Max and Keira’s Law, which could save 700 lives a year, is finally on the statute book.
The legislation to make organ donation automatic unless people opt out became law yesterday exactly 1,200 days after The Mirror launched its crusade for change.
Named after Max Johnson, 10, and Kiera Ball – the nine-year-old donor who saved him – the law was greeted with joy.
Prime Minister Theresa May hailed a “momentous step for thousands” in need of a life-saving transplant.
She added: “I want to thank those who campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of this issue and pay particular tribute to Max, Keira and their families for making this historic change happen. It could save as many as 700 lives a year.”
Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, called it “wonderful news”, adding: “I thank Daily Mirror readers for their steadfast support.
“Everyone who played a role can be proud.” From Spring 2020, all adults in England will be considered potential donors when they die unless they have recorded a decision not to donate.
Excluded will be those resident for less than 12 months, under-18s and people lacking the capacity to understand the change.
Max’s parents Emma, 48, and Paul, 45, of Winsford, Cheshire, congratulated the Mirror.
And the delighted 10-year-old added: “If it saves just one life it will be worth it.”
But it’s not just Max’s life that has been transformed.
On these pages other transplant patients tell of their joy over the new law.
- For more information or to register your decision to opt in or opt out, visit www.organdonation.nhs
Charles Duke, 23, double lung
The young actor was born with cystic fibrosis and his parents were told he was unlikely to reach his 20th birthday.
His lungs collapsed when he was 19 and Charles needed a double lung transplant.
Just in time, after a three-year wait, he found a donor and had the operation last May.
Charles, 23, from Lymington, Hants, says: “If you saw someone about to walk in front of a bus, you would save their life. Organ donation is no different. It’s great there will soon be more donors. We still have to encourage people to have those conversations with their families though.
“Now I am doing really well – I have my life back. Since the Mirror’s campaign there’s been so much talk about it.
“That’s helped to get it to law. I’m proud to have been a part of that.”
Jess Harris, 30, pancreas and kidney
A year ago Jess was sitting in her studio apartment hooked up to a dialysis machine, desperately waiting for a kidney and pancreas transplant. Her luck changed in October when she finally received the call that doctors had found a suitable donor.
She says: “17 weeks ago, I received a call that changed my life for ever. I’m getting my life back after so many years, I’m getting stronger and fitter.
“Post kidney and pancreas transplant life is amazing, no words could ever describe my gratitude. I am forever grateful to my donor for sharing part of himself so I can live on and I will do in his honour.
“Thank you to the Mirror and its readers for investing the time in such an important campaign.”
Josie Stewart, 25, double lung
Josie was so ill with cystic fibrosis her mum was her full-time carer and she had to use a wheelchair.
The fashion student got her independence back after a double lung transplant in July 2016. On coming round, doctors switched off her oxygen to see how she would react. Josie thought she was still hooked up to the machine until they told her: “It’s you. You’re breathing.” She says: “It was really emotional.”
Now she has thanked our readers. Josie, of Sidcup, South East London, adds: “I think the Mirror campaign helped to get organ donation in people’s minds. Anybody could need a transplant, you can be any age, at any time. I am sure a change in the law will save lives.”
Linzi Saunders, 21, bone marrow, heart and kidney
Linzi received bone marrow from her brother, a heart from a stranger and a kidney from a relative.
Her family have had their name on the donor register for years but she wants to thank those who supported the campaign to change the law.
Linzi, of Sunderland, says: “I am delighted opt-out has become law as I know how it feels to be waiting for an organ transplant. You take every day as it comes.
“This will give more people hope and those who want to be donors but haven’t signed up yet have the chance to save a life.
“To those who supported the campaign it has been overwhelming and thank you… you are on the same page as us.”
Nadine Franics, 47, waiting for kidney
Nadine Francis, 47, has been on the transplant list for nine years after being diagnosed with advanced kidney failure. She spends four hours every other day on a hospital dialysis machine.
The rest of the time she is in such pain she can barely move. Son Romaine, 14, is her full-time carer.
Nadine, who moved from Jamaica to Croydon, South London, 19 years ago says: “Sadly, I am still on the transplant list but I cannot thank Daily Mirror readers enough for everything they have done to help raise awareness of people in my situation, in agonising pain and with no quality of life.
“This must change and Max’s Law finally feels like a lifeline.”
Vicky Horan, 43, three kidneys
Sporty Vicky was part of the “luckiest team alive”, the British Volleyball Transplant line-up who supported our campaign as they competed at the British Transplant Games in 2017.
Vicky, 43, a secretary from Bishop Auckland, Co Durham, received her mum Eileen’s kidney at 17, was given another at 21, then a third transplant at 32. She was about to represent Britain at the 2015 World Transplant Games in Argentina when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and had gruelling chemotherapy.
She says: “Well done to the Mirror for getting the message out there. Encouraging people to talk about donation is the most important thing.
“Max was the perfect example of why we need donors of all ages.”
Bob King, 73, heart
Wife Carrol still visits the grave of the patient who gave her husband a life-saving new organ.
Bob suffered a hereditary condition and had undergone two triple bypasses when he joined the donor waiting list.
A year later he was gravely ill when Stephen Wilkins, 38, died suddenly of a brain tumour in hospital.
His family knew he would have wanted to save lives and agreed for him to be a donor.
Bob and Carrol, 71, paid their respects at Stephen’s graveside for 19 years and struck up a friendship with his mum. Carrol says: “I’m thrilled this has become law.
“I thank the Daily Mirror for all you have done with this campaign. This will save lives.
“You are going to make so many more people’s lives a lot easier.
“It made us feel better to take part and speak out for the campaign. I still go to Stephen’s grave now.”
Bob died last year after a stroke. Carrol adds: “It was around 20 years after his transplant, but there was nothing wrong with his heart.”
Christine Cox, 56, whose brother’s organs saved 17 lives
Peter Cox posthumously inspired the first organ donor register, launched in 1994, after dying from a brain tumour at the age of 24.
Seventeen lives were saved with his organs.
His sister Christine, right, says: “I was delighted to hear the news that Max and Keira’s Law has finally gone through Parliament and is set to become law.
“How wonderful that 29 years after my campaign began we got there, which is fitting since it will be 30 years since my brother died.
“The Daily Mirror readers have made a huge contribution to this campaign.
“Thank you all so much. We really appreciate the part you have played.”
Ricky Moate, 34, bowel
Time was running out for Ricky who was born with his bowel outside of his body.
For years he had waited for a transplant and had 66 major operations and hundreds of minor surgeries.
Last June a donor was found, just as doctors discovered his bowel had begun to die.
Ricky, 34, from Sheffield, says: “Knowing how close I was to dying has made this transplant more meaningful.
“It shows why it’s so important that we have enough donor organs. I’m up and down but I’m OK.
“I am a million times better than I was. I wouldn’t be here without it.
“The fact that we’ve help to change the law is only a good thing – nothing bad can come of this.”
Sonia Carey, 39, kidney
My transplant has “given me my children back,” says Sonia Carey from Bournemouth.
The mum-of-three was diagnosed with kidney disease at 14 and for three years was hooked up to a dialysis machine four times a day.
Although she was able to do this at home, it meant she was a prisoner there because her routine didn’t allow for a normal life.
Last February she finally got the kidney transplant she so desperately needed from a stranger on the organ donation register.
Sonia says: “Thanks to my donor I can now give all my time to my children.
“ I can just be normal and have my life back. I am so grateful.
“What the Mirror did is really important. It got people talking. Through telling my story and stories like mine, the law has been changed.”
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