Sixteen-year-old Coen Ashton, who is riding the length of the Murray on a jet ski, is hoping to inspire people to consider organ donation.JESS CRAIG February 28, 2014 4:33am
It’s not every day you travel the length of the Murray River on a jet ski, but Coen Ashton in the process of making the journey twice.
Coen, 16, was born with cystic fibrosis and received a double lung transplant in 2011 after years of struggling to breathe with his damaged lungs.
In 2010-11 he jet skied the 2000km length of the Murray River to promote organ and tissue donation.
Due to his health, constant treatments and promotions it took him seven weeks to complete the ride.
He signed more than 1000 new names to the Australian Organ Donor Register.
Now in the beginning stages of his second trip, Coen is back on his jet ski and heading upstream.
‘‘I want to get it done in seven days instead of seven weeks to prove the difference a transplant can make to someone’s life,’’ Coen said.
‘‘Having had the transplant, everything feels so different now.
‘‘CF is a lifelong condition, but the new lungs have helped.’’
Coen began his upstream journey at Goolwa in South Australia on February 22 and has stopped at Blanchtown, Renmark, Mildura, Robinvale and Barham.
The plucky teen whizzed into Echuca yesterday afternoon to meet some locals and share his story.
He’ll aim to finish the trip on Sunday at Yarrawonga.
He’s quick to point out that without his new lungs, he wouldn’t be on a jet ski.
‘‘I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for someone choosing to be an organ donor, and letting their family know their wishes,’’ Coen said.
‘‘I want as many people (as possible) to sign up to the organ donor register and let their family and friends know their wishes.
‘‘It’s so important.’’
Coen has been accompanied by 15 crew members, made up of his family and friends, and four other riders on jet skis join him daily.
‘‘The conditions have been really good, it’s been cold in the mornings, but the days have been beautiful and the river has been nice and flat.’’
Coen, who now lives in Queensland, grew up around Mannum and said he feels at home on the Murray.
For more information about Coen and organ donation, visit www.coenashton.com.au
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