A HEART transplant champion moved people to tears describing how his life was saved by a young schoolgirl he never met.

Winsford schoolboy Max Johnson spoke about his lifesaving surgery at a fundraising event at the Electric Church on Saturday to launch Organ Donation Week 2019.

The 11-year-old said he is only alive today thanks to Keira Ball, a nine year old girl, who tragically lost her life in a car crash.

Winsford Guardian:

Max is only alive today thanks to Keira Ball, a nine year old girl, who tragically lost her life in a car crash

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

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

Max showed pictures of how ill he was and told the audience: "My heart function was only 15 per cent. I was struggling to breathe, my heart was galloping and my tummy hurt.

Winsford Guardian:

Max says his heart transplant has given him the opportunity to do things he couldn't do

"I was extremely poorly. I weighed just three stone."

He recalled how his seven-year-old friend Evie died in hospital waiting for a transplant.

"On August 7, 2017, I received my new heart thanks to the wonderful Ball family," said Max. "My feelings about my heart are mixed. I feel sad that Joe and Loanna lost their daughter but very grateful that they said 'yes' and saved my life.

"They gave me the opportunity to do things I couldn't do, a second chance. I will make the most of my life, going on adventures and enjoying every minute. Keira will be there with me."

Winsford Guardian:

Max has vowed to make the most of his life, going on adventures and enjoying every minute and says Keira will be there with him

Keira's aunt Sarah Stewart also spoke at the event and described how the Devon schoolgirl loved nature and animals, even the tiniest insect.

Max's mum Emma, 49, said: "It was quite emotional. People were tearful.

"Keira's aunt said it had brought her family a lot of comfort knowing that Keira had gone on to save four lives. Her grandma Frances Canning explained how well Keira was looked after. People are often worried about the state of the body afterwards but she was able to reassure them. After the operation she said you wouldn't have known organs had been removed, she was wearing a pretty dress and had her hair done."

Winsford Guardian:

Max with his dad Paul, 45, mum Emma, 49, and brother Harry, 13

Max, who spearheaded a landmark change in organ donation, won a Child of Courage Pride of Britain Award after campaigning to save lives.

New legislation known as Max and Keira's law comes into effect in spring 2020 when consent for organ donation will be presumed unless people opt out.

But Emma stressed people still need to have a conversation with their loved ones.

"Share your wishes with your family," said Emma. "If your family know you want to donate your organs, they will give their blessing.

"You are far more likely to need an organ than donate. If you would be prepared to accept an organ for you or your loved one it might help you to decide whether you want to donate."

Children needing transplants wait 2.5 times longer than adults, she said, but she understands how difficult giving consent can be.

"It is such a devastating thing to lose a child," said Emma. "But many families regret saying no afterwards. A child could save nine lives."

Winsford Guardian:

Max and his family are very grateful to Keira's parents Joe and Loanna Ball for saving his life through organ donation

Emma wants to thank all the local businesses who donated raffle prizes including a holiday, which raised £430 for inspiredbykeira, a charity which supports families who have lost children.

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Emma, who volunteers as an organ donation ambassador, added: "Max has been very lucky. His surgeon said he was as close to death as you could ever possibly be.

"I am 100 per cent certain that if Keira's organ hadn't been donated Max wouldn't be here now. It is a really good strong match.

"I feel passionate about organ donation. If people knew more about the subject the consent rate might be higher and less people would lose their lives."

To register as a donor visit organdonation.nhs.uk