A HEART transplant champion who spearheaded a landmark change in organ donation is being honoured by sportsmen who, like him, are only alive thanks to a gift from a stranger.

Winsford schoolboy Max Johnson has been chosen as a mascot by the England and Wales Transplant Cricket team, who have all undergone lifesaving transplant surgery, when they compete against Barnton Cricket Club on Sunday.

Winsford Guardian:

The England and Wales Transplant Cricket team has invited Winsford heart transplant schoolboy Max Johnson, 11, to be their mascot at a match at Barnton Cricket Club on Sunday

The 11-year-old - named a Child of Courage in the Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards last year - will bowl the first ball wearing a cricket shirt with his name emblazoned on it.

New legislation know as Max and Keira's law, after Max and the girl who saved his life, comes into effect next year.

Winsford Guardian:

Max Johnson will present the #passiton shield at the England and Wales Transplant Cricket match on Sunday with his brother Harry, 14

From spring 2020, consent for organ donation will be presumed unless people opt out.

It is hoped that up to 700 lives a year could be saved by increasing the number of organs available.

Winsford Guardian:

Max Johnson had a go at snowboarding at the Transplant Sports for Kids weekend in Kendal

Max's mum Emma, 49, said: "Max was really excited when the cricket team asked him to be a mascot. He finds it really inspiring when he meets adults who have had a transplant years ago. He realises he can now live a healthy life."

Max was only eight when he suddenly fell ill and was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy.

Winsford Guardian:

Max Johnson is now doing really well but was only eight when he was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy

Doctors implanted an electric pump to keep him alive but his health rapidly deteriorated.

Kiera Ball, from Devon, was nine when she was involved in a car accident - her organs saved four lives, including Max, who received her heart.

"Max wouldn't be here today if it hadn't been for Keira," said Emma. "We are thrilled that the law is in both their names, it is an expression of gratitude to Keira and her family.

Winsford Guardian:

'Max wouldn't be here today if it hadn't been for Keira'

"We hope this law change will get more people having a conversation. If your family know your wishes it makes the decision easier."

Barnton cricketer Stephen Harrison, 46, a member of the transplant cricket team, had a kidney transplant three years ago and invited Max to the match.

He said: "I was diagnosed with kidney failure when I was 18 but I was extremely lucky was only on the waiting list for 39 days.

"I love playing cricket. There's great camaraderie."

Jo Windridge, club manager of England and Wales Transplant Cricket Club, said: "Max is a huge inspiration for everything he has done to get the law going through.

"We want to show people what a huge difference transplant makes to people's lives. You can be fit and active. Being part of a team sport gives players the chance to share each other's experiences."

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The cricket match starts at 1pm on Sunday and all are welcome. Families are invited to bring a picnic.

There will be a bar and a raffle.