A British graduate has died in her sleep while on a ‘trip of a lifetime’ to Australia.
Chantelle Madonia, who suffered from a heart condition, was five months into a year abroad after completing a master’s degree in global governance.
The 23-year-old died in her bed in Sydney as a result of atrial septal defect, more commonly referred to as a hole in the heart.
Her devastated mother Lisa, of Llanishen, Cardiff, said it was ‘comforting’ to know that Chantelle ‘died living her dream’.
Chantelle Madonia, who suffered from a heart condition, was five months into a year abroad in Sydney after completing a master’s degree in global governance
Chantelle (pictured with her younger sister Isobel) had been paying for her travel costs by working as a waitress in Sydney and hoped to work in cyber security after returning to the UK
‘She was loving life there,’ she added. ‘She worked hard so she could take sight-seeing trips and adventures around the country.
‘She’d been enjoying the wildlife trips especially. The trip had been her dream for a long time and was her reward to herself after completing her master’s degree.
‘Chantelle was an amazing girl and a fantastic daughter. I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t smiling.
‘She wanted to travel the world and she did. She loved meeting new people. She said the people she met in Australia were like a family to her.’
Chantelle had been paying for her travel costs by working as a waitress in Sydney and hoped to work in cyber security after returning to the UK.
Mrs Madonia said her heart problems had first been revealed in 2012, after doctors detected a murmur.
Chantelle had planned to spend a year in Australia after previously travelling to Thailand and Nepal
Her devastated mother Lisa (pictured right) said it was ‘comforting’ to know that Chantelle ‘died living her dream’
Atrial septal defect: Condition which causes a ‘hole in the heart’
Atrial septal defect is a congenital heart condition that sufferers are born with although the cause is unknown.
The condition usually means that there is a hole in the upper chambers of the heart, which means that the oxygen-rich and the oxygen-poor blood, instead of being kept separate, are allowed to mix and flow from the heart to the body and lungs.
Children with ASD only show mild symptoms but can be prone to more chest infections and can sometimes cause breathlessness and a heart murmur.
Some small defects just require close monitoring as they can sometimes close on their own.
However, larger holes require surgery to correct the defect, although after surgery, most children do not need further operations, and go on to lead normal healthy lives.
If not repaired, the ASD may increase the risk for other problems, including heart failure.
Chantelle’s aunt Ellie Tomlin said said thousands of pounds have since been raised to go towards funeral costs.
She added: ‘Chantelle was so full of life and loved to travel. She always supported her friends and family and was always thinking and worrying about others.
‘Every picture you see of her Chantelle always had a smile and that’s what comforts us. She was very strong-minded. She was very ambitious.
‘We knew Chantelle was popular but we’ve had so many people want to help us, not just with fundraising but also coming to the house.
‘We never thought this would happen but she just inspired so many people.’
Chantelle had planned to spend a year in Australia after previously travelling to Thailand and Nepal.
Ms Tomlin added: ‘She had friends from all over the world and we’ve had messages from people she met in different countries. It’s just been phenomenal.’
More than £8,000 has been raised to go towards funeral costs. There are plans to donate any extra money raised to the British Heart Foundation.
A fundraising page says: ‘All we want to do is to celebrate the courageous, outgoing, wonderful life she lived in such a small space of time.’
Chantelle’s aunt Ellie Tomlin said said thousands of pounds have since been raised to go towards funeral costs