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Yearly Archives: 2015

Delano Man to be Honored as an Organ Donor Hero on the Donate Life Float in the 2016 Rose Parade®

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Sandra Gutierrez puts the finishing touches on the Floragraph honoring her brother, Michael Robles, as her family and Donate Life California CEO Charlene Zettel (left) look on. Michael is one of 60 organ, eye and tissue donors being honored on the 2016 Donate Life Rose Parade Float.

DELANO, Calif., Dec. 2, 2015 – Donate Life California and family of Michael Robles, a much-beloved Delano man, put the finishing touches on a floral portrait of his likeness, called a floragraph, during a special unveiling ceremony at the Delano office of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Michael’s floragraph will be placed on the Donate Life float, “Treasure Life’s Journey,” for the 2016 Rose Parade® in Pasadena on New Year’s Day.

Michael became a liver and kidney donor in April 2006 after suffering a sudden heart attack. The 53-year-old was known in the town of Delano for his Harley Davidson Motorcycle, his love of flowers, and his devotion to his family. He is one of 60 organ, eye and tissue donors being honored for their gifts of life on the 2016 Donate Life float.

(left to right) Donate Life California CEO Charlene Zettel; Sandra Gutierrez; Michael Robles' family

(left to right) Donate Life California CEO Charlene Zettel; Sandra Gutierrez; Michael Robles’ family

“I’ve always been so proud of Mike – proud to be his sister. And he would be proud of us for making the decision allowing him to be a donor,” said Sandra Gutierrez, who recently retired from the Delano DMV. “Our town is largely Hispanic and, while working at the DMV, I encountered many people who were hesitant to sign up to be organ donors. I told them my brother helped others to keep living.”

The DMV is an important Donate Life California partner, with 95 percent of California’s 12.7 million registered organ, eye and tissue donors having checked “YES!” while applying for or renewing their California driver license or ID.

Sandra Gutierrez and Donate Life California CEO Charlene Zettel

Sandra Gutierrez and Donate Life California CEO Charlene Zettel

“Michael took good care of his family before his death. Now, he’s taking good care of others through organ donation,” said Charlene Zettel, Donate Life California CEO. “With his gifts of life, he leaves a legacy of kindness and generosity – something we wish for all Californians. Donate Life California is proud to sponsor Michael’s floragraph for the Donate Life Float. We hope the millions watching the Rose Parade will be inspired by his story and choose to Donate Life.”

“The act of organ and tissue donation weaves together a tapestry of donors and recipients, of hope and remembrance, and beloved family and friends who live on through the most miraculous of gifts,” adds Tom Mone, Chairman of the Donate Life float committee and CEO of OneLegacy, the nonprofit organ, eye and tissue recovery organization serving the greater Los Angeles area. “The riders, walkers, and floragraph honorees who will accompany the 13th annual Donate Life float each have an amazing story to tell.”

More than 22,000 people in California await life-saving organ transplants. Despite the vital need, only about 40 percent of adults in California are signed up to be organ, eye and tissue donors, putting California well below the national average of 50 percent. In addition to the DMV, signup on the registry is available at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org.

Each day in the U.S., 22 people die waiting because the organ they needed did not come available in time. Organs needed for transplant are heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas or intestine.

Tissue transplants, meanwhile, save and heal lives. Tissues for transplant include cornea, skin, heart valves, bone tissue, tendons, veins, ligaments and cartilage. More than a million tissue transplants are done each year, and the surgical need for tissue has been steadily rising. Corneal transplants restore sight to nearly 50,000 people each year.

Fast Facts from Donate Life California:

  • One in five on the U.S. organ transplant waiting list lives in California.
  • All major religions support or permit organ, eye and tissue donation.
  • You’re never too old or sick to be a registered organ, eye and tissue donor.

About the Donate Life Float in the 2016 Rose Parade®:

The 2016 Donate Life Rose Parade Float, “Treasure Life’s Journey,” represents the journey of new life, health and adventure that begins with every donation of organs, eyes and tissue. In their passing, deceased donors open up a world of health to grateful recipients and empower them to contribute to their families, communities and future generations. Donor families find comfort by helping life go on in a remarkable act of love and caring for people they never knew. And Living Donors heroically give of themselves to help friends, family and even strangers. Through its endless power to save, heal and enhance lives, donation is truly the journey of a lifetime. Now in its 13th year, the Donate Life Float is the world’s most visible campaign to inspire organ, eye and tissue donation.

About Donate Life California

Donate Life California is the nonprofit, state-authorized organ, eye and tissue donor registry. Individuals can add their name to the registry by checking “YES!” every time they renew/apply for their driver license or ID card at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This ensures their desire to donate life will be carried out. A pink “DONOR” dot is added to their driver license or ID as a symbol of their decision. Individuals can also sign up online at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org or www.doneVIDAcalifornia.org. As a public service, the registry ensures all personal information is kept confidential and stored in a secure database, accessible only to authorized organ and tissue recovery personnel at the time of an actual donation opportunity. The registry is administered by Donate Life California and California’s four nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organizations (OPOs): Donor Network West, Lifesharing, OneLegacy and Sierra Donor Services.

Media contact: Brianne Mundy Page, brianne@donateLIFEcalifornia.org, 858-220-8351

Additional media resources: http://bit.ly/DLCMediaKit.

Donate Life California CEO Charlene Zettel to Retire

Search Underway for Successor

SAN DIEGO, Calif., Nov. 3, 2015 – Donate Life California, the state-authorized organ, eye and tissue donor registry, today announced that Charlene Zettel, Donate Life California’s CEO, will retire on January 15, 2016. The Donate Life California board of directors has begun the search for a successor.

“Charlene has provided tremendous leadership and direction to Donate Life California,” said Cindy Siljestrom, Donate Life California board president. “Her efforts have given hope to the thousands who wait for life-healing transplants. The search for her successor will be extensive and we are committed to finding the right person to fill this very important role.”

“It has indeed been an honor to lead this organization and work side-by-side with so many compassionate individuals who help to grow the registry and who make the miracles of organ donation and transplantation possible,” said Charlene. “My retirement is bittersweet – I look forward to new adventures but my heart will remain devoted to the life-saving mission of Donate Life California, our dedicated board of directors and staff.”

Charlene joined Donate Life California as CEO October 3, 2011. Under her leadership, the registry has grown from 8.5 million registered organ, eye and tissue donors to nearly 13 million. In addition, Charlene led several successful legislative efforts including the passage of two key bills: AB 1967 (J. Pérez, 2012), Organ Donation Education, and AB 2399 (J. Pérez, 2014), eRegistration. AB 1967 ensures that the health and science education frameworks include the subject of organ procurement and tissue donation, as appropriate. The goal is to educate California students about the importance of organ, eye and tissue donation so they are able to make informed decisions about registering as organ, eye and tissue donors when asked this mandatory question on their DMV driver license/ID card application form. AB 2399, or eRegistration, is the first law in the nation to allow a Donate Life organization to securely and electronically read encrypted information from a driver license/ID card via a mobile device for the purpose of registering individuals as organ, eye and tissue donors.

Charlene will continue to serve as a gubernatorial appointee on the Board of Regents of the University of California.

Charlene began her career in public service in 1992 when she was elected to the Poway Unified School District Board of Education. In 1998, she became the first Republican Latina to be elected to the state legislature. In addition to elected state service, Charlene has served as the director of the San Diego Office of the Governor, as a public interest director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, as the director of the California Department of Consumer Affairs, and as an executive board member of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

Individuals interested in the CEO position may learn more at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org/careers/.

Californians can register to be donors by checking “YES!” at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or by signing up at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org.

Fast Facts from Donate Life California:

  • One in five on the national organ transplant waiting list (122,640) lives in California.
  • More than 29,000 people in the U.S. begin new lives each year thanks to organ transplants (about 81 transplants every day).
  • 22 people die each day because the life-saving organ they needed did not become available in time.

About Donate Life California:

Donate Life California is the nonprofit, state-authorized organ, eye and tissue donor registry. Individuals can add their name to the registry by checking “YES!” every time they renew/apply for their driver license or ID card at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This ensures their desire to donate life will be carried out. A pink “DONOR” dot is added to their driver license or ID as a symbol of their decision. Individuals can also sign up online at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org or www.doneVIDAcalifornia.org. As a public service, the registry ensures all personal information is kept confidential and stored in a secure database, accessible only to authorized organ and tissue recovery personnel at the time of an actual donation opportunity. The registry is administered by Donate Life California and California’s four nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organizations (OPOs): Donor Network West, Lifesharing, OneLegacy and Sierra Donor Services.

Contact: Brianne Mundy Page, 858-220-8351, brianne@donateLIFEcalifornia.org

California Peace Officer Heroes to be Honored on the Donate Life Float in the 2016 Rose Parade

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 9, 2015 – Families of fallen California law enforcement officers were honored today during a special Donate Life Rose Dedication Ceremony at the California Highway Patrol Academy in West Sacramento, hosted by Donate Life California, the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation and the California Highway Patrol. The families were presented with certificates and roses in honor of their loved ones’ service and sacrifice, and were invited to write dedications that will be placed with roses on the Donate Life Float in the 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade® held in Pasadena on New Year’s Day.

“This ceremony recognizes the tremendous role law enforcement officers have in our communities – not just in their protection of our lives and property, but through organ, eye and tissue donation as well,” said Charlene Zettel, Donate Life California CEO. “All officers who have dedicated their lives to ensure our safety are heroes for their service and sacrifice. Many also become donor heroes when they become organ, eye and tissue donors.”

CHP Officer Kenyon Youngstrom was killed in the line of duty in September 2012. He saved four lives as an organ donor and healed dozens more through his gifts of tissue.

“Kenyon believed in helping people, it’s why he wanted to work in law enforcement,” said Karen Youngstrom Simmons, Officer Youngstrom’s widow. “When he died, I knew he wanted to be an organ and tissue donor. He was a servant and felt that if his body could be of use to others when it was no longer useful to him, then he would be happy to serve. While the pain of losing him is still very real, knowing he is still helping other people is healing.”

“Every day, our officers deal with life and death matters,” CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said.  “It is so heartwarming to participate in this ceremony that recognizes how an officer’s ultimate sacrifice can continue to give life.”

Organ donation saved the youngest son of former Antioch police sergeant, Kelly Ouimet. Battling for his life, Matthew received a liver and a kidney transplant at just two years of age and is now an active four-year-old.

“Our lives have been greatly impacted by law enforcement and organ donation – both have defined us as individuals and as a family,” said Kristi Ouimet, Matthew’s mother. “Law enforcement officers are dedicated and compassionate people who serve their communities with integrity and sacrifice. Organ, eye and tissue donors are generous and selfless people who give others a second chance at life. I can’t think of more honorable ways to serve others.”

“Losing an officer in the line of duty is a tragedy and one that isn’t forgotten,” said Wayne Quint, Executive Director of the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation. “Organ, eye and tissue donations by peace officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice are a final act of selflessness and heroism, ensuring their legacy lives on.”

The families of the following fallen officers, in order of End-of-Watch (EOW) date, were in attendance at today’s ceremony:

Officer Stephan Gray, Merced Police Department, EOW 4/15/04
Officer John P. Miller, CHP – Dublin, EOW 11/16/07
Officer Kenyon Youngstrom, CHP – Contra Costa, EOW 9/5/12
Officer Kevin A. Tonn, Galt Police Department, EOW 1/15/13
Detective Sergeant Thomas A. Smith, Jr. Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police Department, EOW 1/21/14
Officer Juan Gonzalez, CHP – Fresno, EOW 2/17/14
Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, EOW 3/19/14
Officer Jordan J. Corder, Covina Police Department, EOW 9/30/14

The names and biographies of all California peace officers who have died in the line of duty can be found at www.camemorial.org under the “Honor Roll” tab.

About the Donate Life Float in the 2016 Rose Parade®:

The 2016 Donate Life Rose Parade Float, “Treasure Life’s Journey,” represents the journey of new life, health and adventure that begins with every donation of organs, eyes and tissue. In their passing, deceased donors open up a world of health to grateful recipients and empower them to contribute to their families, communities and future generations. Donor families find comfort by helping life go on in a remarkable act of love and caring for people they never knew. And Living Donors heroically give of themselves to help friends, family and even strangers. Through its endless power to save, heal and enhance lives, donation is truly the journey of a lifetime. Now in its 13th year, the Donate Life Float is the world’s most visible campaign to inspire organ, eye and tissue donation.

Fast Facts from Donate Life California:

  • 22 people across the country die each day awaiting life-saving organ transplants.
  • One in five on the U.S. organ transplant waiting list lives in California.
  • All major religions support or permit organ, eye and tissue donation.
  • You’re never too old or sick to be a registered organ, eye and tissue donor.

About Donate Life California

Donate Life California is the nonprofit, state-authorized organ, eye and tissue donor registry. Individuals can add their name to the registry by checking “YES!” every time they renew/apply for their driver license or ID card at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This ensures their desire to donate life will be carried out. A pink “DONOR” dot is added to their driver license or ID as a symbol of their decision. Individuals can also sign up online at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org or www.doneVIDAcalifornia.org. As a public service, the registry ensures all personal information is kept confidential and stored in a secure database, accessible only to authorized organ and tissue recovery personnel at the time of an actual donation opportunity. The registry is administered by Donate Life California and California’s four nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organizations (OPOs): Donor Network West, Lifesharing, OneLegacy and Sierra Donor Services.

About the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation

The California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation is a nonprofit charitable foundation whose mission is to recognize and honor California’s peace officers who gave their lives ‘In the Line of Duty’ serving the citizens of this great state, and provides support to the family members left behind. For more information, go to www.camemorial.org.

About the California Highway Patrol

The mission of the California Highway Patrol is to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security to the people of California.

Media contact: Brianne Mundy Page, 858-220-8351, brianne@donateLIFEcalifornia.org

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