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HE IS SORE BUT OK; EXCLUSIVE: Wife Emma tells of heart op on ex-premier's son.

THE new mother-in-law of James Major spoke of her anguish last night after his heart surgery.

"It's been an awful worry," said Joan Noble as she looked back on four months of anxiety over 24-year-old James's health.

James was said to be "sore, but OK". His wife Emma, the ex-game show hostess, was nursing him at their four-bedroomed house.

She said last night: "He's recovering at the moment and he's feeling a lot better today.

"The pacemaker has been fitted to resolve a slow and irregular heartbeat. He had it fitted at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington.

"He is diagnosed as having Stokes-Adams attacks, which he has been having for a long time.

"He came out of hospital on Saturday after the operation on Friday. It was a fairly quick procedure.

"He is as well as can be expected, but he now needs time to recover." In March, the former premier's son collapsed at a London nightclub and three weeks later had a similar scare.

He was said at the time to have a form of low blood pressure that causes light-headedness or fainting when the sufferer stands up quickly.

Stokes-Adams syndrome is a condition in which slowness of the pulse is associated with attacks of unconsciousness. It is caused by a circulation problem.

Yesterday mother-in-law Joan, speaking at home in Sidcup, Kent, told The Mirror: "He hasn't been well at all, but he's fine now.

"It is better it comes from them, so we don't want to say anything about it. I do wish them both the best. It has been an awful worry."

Wife Emma, 28, was with James when he went into hospital for what is usually a 90-minute operation performed under local anaesthetic. An incision is made on the left side of the chest before wires are inserted into the heart.

These are attached to the pacemaker - size of a 50p piece - which is controlled by a computer.

The procedure is considered simple and less than one per cent of patients have complications.

James and Emma, who live in Chislehurst, Kent, were married on May 29 and spent their honeymoon on a Malaysian island

As James had surgery, his mother Dame Norma was at her annual charity cricket match in her husband's constituency.

James and his wife had been expected to attend the the game in Alconbury, Cambs. There was some surprise when the couple did not show up. In past years, James has always made an appearance.

Yesterday John Major's agent in Huntingdon, Sir Peter Brown, confirmed that the reason for his absence was the hospital date.

Sir Peter said: "He did have a pacemaker fitted on Friday, that is completely correct.

"Nothing is being hidden, but the family were not actively seeking to make the details of this matter public at this time.

"But they are prepared to confirm the operation did take place, and that James is fine."

James, a keen sportsman, had his first scare while with Emma at the trendy Met Bar in London in March.

He collapsed on the stairs and was pictured being wheeled out on a stretcher. He was taken to hospital for tests. A statement followed saying he was suffering from postural hypotension.

His father John explained at the time: "This cuts off the supply of blood to the brain, causing dizziness and blackouts. This ailment is not life- threatening."

Three weeks after the club drama, James collapsed again during a fund- raising dinner for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards at the Carlton Tower Hotel in Knightsbridge, London.

He was violently sick and had to be helped to a side room where he changed his clothes.

An ambulance was called, but he did not go to hospital.

Later the same evening as he left the hotel, he lost his temper and lunged at a photographer. James delayed the pacemaker op until after his wedding. He and Emma married in the crypt at the House of Commons.

Guests went on to a champagne reception at the Dorchester Hotel.

The couple were believed to have been paid pounds 300,000 by Hello! magazine for exclusive rights to their wedding pictures.

They had met in February 1998 while James was working as manager of a London nightclub and a whirlwind romanced followed.

James's love life had earlier hit the headlines while working as a trainee manager at Marks and Spencer. He dated married Elaine Jordache, who was 10 years older than him.

His medical problem could have been treated in several ways. But in severe cases, pacemakers are fitted to regulate the flow of blood to the brain.

For James, the device will act as an auxiliary pump - sending extra blood into his system when he is at most at risk of fainting

The titanium pacemaker, which is inserted under the skin, is hidden by the pectoral muscle.

It delivers short bursts of electricity at three or four volts, causing the heart muscles to contract. It is powered by a lithium battery which can last 10 years

Patients are ordered to rest completely for a month while the machine embeds itself.

This ensures the wires are connected properly, so they can send the necessary signals to the computer in the pacemaker.

For patients like James Major, the pacemaker will allow him to have a completely normal life, although he will have to make regular visits to his cardiologist for check-ups.
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 21, 1999
Previous Article:Voice of the Mirror: Now honour your faithful fans, Sir Alex.

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