Marvel-obsessed Wesham man, 20, who dreamed of being a superhero saves lives by donating organs after tragic death

A young man with a passion for Dr Who, Marvel comic books and the colour pink became the superhero he’d always wanted to be after donating his organs when he died at just 20-years-old.

By Wes Holmes
Thursday, 9th December 2021, 3:45 pm
Updated Friday, 10th December 2021, 7:58 am

Antony McCracken, of Weeton Avenue in Wesham, set out his dreams of being laid to rest in a Tardis-shaped coffin shortly before he died of a heart attack on November 26 as a result of a serious muscle-wasting disease.

Antony, known as ‘Little Ant’, was born with duchenne muscular dystrophy, an incurable, progressive disorder which causes muscle degeneration and, eventually, breathing problems.

People living with the condition usually only live to see their 20s or 30s.

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Antony's funeral in Weeton today

His mum Becky McCracken, 39, said: “All the obstacles he had in his life, he faced them head on with a smile. He always said he was happy, even though he was very ill.

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“He was a massive Dr Who fan, he loved Marvel, and the colour pink was his favourite colour. He was a big animal-lover.

“By the time Antony died, he couldn’t do anything for himself. He had significant special needs. He had a lot to overcome, and he did all right with it; he always had a smile on his face.

Antony McCracken died on November 26 of a heart attack as a result of severe muscular dystrophy

“His condition was one that only gets worse, never better. It became progressively more difficult for him to get about and live his life, but he made the most of his time.

“We knew from a very early age that he wasn’t going to get better. He was two-years-old when I found out about his condition, so we had a lot of time to come to terms with what was going to happen.

“We knew that from the age of 18 he was living on borrowed time. So the past two years have been a significant time for us. But it doesn’t make losing him any easier.”

Antony’s funeral took place today at Christ Church on Garstang Road, Wesham, and was attended by his mum, dad Anthony, 38, sister Sheyenne, and brothers Calvin and Cohen, who also have duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Antony's funeral in Weeton today

As well as making his own plans for the ceremony, Little Ant made sure that his tragic passing would mean a second chance at life for two strangers, as he donated both his kidneys.

Becky, who was a carer for Antony and still cares for his younger brothers, said: “It gives me a little bit of warmth, knowing that two people will go home for Christmas because of him. It makes me feel like he has done something worthwhile. He always said he wanted to become a superhero, and now he has.

“Ant knew he was going to die. He dealt with it very well. He got on with it most days. He’d have the odd day where he’d ask certain things, like ‘will I get better?’ or ‘will I walk again?’ and we would have to tell him no. He only briefly asked them though, and most of the time he was happy.”

A fundraiser was set up in Little Ant’s memory to help pay for his funeral, which cost £4,000, has raised more than £1,000 so far.

Antony was laid to rest in a Tardis-shaped coffin of his own choosing

“We’re not a family that makes a lot of money, and it is a lot to ask for, but we were determined to give Antony the funeral he wanted,” Becky said.

“As a family we are extremely sad, but in some ways I’m relieved he’s not suffering any more, and he’s at peace. Things were very difficult for him towards the end. We knew it was coming. Every day I would dread getting that phonecall.

“It was still a shock when it happened. But we knew he was living on borrowed time. There aren’t many people who live to 30 with this condition, so we were lucky to have him for the time that we did.

“I have always cared for Antony, ever since I was 19. It has never been tough for me. It’s something I have always known, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

What is duchenne muscular dystrophy?

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is one of the most common and severe forms of MD, affecting approximately 1 in 3,500 male births worldwide.

The genetic condition causes the body’s muscles to progressively weaken, leading to a loss of mobility, and eventually affecting the heart and muscles used for breathing.

People diagnosed with duchenne MD usually only live into their 20s or 30s, as there is no cure.

In the UK, around 70,000 people have muscular dystrophy or a related condition, with duchenne being the most common type. In the UK, about 100 boys are born with Duchenne MD each year, and there are about 2,500 people living with the condition in the country.

Other common types of MD include myotonic dystrophy, which can develop at any age and does not always affect life expectancy except in severe cases, and facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy, which progresses slowly and is not life-threatening.

Myotonic MD affects around 1 person in every 8,000, while facioscapulohumeral MD is thought to affect around 1 in every 20,000 people in the UK.

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