Coen Ashton, who at 13 became the youngest person to jet-ski the 2000-kilometre length of the Murray River before getting a double lung transplant, has moved to Newport as he awaits a kidney transplant.
Now 19, Coen, who has cystic fibrosis and insulin-dependent diabetes, continues on his mission to raise organ donation awareness.
His family has moved to Melbourne from Queensland to be close to The Alfred hospital.
Coen’s work has so far resulted in more than 1000 people signing up as organ donors.
When he was 12, his doctors told him he was too well to get on the transplant list.
“There’s a very fine gap for a transplant – you can’t be too sick because you won’t make it and you can’t be too well because obviously you don’t need a transplant,” Coen said. “They said that I was a little bit too well to get a transplant.
“To a 12-year-old kid that was, ‘Well I’ve got lungs to burn’. So I went and jet-skied the length of the Murray River.”
It took him seven weeks to complete the journey, between receiving about three to four hours of treatment each morning and night.
“I only had about 30 per cent of my lungs,” he said.
“I should have been a kid just laying there on oxygen, asleep.”
He achieved his objective of getting 1000 people to sign up to the Australian organ donor register.
Six months after receiving a double lung transplant at 15, Coen jet-skied the Murray a second time to show the difference a transplant could make. This time, it took him seven days.
Coen said anyone could be a hero by being an organ donor.
“If you become an organ donor, you can save up to nine lives – in my book, that’s a hero,” he said. “My donor, my hero. Everyone says, heaven knows we need them here – and I’m living proof of that.”
Follow Coen’s journey on Facebook or by visiting www.coenashton.com.au.