Max and Keira’s Law
1233. Max Johnson
Max Johnson, aged 11, from Cheshire, inspired almost 15,000 people to sign a petition which has successfully brought into law 'The Organ Donation Deemed Consent Bill', also known as an 'opt-out' organ donation system, in England and Northern Ireland, which will become law from Spring 2020.
Max waited almost seven months for a new heart after being diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, which caused his heart to enlarge, triggering end stage heart failure. Max’s story was featured on a BBC2 documentary ‘Heart Transplant – A Chance To Live’, in the first ever heart transplant operation aired on television. The programme inspired nearly a 500 per cent rise in organ donor register sign ups overnight following the broadcast, and inspired the Government to support the new legislation. This legislation was passed in February this year, gaining Royal Assent in March, and named ‘Max and Keira’s Law’ in honour of Max and Keira Ball, whose heart was donated to Max, after a tragic car accident. Max has worked closely with the British Heart Foundation on their Lifeline Appeal to encourage families to talk about their wishes and sign up to the organ donation registry, and to support the charity’s work. He also raises awareness and fundraises for ‘InspiredbyKeira’, the charity set up in memory of Keira Ball to promote organ donations and support families who have lost children, and won a Pride of Britain ‘Child of Courage’ award in October 2018.
In a personal letter to Max, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“The powerful story of your heart transplant has inspired thousands of people to join the organ donation register, and I was honoured to support Max and Keira’s Law. The changes made, because of your campaign, will save countless lives and I wish you every success as you continue to encourage families across the UK to talk about organ donation.”
Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said:
“Max’s bravery and determination are an inspiration to us all. It’s no exaggeration to say that Max and Keira’s Law, which resulted from Max’s tireless campaigning, will save and improve the lives of hundreds of people in need of an organ transplant. Many congratulations to Max from all of us at the British Heart Foundation on his well-deserved Point of Light award.
“There are 320 people in the UK waiting for a new heart, but one in six do not receive the life-saving heart transplant they need. It’s vital that people talk with their loved ones about what they want to happen to their organs when they die. It could literally be the difference between life and death.”
“I feel like this is very special and makes me feel happy! Thank you to Prime Minister Theresa May’s support in changing the organ donation rules. Please understand your loved ones’ wishes and have the conversation about organ donation.”
Watch Max playing cricket as Mascot of the England Wales Transplant team made by NHS Organ Donation
Picture credit: Mirror Newspaper Group