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Merry Christmas Coen

03 Dec 2012

Merry Christmas Coen Image

Christmas came early for Docklands’ Ashton family last month when a double-lung transplant donor was found for cystic fibrosis sufferer Coen, 15.

Coen came home to Yarra’s Edge on Thursday, November 29 after a month of recovery at the Alfred Hospital. He was frail, but in good spirits.

He is by no means out of the woods and will be under medical supervision for the rest of his life, but every day from now is a bonus.

The Ashtons came to Docklands from Queensland in October last year to begin their wait for an organ donation.  

Before a donor was found, Coen deteriorated to the point where medical authorities stopped testing his lung capacity and discussions had started about the next stage of being on life-support.

Coen’s mum Dawn explained that they had suffered a false-alarm a month previously so when the phone call from the hospital came at 8am one morning, the family was apprehensive.

“At 4pm the transplant nurse came in and said ‘it’s happening’ and Coen was wheeled in five minutes later,” Dawn said.

After a six-hour operation, Coen had a new set of lungs and his breathing tube was removed when he woke from an induced-coma the next morning.

The surgical team switched his lungs by prising apart his ribs (breaking a couple in the process) and, with five intravenous lines and four draining tubes, it was a very serious operation.

Coen is facing three months of three-days-per-week rehabilitation so the Ashtons aren’t making any plans yet to return to Queensland.

Coen said he didn’t feel weird at all about having someone else’s lungs inside him.

“When you buy a second-hand car, do you think about who owned it before you?” he said.

Dawn is encouraged by Coen’s great progress but it’s too early to pop the champagne.

She sincerely thanked the Docklands community for its support over the past year.  In February a fund-raising event was held at Yarra’s Edge contributed $10,445 for accommodation before Queensland Government funding kicked in.

“I have never lived anywhere where we have enjoyed as much support as we have experienced in Docklands,” she said.

“This was very unexpected as you would generally think that in the inner-city people would keep to themselves.”

“We’ve been blown away by the amount of support we have received.”

Established protocols prevent the Ashtons from knowing anything about the donor and they, too, are anonymous to the donating family.

“It’s a bitter-sweet situation,” Dawn said. “As happy as we are, we are very aware that another family is going through pain at their loss.”

“We hope we can make them proud, that we can be a family that can make the most of these lungs,” she said.

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