Survivor Fabrice Muamba to open new heart unit at Queen's Hospital in Burton
A FORMER Premiership footballer who suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch will be the guest of honour at the official opening of a £1.5 million heart unit at a Burton hospital.
Fabrice Muamba's heart stopped for more than an hour after the seizure, which took place during an FA Cup match in March last year.
But the former Bolton Wanderers midfielder pulled through and will now be on hand to cut the ribbon at the Belvedere Road site on Friday.
The cardiac catherisation laboratory and chest pain unit will mean patients can be treated for vital heart procedures on their doorstep, rather than travelling to larger centres.
Mr Muamba, who suffered a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup quarter-final tie against Tottenham last year, will share the official opening with members of a benefactor who left a bequest to help fund the new facility.
He said: "I am so delighted to be at the opening of this state-of-the-art facility. I know it will be so important in providing such incredible care to those who need it for years to come."
Mr Muamba's life-and-death struggle on the pitch won him the sympathy of the nation as millions saw medics desperately trying to resuscitate the 24-year-old after he fell to the ground at White Hart Lane.
His heart stopped for more than an hour and cardiologists who helped save his life described his recovery simply as "miraculous".
He will be sharing the opening honours with Davina Emmerson, who is representing the Thornley family.
A £700,000 legacy left in memory of Ernest Thornley, who was secretary of Burton General Hospital in the 1920s to the 1940s, has helped fund the unit.
Burton Hospitals' lead consultant cardiologist, Howard Why, said: "We have been overwhelmed by the response to the development of this unit.
"We are hugely appreciative to the Thornley family for their donation.
"And to have Fabrice Muamba, who survived against all the odds, jointly opening the unit with Mrs Emmerson, is a really exciting event for the hospital."