Mother's tribute is funding research

The family of a woman who died from a rare lung disease has launched an annual charity concert to help fund research in the North-East.

The family of a woman who died from a rare lung disease has launched an annual charity concert to help fund research in the North-East.

Jean Johnston, of Sidgate, Newbrough, near Hexham, died in April, aged 68, having only been admitted to Hexham Hospital 12 hours earlier.

She had been suffering from breathing problems for almost three months before the family were told she had been suffering from cryptogenic fibrosing alveolitis (CFA), a condition which hits only six in 100,000 people.

Jean's husband Edmund, 71, and daughter Paula Hall, also of Sidgate, Newbrough, organised a sell-out fundraising concert at Newbrough Town Hall on Saturday and raised more than £800.

The money has been donated to Newcastle University and the Freeman Hospital to fund research into the disease.

Edmund and Paula had already raised £300 from a previous event and hope to make the concert an annual occasion.

Paula, 42, a special needs assistant at Newbrough First School, said: "It was really difficult not knowing what had caused Mam's death, especially as it happened so suddenly.

"When we did find out, we decided we wanted to try and raise awareness of this disease and help with the research."

She said: "Slides of Mam's lungs are now being used to help train doctors to become pathologists.

"I think it is wonderful that the North-East is involved in this research and hope it will help families in the future."

Edmund said: "The concert went down really well. It was a sell-out with more than 100 people there.

"I can't get my wife back, but if I can help other people with the disease that will be something."

Paula's 19-year-old son Chris played saxophone at the concert and musical duo South of the Border also performed.

CFA is very difficult to identify and can often be misdiagnosed.

It causes scarring to the lungs and makes it harder for the sufferer to breath and it is more common in smokers.

At the moment there are several conditions which are linked to the disease and some are more treatable than others. Many patients are prescribed steroids.

Prof Paul Corris is leading the team of researchers who are looking at new forms of treatment, as well as the causes of the disease.

He said: "Medical research is very expensive and fundraising such as this is crucial to its progress."

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