Max, who had heart failure, was awarded Child of Courage at the Pride of Britain awards.
We granted his wish to visit the KEF Loudspeaker factory to see how speakers are made in July 2018.
All wish children are extraordinary in their own way. Many have faced challenges that most adults will never have to face. A wish has the power to elevate a child from the depth of their illness.
This is Max’s story of courage and positivity. From heart failure to meeting the Prime Minister on national television for the Pride of Britain awards. From watching films in a hospital bed to seeing a West-end musical, and so much more adventure.
Feeling the beat
10-year-old Max from Cheshire loves music speakers. Ever since he was a baby, he was fascinated - listening to the noises, feeling the vibrations, taking speakers apart, seeing how they work and putting them back together again.
“My dad loves vinyl and that’s influenced me. I’m into a lot of different music. Everything except blues and heavy metal!”
In the Autumn of 2016, Max was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy. A virus was attacking his heart, causing it to enlarge.
He spent the next month in bed on the intensive care children’s unit. Max’s heart was beginning to fail. Functioning at just 15% of its normal capacity, it affected all of his organs.
Doctors assessed him for a heart transplant, and fitted a temporary mechanical pump while he waited on the transplant list. Without the pump, he would have died.
Mum Emma remembers, “It was awful, such a shock. Once Max was on the urgent transplant list we got into a weird routine of swapping shifts looking after the children, it was very difficult.
It took 206 days to get the call. I just kept thinking, ‘Will we ever get the call, will he be strong enough?’ Then in August 2017 at 2:30am we got the call.
Power of positivity
“Thankfully, the transplant was a success. Although Max will be immune-supressed for the rest of his life and that has serious implications, he’s gone from strength to strength since his transplant.
He has many physical scars, but his positive personality has helped him. It wasn’t always easy – there were times when he couldn’t eat, he had infections, missed a year of school and even had an anaphylactic shock to one of the antibiotics.
“The play specialist put in a referral for Make-A-Wish. I thought it was only for terminally ill children, but they explained to me it was for children who have been through difficult illnesses like Max’s.
A wish come true
“Whenever we’d go into a pub, even when Max was in a pram, he was looking out for the speakers, so it wasn’t a surprise when the Wish Visitors came round and the idea of visiting a speaker factory came up.
"Max used to watch Matilda on film over and over in hospital, so that got discussed too. We couldn’t believe it when our Wishgranter Lucy told Max that both his wishes could be rolled into one. We were very grateful.”
Exploring the factory
Wishgranter Lucy arranged for Max to visit the KEF Loudspeaker factory in July 2018. The only time they ever allow visitors inside for tours is for business customers.
Max says, “It was an amazing experience – the factory was different to what I was expecting. Ron, the Head of Marketing, was our guide for the whole day and he explained how everything worked, from design to shipment of the speakers. There was a sub woofer that rattled the whole factory, and an anechoic chamber – a room where all sound is absorbed.
"After, we went in the limo to see Matilda in London, and also on the London Eye.”
Mum Sam adds, “Max was in seventh heaven…he got to experience something he never would have otherwise got to experience. It was a beautiful wish package and a remarkable experience.
"We had nice meals thanks to the spending money provided by Make-A-Wish. It was just relaxing, very special and totally different for us.
"We will never forget it. It felt like a little reward after all the suffering our family has been through, it was something pleasant at the end of something very unpleasant."
A Pride of Britain award
Max has also been part of a campaign on organ donation with the British Heart Foundation, researching ways to decrease the side effects of being immune-supressed and has successfully campaigned for a change in the law on organ donation
The family read in the newspaper that Max had been nominated for the Child of Courage award at the Pride of Britain awards and, in October, mum Sam received a call to say Max had won and they needed to keep it secret from Max for four weeks in order to surprise him on camera in London!
Ashley Banjo from Diversity was ‘busking’ in Trafalgar Square. Max put some coins in his hat and he danced and said ‘you must be Max.’ They all went to 10 Downing Street, all the while Max had no idea what was going on. A tap on the shoulder, and Theresa May appeared. “You’ve won a very special award, Max,” she said!
Max’s story features on Pride of Britain 2018 on ITV on 6th November.