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Tuesday, 8 January, 2002, 14:12 GMT
Vinnie Jones joins Harefield protest
Tanya and Vinnie Jones
Tanya Jones had a heart transplant at the hospital
Footballer-turned-actor Vinnie Jones has joined the campaign to prevent the closure of the world-renowned Harefield hospital.

Proposals to relocate the heart and lung transplant hospital in Middlesex were announced on 8 October.

Vinnie's wife, Tanya, is a firm supporter of the campaign because her life was saved by a heart transplant at the hospital nearly 15 years ago.

The hospital's care services are due to be relocated to a new 360m health complex in Paddington.

Harefield Hospital
The hospital's care services will be relocated

The celebrity couple visited the Harefield on Tuesday to express their concern and show their support.

Campaigners, who believe the relocation plans represent closure, said that many of the hospital's nurses will not relocate to a new hospital.

Tanya Jones said: "If the government closes it, it'll feel as if a limb has been cut off.

"Some of the nurses who looked after me 14 years ago are still there.

"The staff aren't just earning a living, it's their lives."

The new health complex in Paddington will house two new hospitals - the Royal Brompton and Harefield and St Mary's alongside the Imperial College London.

The care section of Harefield will be moved to Paddington and the emphasis of its current site will be research.

Science park

When the relocation plans were announced, a statement from the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS detailed their hopes for the Harefield site.

It said: "Sir Magdi Yacoub's pioneering Heart Science Centre at Harefield will continue to drive forward research into the causes of heart disease under his leadership, and we are very hopeful that a science park will be developed around the centre. "

Harefield was built as an isolation hospital for TB sufferers in the 1930s.

The celebrated surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub performed his first heart transplant there in 1980.

Diana, Princess of Wales, became associated with the hospital after she was filmed watching Yacoub perform hole-in-the-heart surgery on a boy.

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31 Oct 01 | England
Minister met by Harefield protest
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