Blackburn man with advanced heart failure completes 100-mile cycling challenge

·3-min read
Bob Gower of Blackburn, one of The Electric Cranks – the UK’s only cycling group with LVAD electric heart pumps – has just completed a coast-to-coast bike ride across Hadrian’s Wall to raise awareness of organ donation
Bob Gower of Blackburn, one of The Electric Cranks – the UK’s only cycling group with LVAD electric heart pumps – has just completed a coast-to-coast bike ride across Hadrian’s Wall to raise awareness of organ donation

A cycling group, which includes people from Lancashire, has completed a 100-mile coast-to-coast bike ride from Bowness-on-Solway to South Shield.

Blackburn man, Bob Gower, was just one of the cyclists who participated on Thursday, June 30.

However, this was no ordinary achievement, as the majority of this particular cycling group have no natural heartbeat.

As such, the group were joined by their cardiologists, surgeon, and other supporters as they followed the route of Hadrian’s Wall.

Made up of seven men aged between 50 and 70 with advanced heart failure, nearly all of The Electric Cranks have been fitted with Left Ventricular Assist Devices (LVADs) at Wythenshawe Hospital Heart and Lung Transplant Centre, where the group first came together several years ago.

LVADs are implantable mechanical circulatory support devices for advanced heart failure patients who are either awaiting a heart transplant or not eligible for transplantation.

These heart pumps are a critical option that can extend survival and restore quality of life.

Bob Gower, from Blackburn, who co-founded The Electric Cranks, said: “The finish line was no mean feat, and we’re thankful to all those who supported us from the start, and to those who rode alongside us throughout our journey.

“We set out to show you can still enjoy life after heart failure and the route we chose would be a test for anyone.

“But thanks to the latest developments in intervention technology supporting those waiting for organ donation, we’re thrilled to have been part of the same race.”

While the group regularly ride to provide peer group psychological support and to help encourage physical and mental recovery through cycling, this particular challenge has three more specific purposes:

  • Further pioneering the effectiveness and potential of LVAD technology

  • Raising awareness of those living with severe heart failure and how heart pumps are one life-saving option

  • Generating further funding for the New Start charity, Wythenshawe Hospital’s Transplant Fund

    Created by global healthcare company Abbott, the HeartMate 3 heart pump which is fitted in all but one of The Electric Cranks members has been clinically-proven to improve quality of life outcomes in thousands of advanced heart failure patients around the world.

The Heart and Lung Transplant Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital, part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, is the specialist centre for heart and lung transplant operations for the whole of the North West of England, and usually performs around 60 lifesaving transplant operations a year.

Dr Steven Shaw, Consultant Cardiologist at Wythenshawe Hospital, said: “It’s great to see the Electric Cranks in action, showing us all that people with heart failure can still live their best lives.

“The positive long-term outcomes for LVAD recipients at Wythenshawe Hospital are the best we’ve seen across the country, which is a testament to the care that our dedicated team has provided over the years.

“Our support role extends beyond medical care and into wellbeing and keeping active, both of which have played such an important role in long-term aftercare.”

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