A brave couple who lost their baby son after he received a new heart are backing organ donation despite their tragic loss.
Lauren Bell, 25, partner Rich Jewson, 24, and their families have signed up to the Organ Donor Register.
They support the Mirror-backed Max and Keira’s Law – introduced on May 20 after our four-year campaign – as they encourage other parents to talk about the gift of life.
Lauren and Rich continue to raise awareness even after the tragic loss of son Cole, who died in March when he was eight months old.
“Organ donation is a chance for life,” said Lauren, of Hartlepool, Co Durham.
“It did not work for Cole. But we are still so grateful to his donor, she was a one-year-old girl.
“We knew that Cole needed a new heart and he went on the list at six months old.
“We only waited two months for the transplant operation.
“He was in hospital his whole life – he never came home.
“But there were babies in the unit with Cole who did really well.”
Nicknamed Coley Bear, their little boy was treated at Newcastle Freeman Hospital, where Mirror boy Max Johnson, 12, underwent his heart transplant in 2017.
Lauren added: “It is really, really important that we get the
message out there on organ donation.
“Many people have a different experience to us, their children have a normal life. That is why we are behind Max and Keira’s Law, 100 percent.”
The Cole Jewson Foundation UK has been set up to help bereaved parents by giving them memory boxes.
Lauren and care home worker Rich, who also have a daughter Esme, three, praised British Heart Foundation research.
Lucy Martin, a BHF Senior Cardiac Nurse, said: “Although Max and Keira’s Law was introduced in England earlier this year, there are still currently over 340 people in the UK waiting for a heart or a heart and lung transplant.
“Elsewhere in the UK, Wales already has an opt-out system,
Scotland’s opt-out system comes into force in March 2021 and the Northern Irish health minister recently announced he’ll hold a consultation on the system.
“While opt-out systems provide a lifeline to the thousands of people waiting for an organ transplant, people need to talk to their loved ones about their organ donation decision.
“We know this can be a difficult conversation to have, but your decision could be the difference between life and death.”
Max and Keira’s Law is named in honour of Mirror boy Max, 12, of Winsford, Cheshire, and his heart donor Keira Ball, nine, who tragically lost her life in a car accident near her home in Barnstaple, Devon, in 2017.
It means everyone is understood to be an organ donor when they die unless they have opted out of the new system.
The BHF funds vital research into heart and circulatory disease.
Covid-19 has cut their ability to fund new research by half but heart and circulatory disease is still the world’s biggest killer.
If progress slows, more lives will be at risk.