Two boys impacted by organ donation join forces
THE son of an organ donor and a footy-fanatic recipient joined together to play a very important role at the weekend's Bulldogs v Raiders match.
Max Bishop, 11, and Ollie Ackerman, 6, were given the honour of walking out together to deliver the match ball at the Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday night where the Bulldogs won 16-12.
Ollie's father James, a Sunshine Coast Falcons player, tragically died in 2015 two days after he was knocked unconscious by Francis Molo during a Queensland Cup game.
Ackerman's organs were donated and since then his family has been working tirelessly to encourage others to do the same.
In November 2016, Max underwent a liver transplant after being diagnosed with vanishing bile duct syndrome, a rare illness that left him with only 11 per cent of the duct.
Within four-and-a-half months they had found a donor.
Max's mother Caroline Masson said her son was a keen Bulldogs fan and loved the opportunity to meet all the players who signed his old jersey.
Sonya Ackerman, James' mother, said her grandson was a "bit daunted" when he first arrived on the grounds, but quickly settled in.
"He has some memories there of his daddy," she said.
"Once he met Max he felt a lot more confident that Max would look after him."
For Mrs Ackerman, the event was bittersweet with memories of her son intertwined with the joy of witnessing the impact of organ donation.
"It was emotional seeing Max," she said.
"I did cry and give him a big cuddle."
Mrs Ackerman said she had been inundated with people sending photos of their organ donor cards and saying they had signed up to donate on The James Ackerman Legacy Facebook page.
"It's just an amazing thing," Mrs Ackerman said.
"Somebody that can no longer use those organs can give them to someone else."
For Ms Masson, her son's journey impacted her friends family with many taking the plunge and signing onto the Australian Organ Donor Register.
She encouraged people to have the tough conversation with their family so when they pass their desire to donate their organs will be respected.
To become an organ donor, visit register.donatelife.gov.au.