Family of Barnstaple lung transplant teen welcome change in organ donation law

Barnstaple teenager Katie Gammon campaigned to raise awareness of organ donation before she died. Picture: Andy Keeble
Barnstaple teenager Katie Gammon campaigned to raise awareness of organ donation before she died. Picture: Andy Keeble

Katie Gammon’s family say teen would be ‘dancing in heaven’ at news of Max’s Law

Keira Ball. Keira Ball.

The family of a Barnstaple teenager who dedicated the final years of her life to raising awareness of organ donation has welcomed a landmark vote to back a major change in the law.

On Friday – two-and-a-half-years to the day that Katie Gammon died – MPs pledged their support for a private member’s bill paving the way for presumed consent for organ donation.

Katie Gammon, pictured with mum Angie Hart in 2012. Picture: Andy Keeble Katie Gammon, pictured with mum Angie Hart in 2012. Picture: Andy Keeble

Mum Angie Hart said Katie would be ‘dancing in heaven’ at the news.

“Katie campaigned a lot for organ donation and would have been so happy,” she told the Gazette.

Katie Gammon pictured after her double lung transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital in 2013. Katie Gammon pictured after her double lung transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital in 2013.

“This will make such a big difference to so many people; we know quite a few very poorly people out there who are waiting for a transplant and it’d be so nice if they got that call.”

Angie said cystic fibrosis sufferer Katie had waited an agonising 14 months for a double lung transplant in 2013.

Katie Gammon at one of the fundraising walks she helped organise. Picture: AW Photographic. Katie Gammon at one of the fundraising walks she helped organise. Picture: AW Photographic.

Her donor saved her life but Katie died in 2015, just days after her 17th birthday.

Before her death, she helped organise a number of sponsored walks along the Tarka Trail raising thousands-of-pounds for charity. In 2012, Katie joined forces with the Gazette to launch the Katie’s Appeal campaign to encourage people to sign the organ donor register.

Katie Gammon pictured with pupils of Ashleigh Primary School. Picture: Andy Keeble Katie Gammon pictured with pupils of Ashleigh Primary School. Picture: Andy Keeble

“We got two more years with Katie and those two years were amazing and she did so much,” said Angie.

“She did her donor proud every single day.”

Katie Gammon, pictured in 2013. Picture: Andy Keeble Katie Gammon, pictured in 2013. Picture: Andy Keeble

It is thought the new opt-out rules, known as ‘Max’s Law’, could save up to 500 lives in England a year.

Max Johnson, aged nine, from Winsford in Cheshire, was one of four people given life-saving transplants following the death of nine-year-old South Molton girl Keira Ball in an accident on the North Devon Link Road last July.

Katie and the Gazette launched an organ donor appeal in 2012. Katie and the Gazette launched an organ donor appeal in 2012.

Keira’s father Joe gave consent for her kidneys, heart, liver and pancreas to be donated. Max was saved by Keira’s heart.

North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones represented Keira’s family in Parliament and said the decision could serve as an inspiration to others.

He said: “It could ensure that others sign up for organ donation and will give strength to those who face similar circumstances.

“It is a story of how a very brave and very difficult decision to allow Keira’s organs to be donated has given life to four other people who otherwise would probably not be here today.

“That is surely the best possible argument for supporting the bill, which will ensure that more organs are available for donation. Keira’s and Max’s story demonstrates that more organs mean more saved lives.

“As I support the bill, which I will do at every stage, I will be thinking of Max and Keira.

“It is their bill and it is thanks to the brave decision taken by Keira’s dad on that most difficult of days that four more people have life who might otherwise have not.”

Keira was a passenger in a Vauxhall Vectra when it was in a collision on the A361 near West Buckland.

A fundraising page set up to support the family raised more than £14,000 in the wake of the crash.


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