Heartbreak as dad-of-seven collapses and dies while 'waiting for a diagnosis'

The devastated family of a dad-of-seven who died after collapsing at home have spoken of their heartbreak.

Ian Caunce had been trying to get a diagnosis for his breathing difficulties in the weeks leading up to his death on March 17.

The 52-year-old was at home with his family in Ince-in-Makerfield, near Wigan town centre, when he collapsed in the early hours of the morning.

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The dad was revived by paramedics while being blue-lighted to hospital but had gone 45 minutes without oxygen - medics believing he had suffered at least 85 per cent brain damage.

Tragically, his loved ones made the heartbreaking decision to turn off his life support machine and watched from his bedside as he took his last breath.

His eldest son, Declan Lewis-Gaskell, says the family are now trying to come to terms with their monumental loss.

“I sat down in hospital and watched the monitors tick away,” the 24-year-old told the Manchester Evening News. “I watched him take his last breath.

“When I got that phone call saying I needed to go to hospital, I panicked, I wanted to be there by my mother’s side. She was absolutely devastated to say the least.

“For me, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life so far. At the age of 24, it absolutely broke me.

“I couldn’t hold myself together. But ever since, I’ve been trying to stay strong for the rest of the family.”

Ian’s family say he had been in and out of hospital with breathing problems in the lead up to his death. He was set to be diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, on April 2.

COPD is the name for a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties. It includes emphysema, damage to the air sacs in the lungs, and chronic bronchitis, long-term inflammation of the airways

COPD is a common condition that mainly affects middle-aged or older adults who smoke. Many people do not realise they have it, according to the NHS.

The breathing problems tend to get gradually worse over time and can limit normal activities, although treatment can help keep the condition under control. Symptoms include shortness of breath, particularly when active; a persistent chesty cough with phlegm; frequent chest infections and persistent wheezing.

While Ian’s cause of death is still unclear, doctors believe he likely died from heart failure and cardiac arrest.

A keen Liverpool FC fan, Ian, who previously worked for a removals company, loved playing darts and going fishing with his children.

“He was one the most loving people I’ve ever known,” Declan, who lives in Wigan town centre, continued.

“He was such a great person. He was just very amazing and I’m lucky to have been able to call him a father.

“He loved watching his favourite football team Liverpool FC and he had a dartboard in his kitchen. He loved playing darts.

“Another major thing he loved doing was taking me and a lot of the kids fishing. He was very big on fishing. Just having those memories – knowing he was incredibly passionate about his fishing.

“He knew what he was talking about. He was always proud of us making sure we caught something on the day.

“My mum honestly looks and feels a little bit lost. I’ve been trying to be there on a weekly basis. She’s staying strong and being a great mother to the rest of the kids.”

A fundraiser has been set up to help the family go on a holiday later this year as a celebration of Ian’s life.

To donate, follow the link by clicking here.