Today FM's Ed shares baby news after heart attack
'It’s a year today since my heartbeat almost stopped, ...I’m celebrating by revealing the beginning of a new one'
THIS time last year Today FM DJ Ed Smith suffered a heart attack they call 'The Widow Maker' during the Electric Picnic festival weekend in Co Laois.
A year on, 43-year-old Ed has made a full recovery and is celebrating the news that he and his Mayo girlfriend, Michelle, are expecting their first child together.
Announcing the good news with an ultrasound snap on social media this week, Ed said: "It's a year today since my heartbeat almost stopped, so I'm celebrating by revealing the beginning of a new one."
In an exclusive interview with the Sunday World, Smith yesterday joked that the happy couple are having a "little Covid baby", due next February.
He laughed: "They say there's going to be a Covid baby boom, so we're ahead of the curve."
Cork-born Ed revealed that he moved in with his girlfriend in Castlebar last March just before the lockdown - after suffering a panic attack.
"I fled to Castlebar from Dublin just after the hysteria of the Covid hit," he reveals. "I had spent too much time filling my head with panic and misinformation from Twitter. Things were escalating by the hour at that stage in March and I had an underlying health issue.
"Usually I'm a fairly even headed, relaxed individual, but it kind of got in on me a bit and I took a panic attack. I brought myself to James's Hospital thinking I was having another heart attack."
After undergoing tests, Smith was informed that he'd had a panic attack.
"It was then I decided to head for Mayo, and my bosses in Today FM were fully supportive," says Ed, who broadcasts an evening music show on weekdays and every Sunday.
"I moved in with Michelle and her sister, Dervla, who are music teachers. They share a house and it has a spare room where I would broadcast my Today FM show from. I called it Studio 31, which was the number of the house in the quiet little estate.
"I was in one room broadcasting on Today FM, Dervla was playing the cello in the front room, and then Michelle was on piano in the other room. They were teaching online."
Recalling the events around his shock heart attack last year, Ed says it happened after attending Electric Picnic on the Saturday. "It was the early hours of the Sunday morning, I was in bed in a local hotel and I felt something wasn't right. There wasn't anything major. I wasn't rolling around or anything. I felt I needed to let out a massive fart, or a huge belch, the way you feel after Christmas dinner. I felt I was being hugged by an unfriendly bear.
"I went to reception and said, 'I think I might have an issue.' I stayed very calm and together, I was seen by a local doctor, who called an ambulance. I was in James's Hospital within the hour.
"I was whisked in, they put two stents in, and I felt better immediately. The staff in James's were so calm and efficient, I'll never forget it. Our health system comes in for a lot of criticism, but I can't speak highly enough of the staff and the care I've had."
Ed says his heart issue is part-hereditary and part-lifestyle.
Both his parents died suddenly from heart attacks.
"I found my mother in the house at the bottom of the stairs," he says, still clearly traumatised by the experience.
"My own heart attack was the kick in the arse that I needed…and I listened. I was overweight and partying at the level of a man five or 10 years younger than me, and I was a social smoker.
"Since then, I've been going to the gym a lot, eating a lot of fruit and veg, and I've cut back on the old socialising. The Covid has helped the latter."
On his romance, Ed reveals that he met Michelle after they first connected through his radio show.
"Michelle used to tune in to my Saturday night show back then," Ed tells me. "I would respond to a lot of the messages coming in from listeners, and we got into a bit of banter. We were back and forth for a couple of years.
"Then Michelle was ill for a while with cancer and I would check in on her.
"We became good pals. After meeting up over time it developed into something more and we've been together four years now."
Ed, who has a 20-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, describes Michelle's pregnancy as "a little gift from Covid to both of us", adding with a laugh: "It was either that or take up golf, so we went with the baby instead. Phil Hogan ruined the golf for everybody."