YOUNG man who captured the hearts of the nation through his fight to raise awareness for organ donation has passed away after a lifelong struggle with cystic fibrosis.
Coen Ashton, 20, lost his life last night in Melbourne, his family have confirmed.
The relentlessly positive Queenslander received a double lung transplant when he was 15 years old, learning to laugh for the very first time.
But medicines necessary to help with his cystic fibrosis had damaged his kidneys and Coen was trying to get well enough for a kidney transplant prior to his death.
In a statement released by Donate Life, Coen’s parents Dawn and Mark Ashton and his brother Kai said Coen never wasted a single day of his short life.
“He loved sharing his zest for life and changed many people’s lives along the way. He enjoyed having everyone along to follow his life adventure,” they said.
“We will dearly miss him and the adventures he sent us on.
“There are no regrets, Coen never wasted a day.”
Donate Life said Coen had touched the lives of thousands of school children across Australia through speaking engagements.
“Every day he endeavoured to honour his donor and their family by encouraging Australians to think about organ donation,” the statement said.
“The staff of the Organ and Tissue Authority and DonateLife honour Coen’s life and his contribution to promoting awareness and family discussion about organ donation.”
Coen was a tireless advocate for organ donation and twice jet skied along the Murray River to sign up donors.
At the age of 15 he was able to breathe deeply for the first time in his life thanks to a double lung transplant. He said it took about 18 months to develop his chuckle.
“It was really weird,” he told The Courier-Mail earlier this year.
“It would sound like Donald Duck and then it would go to something else.
“And the one that I settled on, we had some friends around (one day) and they said, ‘You’ve got Bart Simpson’s laugh’.”
After the double lung transplant he described the experience as “alien-like”.
“It totally changed my life,” Mr Ashton said. “The words I actually used after transplant was: ‘This is alien-like. How can any human move like this without getting out of breath?’.”