Leeds piano man’s grief as drug treatment decision threatens passion of 50 years

John Collins, from Yeadon, who suffers from Dupuytren's contracture. Picture by Simon Hulme.
John Collins, from Yeadon, who suffers from Dupuytren's contracture. Picture by Simon Hulme.
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A retired Leeds piano teacher fears he could be robbed of his lifelong passion after a health watchdog refused to back a treatment that has helped him.

John Collins, from Yeadon, has played the piano for over 50 years but has been plagued by genetic condition Dupuytren’s contracture which causes the fingers to bend into the palm so they can’t be straightened.

The grandfather of four, 66, has been through 10 operations on his hands since the age of 18 to keep his fingers straight and was told further surgery could cause nerve and circulation damage before he was enrolled onto a clinical trial of injections.

Despite the John’s experience of Collagenase, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has refused to recommend it – meaning John faces surgery that could limit his ability to tickle the ivories.

He said: “I was distraught. It’s an amazing treatment – the beauty is that you go in on a Wednesday and have the injections, go back on Friday and then that’s it. I can literally come home, sit down and play.”

NICE decided not to recommend the treatment, which sees patients avoid surgery by having enzyme injections to break down collagen fibres that develop, but asked for more research into its “clinical effectiveness”.

John's hand after surgery.

John's hand after surgery.

The British Dupuytren’s Society said it is “astonished” by the decision. Dupuytren’s affects two million people in the UK.

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