Gordon Smart said he and Dornan were on a golf trip in Portugal last year when they experienced strange symptoms, which a doctor later indicated might be from toxic caterpillars
Jamie Dornan's friend is reflecting on an apparent run-in with "toxic" caterpillars in Portugal which he claims left both men hospitalized last year.
Gordon Smart, a Scottish broadcaster, opened up on BBC's The Good, the Bad and the Unexpected comedy show on Jan. 12 about the incident, which happened when he and three friends from Northern Ireland — Dornan included — went on a golf trip.
After a night of drinking wine and espresso martinis, Smart said on the show that he personally started to feel "tingling in my left hand and tingling in my left arm," which he figured was "normally the sign of the start of a heart attack."
He was quickly taken to a local hospital given that his heart rate was 210 BPM. Smart then collapsed in an Uber, woke up in a hospital bed and explained to a doctor how much alcohol he had the night before.
"As I was lying there, one of the other lads I was with went past on a hospital bed with doctors shouting the same questions to him," Smart recalled. "And I thought, 'That's not a good sign that he's in the same state as me.' "
After leaving the hospital and returning to their place, Smart soon realized that his friend was still there. "There [Dornan] was with all this stuff attached to this chair saying, 'Gordon, about 20 minutes after you left, my left arm went numb, my left leg went numb, my right leg went numb. And I found myself in the back of an ambulance,' " he recalled.
A source close to Dornan refutes Smart's story. "He never went into the hospital — he even played a game of golf the next day and won," they told PEOPLE.
According to Smart's Instagram, he and Dornan joined friends in Portugal to play golf in March 2023.
Smart said he received a "phone call from the doctor" a week after their golfing trip asking him if the group had come in contact with caterpillars on the golf course, before sending him a local news story about processionary caterpillars.
Per Forest Research, pine processionary moth caterpillars have thousands of tiny hairs featuring an "urticating, or irritating, protein called thaumetopoei," which can lead to rashes, pain in the skin, eyes and throat and in rarer cases, allergic reactions. The moths, however, are "harmless" to both people and animals.
The insect is found in warmer areas of southern Europe, the Near East and North Africa. "With urticating hairs," it can sting "anyone who attempts to molest them that has brought the caterpillars to the attention of the public," per the SUNY Cortland faculty website.
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"It turns out that there are caterpillars on golf courses in the south of Portugal that have been killing people's dogs and giving men in their 40s heart attacks. It turns out we brushed up against processionary caterpillars and had been very lucky to come out of that one alive," Smart said.
“So there’s my story. The good news is it wasn’t a caffeine overdose, it wasn’t a hangover. It was a poisonous, toxic caterpillar,” he added.
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