'Max And Keira's Law' Makes All UK Adults Organ Donors By Default

The U.K. is getting a powerful new law to save lives, making all adults in the nation organ donors by default, according to the BBC.

Inspired by the touching story of Max Johnson and Keira Ball, Max and Keira's Law will require anyone who does not wish to donate their organs to opt out after they turn 18.

In 2017, Keira Ball lost her life in a car crash.

Facebook | Loanna Ball

She was just nine years old, and little did she know, her short life would go on to make a massive impact. Her parents said that they hadn't thought about organ donation, but that it seemed like the right thing for her.

Her dad, Joe, called her "the most thoughtful little girl," who gave up her candies when her siblings fought over who would get the last one, and for her, organ donation just seemed right.

"She had the kindest heart and was the most thoughtful person. I knew she would have wanted to help make other people better."

When Keira passed away, another nine-year-old, Max Johnson, was in some serious difficulty.


A viral infection had damaged his heart, leaving him with a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy, in which the heart muscle becomes stretched and thin.

The only option for him was a heart transplant. "It was absolutely awful being told Max would need a heart transplant," Max's dad Paul said. "The wait was agonising; as a parent you are desperately looking for reassurance from the medics but with organ donation it’s the one thing they can’t give you."

After eight months on the transplant waiting list, Max received Keira's heart.

Max is 12 now, thanks to Keira.


The two families met about a year after Max's transplant surgery.

"Meeting Max and his family bought us some comfort and it was really helpful to see how powerful organ donation is," Joe said. "Keira lives on in Max and the other people she helped and we are super proud of her."

Max's mother Emma said she felt a "huge wave of gratitude" toward Keira and her family "who under the most extraordinarily traumatic circumstances had the compassion and generosity to say 'yes,'" according to the BBC.

Keira's legacy lives on in more than just Max, however.

Facebook | Loanna Ball

She also donated her liver and kidneys, and so in all, she has saved four lives, and Max and his family, together with the Ball family, pushed to do even more for others on the transplant waiting lists in the U.K. by campaigning for a law to make organ donation opt-out rather than opt-in.

In 2018, the U.K. government announced it would make the change, even calling it Max's law; Max insisted, however, that the law should carry Keira's name as well.

The new law came into effect May 20, 2020 in England and Wales, while Scotland will adopt the new law starting in March 2021.

Facebook | Loanna Ball

The government estimates the change could save up to 700 more lives each year.

In 2019, about 400 people died while waiting for transplants, according to The Guardian, with almost 800 more removed from waiting lists because their conditions had worsened to the point that they would not be able to undergo transplant surgery.

Authorities are reminding citizens that they still have choices to make, despite the new law.

Facebook | Loanna Ball

In a statement, Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation, said that "It is important that people know they will still have a choice whether or not to donate. Families will still be consulted, and people’s faith, beliefs and culture will continue to be respected.

"We hope this law change will prompt all of us to consider whether or not we would want to donate our organs and encourage us all to register and share our decision with our family and friends."

Keira's mother, Loanna, says she's been "blown away" by the experience.


"Kiera was just such a special child and what she's done is just incredible," she told the BBC. "We're blown away and she inspires me every single day.

"I'm a bit lost for words with it all, I can't really believe it's happening. To think that Max and Kiera are part of that, Keira's legacy will be there forever."

h/t: BBC

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