Rock star rushed to Whittington hospital by fan

Mike Portnoy had to ask a fan to take him to hospital. Pic: Sinadiba

Mike Portnoy had to ask a fan to take him to hospital. Pic: Sinadiba - Credit: Archant

Former Dream Theater drummer Mike gives out stick online after ambulance runs out of petrol

A US rock star who’s sold millions of records across the world begged his fans to rush him to the hospital after the ambulance ran out of petrol.

Former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy was terrified after being struck down by a mystery illness that meant he was barely able to stand or lift his arms just hours before a show at the Islington Assembly Hall.

Paramedics arrived at the venue in Upper Street on Saturday night and told him he needed to go to the urgent care centre – only to then admit they didn’t have enough fuel to get him there.

He and fellow band members claimed ambulance staff suggested he find alternative transport – something the London Ambulance Service (LAS) denies – so Mike asked fans waiting for him to perform with rock band Neal Morse if they would drive him to the Whittington Hospital, Magdala Avenue.

In a Facebook post, Mr Portnoy wrote: “The paramedics came to see me at the gig and then decided to take me to the emergency room, only for the ambulance to run out of gas.

“I was then driven to the hospital by a very kind fan who offered to help. It was one of the worst days of my life.”

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Fellow band member Neal Morse, after whom the band is named, added: “After some time the driver said they were too low on fuel and suggested alternate transport. Shocked and in a bit of a panic, I ran into the venue and asked if anyone had a car. We got a ride from a very kind fan and it took us 30 minutes because of traffic that the ambulance probably could’ve avoided.”

A spokesman from the LAS said the ambulance crew “had been on the road since 6.30am and it was their last job”. When asked whether the crew would have been allowed to fill up at the petrol station next door to the venue, he said he “wasn’t sure”.

They added another ambulance was requested, but not sent after the patient decided to make their own way to hospital.

Mr Portnoy’s then blasted staff at the Archway hospital for making him wait.

“A very special NO THANKS to the staff at the Whittington Hospital for NOT seeing me regardless of telling them that there is an audience waiting for our show to begin. I finally left WITHOUT seeing a doctor in order to make tonight’s show. I have no idea how the hell I’m going to make it through this show. I can’t even stand up or lift my arms,” he posted on his Facebook page.

The post generated more than 3,000 comments with many fans and members of the public suggesting he was trying to use his fame to be put at the head of the queue – something he vehemently denies.

One fan wrote: “Not to be rude, but if someone was dying, I’d hope they didn’t move you to the front of the line just to get you to a show. Very narcissistic thinking here.”

Another fan, claiming to be a doctor at the Whittington, also wrote: “As much as I’d jump at the opportunity to help you if I actually was on call tonight, please try to understand. Us healthcare professionals don’t want anyone to wait or suffer at all, however we encounter life-threatening conditions every hour, sometimes every minute, that stop us from seeing others that may be slightly less unwell, as quickly as we’d like. With all the respect I have for you, it hurts when one of my idols insults an organisation I work very hard for. Waiting sucks, I know, but dying patients suck even more.”

The backlash left Mr Portnoy’s wife, Marlene, to jump to his defence, writing: “Some of you people are just so horrible. He didn’t ask for special treatment because he was famous, his concern was the fans that paid good money to see a concert that was about to get cancelled.”

Portnoy later apologised to staff members at the Whittington, adding: “It was not a personal attack or rage against England’s health care system in general, of which I know nothing about. I did not expect any special treatment or wanted to be put ahead of anybody else in need. We only wanted some answers as the clock was ticking until showtime.”

The trust in charge of the Whittington Hospital declined to comment.