Coen was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when he was only three years old and was first admitted to hospital at the tender age of 15 months. Since then, he has spent much of his life undergoing two week long “tune-ups” of antibiotics at various hospitals, sometimes no more than six weeks apart.
At age eight, Coen contracted an unusual lung problem and developed insulin dependant diabetes, which hospitalised him until he was nine. It was here, confined to a wheelchair, that Coen discovered his passion for anything with a motor, swapping his wheelchair for a quad bike.
While waiting for a double lung transplant, which was deemed non-critical at the time (preventing him from being on the waiting list), he decided to jet ski up the biggest river in Australia, which turned out to be a 2000km trip up the Murray. This first trip took seven weeks, as he required several hours a day of treatments, physio and various drugs.
A month afterward he was deemed unwell enough to be put on the waiting list. The entire Ashton family moved down to Melbourne and began taking bets on how they’d be waiting for new lungs.
They expected about a six month wait. In the end, it took more than 13 months to find a donor and then deal with various heart complications.
Determined to continue raising awareness about organ donation and keen to beat his record, Coen attempted to beat his previous record by 42 days, just to show what a profound difference a transplant can make in someone's life.
The seven day trip only had one major mishap, when the crew took a wrong turn and ended up out of fuel down an unknown river. Thankfully using Spatial Vision’s maps, the support crew were quickly able to locate the river crew and get them back on course.
Spatial Vision has legacy of supporting such ventures in Victoria, with its range of popular outdoor recreation guides.
Every year, 359 organ donors help save the lives of more than a thousand Australians. Despite this, Australia has one of the lowest rates of organ donorship in the world. You can register here.