died. She would have been so proud of him.’
Miss Taberer’s family said she had no underlying health conditions and described her as ‘healthy, full of life and loved by everybody.’ Mr Tomlin, a metal worker, said, ‘I know everyone says that, but it really was true in Lucy’s case. She was a lay preacher before we got together, she loved reading and read a different book every day. She had a beautiful singing voice, she loved arts and crafts and crocheted lovely baby blankets.
‘If we were walking the 100 yards to our local shop it would take 20 minutes because people would want to stop and talk to her.
‘I once saw her at work reading a story to the kids. They were all sitting round her, and they were spellbound. She loved children and she would do anything to help anyone.’
Miss Taberer received the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday March 19 at a vaccine pop-up clinic in the car park of the Peepul Centre in Leicester. Her stepdaughter Leanne Tomlin, 33, said: ‘It was very quick, they didn’t ask her many questions and she was given a leaflet that said she might experience headaches, a sore arm and a fever. She was told if they lasted too long to go to the doctor.’
Miss Taberer experienced mild side effects immediately after the jab but by Monday March 29 they became more serious, although she did not think her symptoms were connected to the vaccination.
Mr Tomlin said: ‘She started to feel poorly and had a pain in her side. I went with her to the GP, and they thought she might have kidney stones.
‘Then a big bruise appeared on her arm and she was really fatigued and felt nauseous. She was full of energy usually but had to take an afternoon nap on the sofa. She was really scared, not knowing what was going on and because if felt so serious. She said, “Mark, I feel dreadful.”
‘She tried hard to hide it and just get on with things, but she took photos of a rash on her face and neck to send to the doctor.
‘A rash then appeared on her side which her mum and the hospital thought was measles, then her gums began turning black.’
On Thursday April 1, the 111 call service advised her to go to hospital after seeing pictures of her rashes. Mr Tomlin rushed her to Leicester Royal Infirmary with blood clots, bruising and swelling to her face and other serious complications including mini strokes. Her blood platelets dropped as low as 2 parts per mcl when they should have been between 150,000 to 400,000 per mcl.
Doctors were baffled and thought she had meningitis, sepsis, or the autoimmune blood disorder lupus.
Leanne Tomlin said: ‘They said they had never seen anything like it. They tried everything to save her and gave her blood thinners and daily blood transfusions. The transfusions would raise her platelets for a bit then they would drop back down again.’
On Thursday April 8, Miss Taberer suffered a serious stroke and was moved to ITU at Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham. Doctors desperately tried to save her life with non-invasive and invasive procedures.
Ms Tomlin said: ‘They tried to break up the blood clots with drugs that dissolve them. Then she had surgery on her brain to relieve the pressure caused by blood clots there. Her brain was so badly swollen it began to ooze out of the incision. It was then they knew that they couldn’t save her.’
A final stroke ended her life on Saturday April 10 after the surgery. Her death certificate states the cause of death as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis and vaccine associated thrombosis with thrombocytopenia, which is a blood clot on the brain and extremely low blood platelet count.
Mark Tomlin was not allowed to be with his fiancée’ in hospital because of Covid measures. He said: ‘I sent her 20 texts a day saying keep your spirits up, hurry up and get better. I was trying to keep it all together and desperate to see her. For ten days we were kept apart and I’m really angry about that.
‘The last time I spoke to her was Wednesday April 7. She sounded drunk and I now know that was because of the strokes.
‘The following night she sent me a text saying, “bored but alive” and that was the last communication we had.
‘After the surgery, they called me to say come and say goodbye. They switched off the life support machines, and she survived for about ten minutes. I held her hand and just kept telling her “I love you, I’ll look after Orson, don’t do this, please come home.”’
After her death, Mr Tomlin had to explain to their son what had happened to his mother. He said: ‘I’d already told him that mummy had gone into hospital because she needed medicine. Then I told him that the medicine hadn’t worked, and that mummy couldn’t come home then a couple of days later I told him that she had died.
‘He didn’t really take it in, and it wasn’t until her funeral that he really understood what was happening. Because everyone was so upset and were crying at the crematorium, he finally burst into tears.’
Miss Taberer was cremated at Gilroes Cemetery and Crematorium in Leicester on May 4. Thirty mourners were allowed in while more than 100 stood outside.
The family are in financial difficulty because of Miss Taberer’s death. Mr Tomlin’s take-home pay was the minimum wage and Miss Taberer earned £135 per month working part time. Mr Tomlin said: ‘We didn’t need much, and we just about had enough. My workplace have been brilliant and have said that I can reduce my hours to fit in with school and look after Orson. But that also means I’ve lost half my pay.’
Leanne Tomlin has set up a GoFundMe page to help her father and half-brother and has so far raised £8,756 which will help with any future childcare costs and things that Orson needs.
Mr Tomlin said: ‘No amount of money in the world can compensate for losing Lucy. She was my soulmate, and I will miss her every day for the rest of my life.’