Double Lung Transplant Teen to Repeat 1,250-Mile Ride

Coen Ashton looks to complete a near 1,250-mile journey aboard a PWC 15 months after his double lung transplant. Image: Liam Kidston. News Limited

People can do amazing things particularly in the face of daunting circumstances. Australian 16-year-old Coen Ashton, who was born with cystic fibrosis, received a cut-down pair of lungs in October, 2012. The decision to alter the donor lungs came after fearing Ashton might die before a suitable donor lungs would become available. Thankfully, a pair of donor lungs became available before Ashton’s condition deteriorated to the point that doctors would’ve resorted to putting him on life support.

Fifteen months after the operation in Melbourne, Ashton is preparing to repeat a 2000km (1,240-plus-miles) PWC ride up the Murray River in February to mark DonateLife week – three years after he first completed the feat. According to, Ashton aims to finish the trip in seven days, instead of seven weeks.

“I want to show what a difference a transplant can make,” he said. “I can now laugh, run, walk for as long as I like. I can keep up with my mates and half of them, I can even beat.”

He continued, “Transplant isn’t a cure, but it’s a better life than what I had before. It’s 110 per cent improvement.”

Ashton encouraged more than 1,000 people to enlist into Australia’s organ donor registry during his previous Murray River adventure and hopes to double that this time.

“I want to get the message out that everyone can be a hero,” he said. “If you sign up to be an organ donor, you have the chance of saving up to nine lives. In my book, that counts as being a hero.”

His Murray River trip will begin on February 22, starting at Goolwa on the South Australian coast where he concluded his 2011 adventure. He hopes to finish in Yarrawonga, Victoria, on March 2.

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Kevin Shaw

Editor-in-Chief – Kevin Shaw is a decade-long powersports and automotive journalist whose love for things that go too fast has led him to launching The Watercraft Journal. Almost always found with stained hands and dirt under his fingernails, Kevin has an eye for the technical while keeping a eye out for beautiful photography and a great story.

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