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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.

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