LE GOD has joined the fight to save children’s heart surgery in Southampton.

Saints legend Matt Le Tissier has backed the Daily Echo’s Have a Heart campaign to save the threatened unit at Southampton General Hospital and is urging everyone to follow his lead and sign the petition.

The Sky Sports presenter was joined by former Saints stars Nicky Banger and Francis Benali, who both believe it is absolutely vital to protect the internationally renowned specialist centre.

Their support comes as the number of people backing the Echo campaign has risen to more than 66,000. And the trio of footballing idols are calling on all those who have yet to sign to do so before it is too late.

The cause is particularly close to Matt’s heart as youngsters born with heart defects in Guernsey, where he grew-up, would be forced to travel for more than four hours for treatment if surgery at S o u t h a m p t o n stopped.

Matt said: “I have extremely close ties with both Southampton and Guernsey, and am keen to bring awareness to the Southern Daily Echo’s Have a Heart campaign.

“The cardiac unit at Southampton is, quite simply, the best option for local children who need cardiac care. It provides a first class service and is rated second highest performing out of 11 centres in the UK.

“Please join me and sign the Have a Heart petition to keep the Southampton children’s cardiac unit open.”

Despite being ranked the second best in the country our paediatric heart unit is under threat as health chiefs look to cut the UK’s 11 centres down to six or seven. Southampton was featured in just one of four options which will be put out for public consultation, before the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) makes its final decision.

If Southampton closed, families would be forced to get life-saving treatment in London or Bristol, at units which experts say fell below the “exemplary” standards that the city boasts.

Nicky said: “The children’s cardiac unit is absolutely vital and it would be a crying shame if it went. So many people would suffer as a result, as it is such an important facility.

“I just encourage everyone in Southampton and all the other towns and places affected by this to get involved and sign the Daily Echo’s petition.”

Francis Benali said: “It’s critical that the unit stays in Southampton and continues to be supported and funded.

“I’m fully aware of the Daily Echo’s campaign to support them and back it, and it’s vital as many people as possible get behind it.

“It’s easy to forget that we’ve got such a highly-regarded and specialist unit on our doorstep and that it is internationally and nationally recognised.”

• Click here to visit the consultation website

Daily Echo: Daily Echo Have a Heart Campaign to save paediatric heart surgery in Southampton

Download the Have a Heart petition form

Print it out, get as many signatures as you can and send it to Have a Heart, Southern Daily Echo, Test lane, Redbridge, Southampton, SO16 9JX
Daily Echo: Have a Heart poster

Download the Have a Heart poster

Print out our A4 sized Have a Heart poster