Courageous Cheshire heart transplant boy Max Johnson is celebrating after Prime Minister Theresa May announced she will change the law on organ donation in a stunning victory for a national campaign run by our sister publication the Daily Mirror.
The Prime Minister revealed the historic move to an Opt Out system in her speech at the Tory party conference in Manchester.
The huge development comes after a two-year campaign by the national newspaper.
Brave nine-year-old Max, who was one of the faces of the campaign, celebrated the victory at home and said: “I hope they call it Max’s Law.”
Max appeared on the Mirror's front page to appeal to the PM directly to save him and others like him.
He waited more than seven months on a special unit for a new heart, but is now back home after it finally arrived at Newcastle Freeman Hospital in August.
He said: “I cannot believe it. I thought it would take so much longer but yes! I know it will help other children like me. I hope they call it Max’s Law, it would be fun if they did that.
“Do you think Theresa May saw my picture? I hope so because that is why I did it. I wanted people to realise what it is like to be on the waiting list.
“I wanted to help others waiting for a new organ like me.”
Back with proud parents Emma and Paul in Winsford, Max is enjoying time with his big brother Harry, 12, and playing in his newly decorated bedroom (complete with bunk-style bed) and his beloved music system, a treat for his return from hospital.
Civil servant Paul, 44, said: “I think the announcement is a testimony to the campaign run by the Mirror. We are proud to be part of it. You kept it going, kept the pressure on those in power.
“It gave real wind to the sails for change. I think Theresa May listened. It is the right decision. I take my hat off to her. But the real kudos is for the Mirror, the campaign has been absolutely superb, dignified, it oozed integrity.
“It needed you to reach that seat of power. I think Max put the human face on it. He made compelling arguments for change. He thought it was wonderful when he found out, it has been a real team effort.”
Health campaigners, medics, MPs and patients hailed the Daily Mirror’s relentless drive to save hundreds of lives.
Labour MP Dan Jarvis said it “shows what a difference a campaigning newspaper can make”.
Others described the victory as “momentous” and a “game changer” for the most seriously ill patients across England.
And the boss of Britain’s biggest heart charity said the move would end “the agonising pain felt by families who risk losing a loved one while they wait for a donor”.
The Mirror has been calling for a system of presumed consent across the UK, whereby organs become available unless people decide not to take part.
And after the massive two-year battle for change, the PM announced plans for the biggest shake-up of the organ donation system in decades.
She hailed the Mirror's front page story on September 4 which revealed 457 Brits could have been saved by a law change where people are assumed to consent to being donors after they die.
Mrs May said: “Our ability to help people who need transplants is limited by the number of organ donors that come forward.
“That is why last year 500 people died because a suitable organ was not available. And there are 6,500 on the transplant list today.
“So to address this challenge that affects all communities in our country, we will change that system. Shifting the balance of presumption in favour of organ donation.”
The Government will launch a consultation on the issue before bringing in the change to the system.
A Government spokesman said: “The consultation will propose to automatically enter everyone on the donor register, unless they decide to opt out.”
And the official Tory party Twitter account later confirmed: “Too many people die waiting for donor organs. We will introduce an Opt Out system for organ donation.”
Mrs May’s dramatic move came after Labour leader Jeremy Corby and Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable both backed the Change The Law For Life campaign at their party conferences.
British Medical Association chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the change had “the potential to save many lives”.
Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson had backed the drive and even put forward a Private Members’ Bill - due to be heard next year - calling for a change to the law.
He said: “I’m absolutely delighted the Government have taken the subject of my private member’s bill and will now introduce an Opt Out system."
The National Kidney Federation patients group described the PM’s announcement as “very welcome”.
And Fiona Loud, Policy Director at Kidney Care UK, added: “This is a truly momentous day for the 25,000 people in England on dialysis with kidney failure."
Simon Gillespie, chief executive at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Introducing a soft-opt out system in England will mean that more people will get the life saving transplant they desperately need."
Sally Johnson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “NHS Blood and Transplant welcomes the commitment made in the Prime Minister’s speech to increasing organ donation and transplantation."