Leeds family teams up with music star on lung disease campaign

Tony Gowland.
Tony Gowland.
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The grandchildren of a Leeds man desperately in need of a lung transplant are starring in a moving campaign to boost awareness of his little-known condition.

Tony Gowland has idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) – a progressive lung disease which leaves sufferers with an average life expectancy of just three years from diagnosis.

Tony Gowland with Myleene Klass

Tony Gowland with Myleene Klass

The 59-year-old now needs oxygen to help him breathe and is awaiting a lifesaving transplant.

Mr Gowland and his family are featured in a video for the new Fight IPF campaign, which shows an emotional performance by a children’s choir including his three granddaughters Lauren, 12, Emma, eight, and Megan, six.

The youngsters were accompanied by music star and classically trained pianist Myleene Klass, who is supporting the campaign launched by the charity Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis (APF) and Roche.

Mr Gowland, from Moortown, said: “It was really moving.

“It was a lovely idea and it would be great if it does it’s job and can be shared around the world.”

The dad-of-two was diagnosed with IPF in 2011 after suffering from a persistent cough.

Tests showed he had the disease, which affects around 15,000 people in the UK

Though he had no other symptoms initially, Mr Gowland now needs almost constant oxygen and his lung capacity is severely depleted.

“I can move around a little, but it’s getting significantly worse,” he said.

“My recovery rate is dreadful. If I get out of breath, it takes me a good few minutes to recover.”

The retired training consultant, who is cared for by his wife Jackie, is currently awaiting a lung transplant – though there is a major shortage of donors.

“I’m hugely grateful I’m on it, but it’s by no means a guarantee,” he said.

He said there was little awareness of IPF, despite it claiming more lives than leukaemia, and a shortage of research funding.

The new Fight IPF campaign aims to boost knowledge among medics and the public, as well as improving support for those affected.

Mr Gowland and his family were among patients invited to London by the campaign organisers and then surprised by the emotional performance of the Rachel Platten hit Fight Song by their relatives.

Myleene Klass, who accompanied them, said: “As a musician and a mother, I feel privileged to be part of this campaign which has touched the hearts of us all. I hope that through the power of music we can inspire people with IPF to embrace living in the moment and continue to live their lives the best way in which they can.”

To see the video and for more information, visit www.fightipf.co.uk.

* More than 6,000 people are on the national waiting list for donor organs.

Last year the Yorkshire Evening Post backed the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s Be A Hero campaign to encourage people to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Since the launch of the campaign in 2015, 48 families consented to organ donation at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in 2015/16 - the highest number of family consents the hospitals trust has had in one year.

However 700 people in Yorkshire are currently waiting for a lifesaving transplant.