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Am I going to die tonight? Singer Brian Kennedy grateful to be alive after heart attack

Belfast man said he’s had to learn how to walk three times in his life

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Brian Kennedy

Brian Kennedy

Brian Kennedy

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.

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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.”


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