Belfast Telegraph

Undertones drummer Billy Doherty shares ‘bizarre’ mini-stroke ordeal

By Staff Reporter

Undertones drummer Billy Doherty has spoken of his path to recovery after suffering a heart attack - and a mini-stroke just five days later.

The Derry man feared he would never play again with the iconic band after the medical emergency last December. After feeling unwell following a gig in Dublin, the drummer sought medical help and was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry where he had surgery to have two stents fitted.

Five days later, as he was recovering from the emergency heart operation, Mr Doherty began to feel ill again.

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle, he said: "That morning I knew something wasn't correct. I was with a friend and couldn't understand what he was saying. When I was responding I was really struggling for the words.

"I thought it was bizarre, I thought I was having a heart attack again."

He phoned 999 and rapid response paramedics told him he was having a TIA, also known as a mini-stroke.

"Your system just shuts down so quickly. They were asking me my name, but I couldn't remember. I couldn't remember what month it was or where I lived.

"Your brain knows exactly but it doesn't come out," he told Radio Foyle.

He paid tribute to the skill of the medical staff who looked after him and helped him on the road to recovery - and the support he received from friends and family .

Medics have now cleared the Undertone to get behind his drum kit again. He is set to the stage this weekend at the Big Feastival in England's Cotswolds with the band he and his pals formed in their home town 44 years ago.

Speaking to Metro newspaper, Doherty said of his fellow Undertones: "The guys in the band, they were unbelievably supportive. That gave me the boost of confidence that I wasn't going to let anyone down."

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