the family of a seriously ill little boy have taken their organ donor campaign to Parliament.
Nine-year-old Max Johnson, from Winsford, has been languishing on a waiting list for a new heart for six months now.
The schoolboy suffers from an enlarged heart and desperately needs a longer-term solution than the tiny pump inside his chest he currently relies on to keep him alive.
His mum Emma Johnson and older brother Harry travelled to the House of Commons to watch campaigning Labour MP Dan Jarvis urge the Government to implement an opt-out donor system to replace the current opt-in arrangements, reports our sister paper The Daily Mirror – which is also calling for people to automatically become potential organ donors unless they opt out through its Change the Law for Life campaign.
Such a move would increase the number of potential donors and save thousands of extra lives every year.
Raising Max’s plight in Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Jarvis said: “Little Max Johnson is nine, he’s in hospital and he’s urgently waiting for a heart transplant.
“His mum Emma and his brother Harry join us today to support Max but also the 10,000 people around the country who need an organ transplant.
“We can do more to help them.
“In Wales they have already moved to an opt-out system and Scotland plan to do the same.”
First Secretary of State Damian Green, who was standing in for Theresa May, paid tribute to Max and his family ‘at this incredibly difficult time’ and admitted that ‘more can be done’ to boost numbers on the organ donor register.
He said: “Over the past year we saw the highest ever donor and transplant rates in the UK. But of course there is more that can be done, and the law is different in other territories of the UK.
“Absolutely, I can commit the Department of Health is looking at the impact of those changes to see if they can give rise for further improvements in the number of available organs we have.”
More than 50,000 lives have been saved by organ donation since records began, according to latest NHS figures.
But one in 10 families still refuses to release organs even when loved ones are on the NHS register, because they have not discussed their wishes in advance.
Max, who has spent the past six months in the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, last week sent an impassioned plea to the Prime Minister, asking her simply: “Please change the law to save me.”
Mum Emma said she was ‘cautiously optimistic’ about a shake-up: “It felt a bit surreal sitting there and hearing Max’s name in Parliament – there’s a reality that that’s your son.
“But it felt rewarding because it’s raising the issue not just for Max but for anyone waiting for a transplant.
“It can only be a good thing because we are increasing awareness.
“The Minister’s response seemed cautiously optimistic and I feel quite positive about it.
“There was a lot of noise in the chamber before the question about Max but they all seemed to calm down so it was obviously taken seriously.
“It came across very clearly that there was all-party co-operation.
“Even if the law change takes a long time, in the meantime it means transplants will be discussed and more people hopefully will register as donors, so there’s a short term benefit straight away.”
Speaking afterwards, Mr Jarvis revealed he was hopeful the Government would eventually switch to a presumed consent model.
“I think it was a positive response from the First Secretary of State but what I will look to do now is push the Minster of Health in the debate for further clarity about the Government’s intentions,” he said.
“I remain confident that the law will be changed and the campaign will be successful so I will continue to press the Government to support this.”
More than 9,200 people have signed the Mirror’s petition calling for a change in law.
For more information on organ donation and how to sign up as a donor, click here.