STAFF, former patients and charity fundraisers came together to celebrate a decade of life-saving work at the John Radcliffe Hospital's heart centre yesterday.

The £29m specialist unit was opened in October 2009 to bring together Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust's cardiothoracic care under one roof – including a 24-hour centre for patients with suspected heart attacks.

IN PICTURES: Oxford heart centre from construction to first patients

Clinical director for cardiology Dr Yaver Bashir speaking at an event to mark milestone said the centre had made a 'massive difference' to how care was delivered and that it was 'great cause for hope' adding: "Bring on the next 10 years."

Oxford Mail:

Author Mark Haddon, who wrote The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, also spoke about his own experience of having a heart bypass operation in February at the Oxford centre.

The 56-year-old, from Jericho, said he first noticed something was wrong about 18 months before he was actually diagnosed.

"He said: “I was having gradually increasing problems running or cycling.

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"When you do sport you know the difference between good tired and bad tired, and this was the latter."

He described how 'incredible' staff had been throughout his time in the hospital, despite his many questions, and had tears in his eyes as he spoke about how the NHS made him 'proud to be British'. Addressing the heart centre nurses, doctors and other heart centre staff gathered he said: "Thank you for saving my life."

Oxford Mail:

Trust chairman Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery said the OUH was 'very proud' of the heart centre calling it a 'leading service' within the trust.

He added: "It has made a real difference to patients treated here and the improvements it has brought over the last 10 years are very impressive.

"All credit goes to the wonderful staff whose dedication and skill enable us to provide top class cardiothoracic services."

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Sir Jonathan continued: "Their commitment is the foundation for our patient’s benefit and I am very grateful to them.”

Oxford Hospitals Charity was instrumental in creating the Oxford Heart Centre 10 years ago, and raised £2m to ensure it had the best equipment and facilities for our expert clinical teams and their patients.

Oxford Mail:

The heart centre’s anniversary also marks the launch of the charity’s new Oxfordshire’s Heartfelt Appeal, which will help towards funding additional medical equipment.

Dr Douglas Graham, the charity's chief executive, said: "Ten years ago, we were able to provide some really cutting-edge equipment for the centre, and as technology rapidly moves forward we are keen to continue helping our clinical colleagues remain at the very forefront of medical advances."

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There will be an open day on Saturday to celebrate the anniversary, with talks on how the centre has helped people since its creation a decade ago.

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