Joe Cole yesterday joined celebrations marking 25 years of heart transplants at Harefield hospital.
Chelsea and England star Joe Cole joined the 'Party in the Park' celebrations at Harefield hospital yesterday to mark the 25th anniversary of the first heart transplant at the hospital.
Taking time out from pre-season training, Cole joined up with over 1000 adults and children who are only alive today thanks to the pioneering work of Harefield's transplant specialists.
The hospital treats and cares for one of the largest heart and lung transplant populations in the world, and has given back over 18,000 years of life to adult and paediatric heart and lung transplant patients in the last 25 years.
Having joined in a kickabout and signed autographs for the patients Cole spoke of how the visit had 'put everything into perspective'.
"People who are as lucky as me might take their health for granted," he said. "Everybody seems to until you come to a place like Harefield hospital and see people who have suffered.
"I've heard stories of how some people were bed-ridden with severely damaged hearts until they were given treatment or transplants by the doctors.
"I’m just amazed that people have the chance of a great life after being so ill. The hospital is doing wonderful work and it puts everything in perspective. We should all realise, those of us who have good health, how lucky we are."
With Premiership champions Chelsea recently testing their players for cardiac performance, Cole went on to speak of how footballers had to keep a close eye on their well being in general.
"Obviously footballers have to be very aware of their health," he said.
"At Chelsea a cardiologist has been called in to give each player a consultation, because of the importance attached to the heart and the fitness regime being pursued now at Chelsea.
"Pre-season training is very hard for all footballers, particularly on hot days such as today, so we have to keep a close eye on things."
Meanwhile TalkSport radio presenter and patient of Harefield Hospital, Mike Parry, was also at the event having suffered a heart failure in 2003.
Commenting on his time at Harefield Mike said; "One minute I was fit as a fiddle, the next doctors couldn’t find my heart beat as it was failing so rapidly. If I hadn’t received the treatment I did I would have had three months to live.
"In my view Harefield Hospital is the world’s top cardiothoracic transplant centre. Just like the world’s top footballers play for Real Madrid and Manchester United, the world’s top cardiologist consultants and surgeons work at Harefield."