Tributes as 'wonderful' Portsmouth cancer researcher, 53, dies from Covid-19 leaving behind husband and son

A DEVOTED family is raising funds in memory of a ‘wonderful’ mother who died of Covid-19 aged just 53.

Saturday, 18th September 2021, 4:55 am

‘Brilliant’ Samantha Murray, from Southsea, who ‘wanted to make a difference’ died on September 6 at Queen Alexandra Hospital surrounded by loved ones.

The former University of Portsmouth PhD student contracted coronavirus alongside her husband Silvan Chafiie and son Gabriel, 15, at the end of July.

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Samantha Murray, 53, with her husband Silvan Chafiie and their son Gabriel, 15. Picture: Family

Both she and Silvan were admitted to QA in August. But while Silvan recovered, asthma sufferer Samantha – who chose not to have the coronavirus vaccine for personal reasons – deteriorated.

She was placed into a medically-induced coma in the intensive care unit at the Cosham hospital and died less than a month later.

Husband Silvan, a teacher at Priory School in Southsea, said: ‘I don’t think words can do justice to how we felt when she died.

‘She had no bad qualities. She was loving and generous and she wanted to make a difference in this world.’

Samantha Murray who died of Covid-19 on September 6, 2021.

Family members and friends have already surpassed a £3,000 fundraising target to place a memorial bench along Southsea promenade in honour of Samantha.

Silvan, 44, said: ‘She used to walk our dog Zeus along the seafront everyday.

‘This will be a place of reflection for her family – a place for us to remember her.

‘Anything over £3,000 we’re splitting between her wishes for her ashes to be made into a diamond and to the intensive care unit at QA.

Samantha Murray died of Covid-19 on September 6 at QA Hospital.

‘The staff there did everything they could to help her.’

Samantha’s niece Leighanne, who organised the fundraiser, travelled from her home in Barcelona, Spain, to see her aunt before she died.

The 31-year-old said: ‘She was just the most wonderful person.

‘Beside my mum she was the person I am closest to. She was my aunt but she was like a sister and a friend to me.

‘She just meant everything to me.’

During her time as a senior research fellow at the University of Portsmouth she studied neuro-oncology, looking at brain tumours.

Dr Helen Fillmore, reader in molecular neuropathology and neuro-oncology, and Dr Rhiannon McGeehan, senior lecturer in clinical genetics are both in the university’s neuro-oncology group.

In a joint tribute, they said: ‘Sam was passionate about helping brain tumour patients through her role as senior research fellow and clinical liaison at the University of Portsmouth.

‘She also adored her family. She was kind, and had a fantastic sense of humour and laugh, and will be sorely missed. She was a bright light put out far too soon.’

In 2019 Samantha founded Metis London - a company making storage boxes from recycled ocean plastic.

To donate in her memory visit

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