Coen to tackle new challenge
A FORMER Sunshine Coast teenager with cystic fibrosis is preparing to repeat his inspiring jetski trek along the Murray River.
Coen Ashton, who now lives in Maryborough, took seven weeks to travel the river in 2011 to raise awareness of tissue and organ donations.
He is preparing to repeat the journey in just seven days, despite undergoing a double lung transplant since his last effort.
The 16-year-old will tackle the 2000km journey during DonateLife Week, which begins on February 23.
"I was born with cystic fibrosis which made it really hard to breathe. I was suffocating and couldn't laugh without painful coughing, and I could only dream of running, let alone jetskiing," Coen said as he prepared for his new adventure.
"I had to wait for a long time for a new set of lungs.
"Now with my new lungs I'm coming back to jetski the Murray to prove to everyone that being an organ donor and knowing the wishes of your loved ones is essential - it saved my life.
"If you have decided to become an organ and tissue donor, you need to register your decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register and most importantly, have the chat with your loved ones.
"In 2011, I helped get a thousand new names on the Organ Donor Register. This year I'd like to double that number."
Coen and his family left the Sunshine Coast almost six years ago but the former Coolum Beach Christian College student still enjoys plenty of support from his former home.
He will jetski the entire navigable section of the Murray River from Goolwa, on the South Australian coast, to Yarrawonga, in country Victoria.
He will be shadowed by his mother Dawn, father Mark and younger brother Kai in a support vessel.
Cystic Fibrosis Australia CEO David Jack said Coen's journey mirrored the challenging path many young Australians with cystic fibrosis faced as they struggled to take part in activities most people took for granted.
"Coen's story is an inspiration for everyone on the transplant waiting list, including those with cystic fibrosis," Mr Jack said.