Winsford schoolboy Max Johnson will go down in history as the person who saved countless lives after MPs backed Max’s Law.
His proud mum Emma wept tears of joy as MPs vowed to name the “opt-out” organ donation system after him.
Max, 10, a pupil at Oswald's Worleston CE Primary School in Nantwich, bravely agreed to front our sister paper the Daily Mirror’s campaign even as he waited seven months for a new heart, which he received in August.
Last week he was victorious as Geoffrey Robinson’s Private Members’ Bill cleared its biggest hurdle by passing its second reading.
Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price confirmed the Government would call the change Max’s Law.
She said: “We in the Government will be referring to this as Max’s Law, and we will do everything we can to ensure its passage.”
The move, expected to save thousands of lives, would presume people consent to donating their organs after death unless they opt out.
Max celebrated with dad Paul, 44, and brother Harry, 12, at a KFC near his home in Winsford, Cheshire.
As news from Westminster came through, Max said: “Wow! I can’t believe that it is going to happen. I am so happy. It is brilliant news. It is going to help so many people.”
Paul said: “It was a real team effort and testament to the integrity of the Mirror campaign. It is appropriate that it got cross-party support, and the backing from the Government got it over the line. Lives will be saved by this decision.”
Labour MP Mr Robinson’s bill, seconded by colleague Dan Jarvis, will bring England into line with the organ donation system in Wales.
The Coventry MP said levels of organ donation were higher than a decade ago, but we had some of the lowest consent rates in Western Europe and a “certain inertia” had set in.
He said this was “not good enough” and added: “I believe we can do better and be pioneers in making transplants more effective.”
Mr Robinson hopes the law would now be changed by the end of the year so that it could increase the availability of organs over time.
And Mr Jarvis said: “We have a precious opportunity to do something about it, and we must not miss it. Moving to an opt-out system for organ donation will add thousands of names to the donor register.”
According to NHS figures, about 500 people die each year due to a lack of suitable donors.
Health Minister Ms Doyle-Price said the change would secure an estimated 100 extra donors a year, potentially saving 200 more lives.
She added: “On the basis that we could save 200 lives, we will wholeheartedly support this Bill.”
Max received his heart from Keira Ball, a nine-year-old girl who died in a road accident last July. Her father Joe, 35, of Barnstaple, Devon, said of yesterday’s result: “It’s fantastic news. I think the MPs have been touched because so many people got in touch to ask them to vote.”
In a unusual appearance of a party leader at a private members’ bill debate, Jeremy Corbyn said the “wonderful” measure would “save an awful lot of people’s lives”.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt also showed his support. There was also widespread praise from MPs for the Change The Law For Life campaign led by the Daily Mirror.
Mr Robinson said: “I must talk about the Mirror and its magnificent work on this issue. They’ve achieved so much. It is the best of the best.”
We have called for a new system where all citizens are potential donors unless they specifically say otherwise.
The Mirror revealed 4,712 people died in the past decade while waiting for an organ. Labour’s Julie Elliott, whose daughter Rebecca is receiving dialysis for kidney disease, said the new law would give “hope” to thousands of transplant patients.
Tory backbencher Dame Cheryl Gillan revealed she changed her mind to be in favour of opt-out after seeing a friend’s son struggle with liver disease.
And Labour’s Paul Flynn added: “People are living in Wales who would’ve died before the law was passed, and people are dying unnecessarily in England.”
Under the bill’s soft opt-out proposals, the wishes of families and next of kin would continue to be respected, so removal of organs would not go ahead without their support.
Health groups last night welcomed the move to change the law.
Fiona Loud, of Kidney Care UK, said: “Now politicians have spoken, we need the public to share their views and take part in the final weeks of the organ donation consultation so that we can all help to shape this vital and life-saving legislation.”