Winsford transplant boy Max Johnson sent ‘the biggest thank you in the world’ to the donor who saved his life as he was recognised for his courage.
Max was named as one of the most ‘inspirational children’ in the UK after fronting the Change the Law for Life campaign run by our sister publication The Mirror.
The nine-year-old underwent a heart transplant last month after an eight-month wait. Showing bravery which belied his tender years, he urged Prime Minister Theresa May to bring in an ‘opt out’ system despite being desperately sick.
He is due to leave the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle soon and said: “I would just say the biggest thank you in the world to the donor family who saved my life.
“I cannot thank them enough.”
His parents Emma and Paul were told he had been commended in the WellChild Awards.
They recognise young people living with exceptional health needs and the carers who look after them. Max made the short list from hundreds of nominations.
He received a certificate of commendation from the judges who felt he ‘was inspiring and so deserved to be recognised’.
Emma, 47, a market researcher, said: “We are over the moon.”
She will continue to support the Mirror’s crusade on ‘opt out’, where people in England and Northern Ireland would be presumed to be donors, rather than the current ‘opt in’ system where you carry a donor card.
She will be speaking at a Mirror event during the Labour Party conference this month.
Emma, Paul, 44, a civil servant, and Max’s brother Harry, 12, believe the campaign helped to find him a donor. They had to split their time between the Freeman and their home 175 miles away in Winsford before his life saving op.
Emma will tell MPs: “There are over 6,400 people in England who are currently waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant, including nearly 40 children.
“For some of those people, the wait will be too long, and they will pass away or become too ill before they are given the chance of a new life.
“Last year 470 people, including 14 children, died while on the transplant list or died after they had been taken off the list, because they had become too ill for surgery.
“Of those people who died, 22 adults and 10 children were hoping for a new heart.”
Consent is also a key issue, as potential donors die having joined the organ donor register without telling loved ones of their wishes.
The British Medical Association found 36% of the population on the register and yet 66% willing to donate. “The gap speaks for itself,” added Emma.
Almost 12,000 back the Mirror petition calling for the ‘opt out’ law. Thousands more signed the NHS donor register after reading our story on Max as he waited for a new heart.
Visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk, or sign the petition at mirror.co.uk/donor if you would like to support the campaign.