Cystic fibrosis sufferer Coen Ashton visits Tocumwal as part of his 2000km jet ski journey.March 12, 2014 4:25am
Coen Ashton (centre) with locals (back, from left) Emma Alexander, Alex, Laura and Tom Hatty, Jesse and Helen Barker, and Jock Hatty.
Cystic fibrosis sufferer Coen Ashton has pushed past his illness and jet skied the Murray River for the second time.
The 16 year-old finished the 2000km journey in Mulwala on Sunday, March 2 and was in Tocumwal the day before greeting locals at the old boat ramp.
Tocumwal woman Helen Barker said it was a great opportunity for everyone involved.
From Maryborough in Queensland, the teen’s journey came after a double lung transplant last year and coincided with DonateLife Week 2014 (23 February – 2 March).
Coen said he hopes his efforts encourage all Australians to have the chat that saves lives and ensure the organ and tissue donation decisions of loved ones are known.
‘‘I was born with cystic fibrosis, which made it really hard to breathe. I was suffocating and couldn’t laugh without painful coughing, and I could only dream of running, let alone jet skiing,’’ he said.
‘‘I had to wait for a long time for a new set of lungs. Now with my new lungs I’ve come back to jet ski the Murray to prove to everyone that being an organ donor and knowing the wishes of your loved ones is essential — it saved my life.
‘‘If you have decided to become an organ and tissue donor, you need to register your decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register and most importantly, have the chat with your loved ones.
‘‘In 2011, I helped get 1000 new names on the Organ Donor Register. This year I’d like to double that number.
‘‘It’s important that people understand that by becoming an organ and tissue donor they could one day transform the lives of 10 or more people.’’
Coen’s adventure saw him jet ski the entire navigable section of the Murray River from Goolwa on the South Australian coast to Yarrawonga in country Victoria, shadowed by his mother Dawn, father Mark and younger brother Kai in a support vessel.
‘‘Coen’s Murray journey mirrors the challenging path he and many other young Australians with cystic fibrosis face as they struggle to take part in simple activities most of us take for granted,’’ Cystic Fibrosis Australia CEO David Jack said.
‘‘Coen’s story is an inspiration for everyone on the transplant waiting list, including those with cystic fibrosis and his message of hope and courage cannot be ignored.
‘‘For many people like Coen, a lung transplant is their only hope. The good news is that breakthrough medication is being developed to turn off the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis.
‘‘Medication that stops cystic fibrosis in its tracks is the key to avoiding lung transplants for many people with cystic fibrosis.’’
Cystic fibrosis is the most common genetic life-threatening disease affecting Australian children.
Affected from birth, people with the condition have difficulty breathing due to a build-up of mucus that clogs their lungs and digestive system.
Coen’s Murray voyage begun on Saturday, February 22 and finished with a party in Yarrawonga at the Mulwala Water Ski Club on Sunday.
The project was sponsored by the Organ and Tissue Authority, who also lead DonateLife Week, the national awareness week to promote organ and tissue donation in Australia.
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