Belfast man said he’s had to learn how to walk three times in his life
Belfast singer Brian Kennedy has said he is “so grateful to be alive” after revealing that he almost died from a heart attack.
Speaking to the Irish Mirror, the 55-year-old recounted attending St James’s Hospital in Dublin after suffering chest pains and was saved after undergoing emergency surgery.
In severe pain, he turned to a surgeon and asked: “Am I going to die tonight?”
Doctors stabilised him and within days a team of heart surgeons carried out a quadruple bypass.
That health scare came at the end of June and just as he was nearing the end of heart rehab, the Belfast man contracted Covid-19.
It has been a traumatic number of years for Mr Kennedy, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016 and required life-saving surgery.
In an emotional interview the singer recalled details of the night he came closest to death.
“It was 11.30pm, I had this weird permanent pain,” he said.
"I thought it’s on my right side, not the heart side. But it was painful, uncomfortable, I thought, is this heartburn? I lay down thinking I’ll sleep it off, go get it checked tomorrow but the pain got worse. I thought ‘I’m a bit scared now’.
“I got up again, as I was talking myself out of going, I started getting dressed. The next thought, thankfully I didn’t act on, thinking I’ll take a little sleeping pill.
“Thank God I had none in the house or I could have died in my sleep. I got dressed and walked myself over to A&E in James’s [across the road] from my house.”
He staggered into A&E where he expected to be sent home for indigestion but soon found himself hooked up to monitors and was told, “you’re having a massive heart attack”.
The next morning he was informed that his heart was operating at 30% and within a few days the heart muscle was strong enough for major surgery – a quadruple bypass.
The musician said he feels blessed to be alive. When Covid struck last week, it came as a hammer blow but he managed to recover at home.
“It really is amazing to go through two very life-threatening experiences,” he said.
“The cancer one was a lot slower, but it was a really difficult nine hours of surgery.
“In my lifetime I’ve had to learn how to walk again three times.
“First when I was a teenager, I had calcium disease in my legs, then after the cancer and even after the heart surgery because I was in bed for over a week, I had to learn to walk again.”
Feeling fit and healthy again, Mr Kennedy is back on the road performing, an experience he describes as “life-affirming”. He played in Limerick on Wednesday – his first show since the heart surgery.
He joked: “I flashed my chest scar at the audience. Tonight I play Ballygally, Co Antrim. My gigs are like my medicine, I’m so grateful to be alive.”