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Life is working out for Coen

03 Jul 2012

Life is working out for Coen Image

Docklands’ YMCA gymnasiums are doing their bit to help Coen Ashton prepare for a double-lung transplant when a suitable donor is found.

Fourteen-year-old Coen was born with cystic fibrosis and will die without new lungs.  

His parents and brother uprooted their lives in Queensland last October and moved to Docklands to be close to the Alfred Hospital for when the phone call comes alerting them that donor lungs have been found for Coen.

But if Coen is not strong enough to recover from the operation, the whole exercise will have been in vain.

And with only 20 per cent lung function, Coen can’t exactly go out for a jog.  His mum Dawn explained: “The only way he can build strength is in a gym because he can’t do cardio.”

But gymnasium users generally have to be 16 and Dawn said Coen was prevented from using the gym at Yarra’s Edge where the family is staying.

YMCA gym manager Andrew Ward came to the rescue after speaking with Dawn during a regular fitness class she was participating in.

“We were able to make a special arrangement for Coen to use our facilities,” Mr Ward said.  “We’re just happy to help.”

Coen said: “It’s a good place to come and hang out and build a bit of body strength. And it’s good to get my frustrations out too.”

Coen spends one or two weeks every month in the Royal Children’s Hospital where powerful antibiotics are fed directly into his heart in an attempt to keep his failing lungs free of infection.

Dawn said the YMCA was not the only Docklands business to support the family.  She said Lucas Real Estate had been fantastic in finding the family an apartment to live in.

The Yarra’s Edge community conducted a fundraising evening in February and raised $10,445 towards rental accommodation which allowed them to move from their boat in the marina.

Patient Travel Transfer Scheme funding to support the family has now come through from the Queensland Government so finance has now been removed from the long list of their concerns.

Of more fundamental concern is Coen’s deteriorating health and the anxiety that goes with not knowing when, or if, a suitable organ donor will be found.

“There’s been older and younger lungs come through but no one of Coen’s size and blood group,” Dawn said.

In the meantime, the Ashtons deeply appreciate the support they have received from the Docklands community and just love living here.

“We’re feeling very much at home in the apartment,” Dawn said. “What a great place to live.”

“The local businesses have been astounding in their support for us.”

“And being able to use the gymnasium will make a huge difference to Coen’s survival.”

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