ROCK star Billy Idol’s 75-year-old mum had a brush with death when her pacemaker was “zapped” by a library security gate.
Shocked Joan Broad, whose son is the spiky-haired Bromley-born punk rocker, collapsed and awoke with blood streaming from her nose and a paramedic standing over her.
Baffled medics have had to send off for new software from Holland to re-programme her life-saving device.
Her husband, also called Bill, telephoned their world-famous son to inform him as he prepares for his North American tour, starting next week.
The rare but shocking incident happened as she was wheeling her two-year-old granddaughter, Naomi, through the library’s entrance in a pushchair.
A bruised Mrs Broad, of Shawfield Park, Bromley, said: “It zapped me as I went to go through and I just collapsed. I didn’t feel any pain but I was very breathless when I came round.
“The paramedic couldn’t give me any oxygen at first because my nose was bleeding. I think I must have fallen face first.” The grandmother-of-four is furious there are no signs at the entrance to Bromley library warning people with pacemakers about the potential danger.
She explained that if another part of the heart device had been affected she could have died, saying: “It is extremely serious.” After spending the night in the Princess Royal University Hospital, in Farnborough, she went for tests at King’s College Hospital, where the pacemaker was fitted six years ago.
A Bromley Council spokesman says no link has been found between the pacemaker’s malfunction and the electro-magnetic machine, which has been checked by engineers.
“I don’t think we would necessarily want to raise concerns by putting up a sign but it’s something we will look at. We need to be clear there’s a link though,” he said.
“We will be talking to other libraries to see if they have had similar issues. If anyone has a concern about pacemakers they can talk to our staff and we are happy to take advice from King’s.” Senior chief cardiac technician at the south London hospital Karen Lascelles said: “Incidents like this are very rare and we tell our patients not to worry too much.
“Pacemakers are programmed to a patient’s requirements and can be affected by magnetic or electrical sources. If this happens it will reset to a standard mode which can make them feel unwell.” System manufacturer 3M says the archway, which scans for magnetic strips in books, emits the same electro-magnetic field as those found in most high street stores.
A spokesman said: “This system was checked and was not malfunctioning. We need to gather all the information we can about the pacemaker.
“Occurrences like this are very rare, there have only been about 10 cases in Europe in the last 10 years but we can learn from them.” Mrs Broad’s daughter Jane Cheese, who lives in Bickley and has three other children, Matthew, 20, Caroline, 19, and Mark, 16, has been looking after her mum while she recovers.
BORN William Broad in 1955, Billy Idol started out in 1976 as a member of the famous “Bromley Contingent” fans of the Sex Pistols, which included members of the Clash and Siouxsie and the Banshees.
He has recorded dozens of songs, some of which could almost have been written for his mum after her experience. These include: Oh Mother (1981)
Shock to the System (1993)
From the Heart (1978)
Beyond Belief (1986)
Daytime Drama (1984)
Shakin’ All Over (1985)