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New CEO Takes Reins at Donate Life California

West Sacramento, Calif., April 19, 2017 – Long-time Sacramento resident Jim Martin has been named chief executive officer of Donate Life California, the nonprofit organization that administers the official state registry for organ, eye and tissue donors.

“With 14 million registrants, California has the largest organ, eye, and tissue donor registry in the world, but currently less than half the population of our state has signed up,” notes Monica Johnson, president of the Donate Life California Board and executive director of Sierra Donor Services, the organ procurement organization serving the Sacramento valley, located in West Sacramento. “Jim Martin comes to this important statewide position with a strong strategic background in advocacy work and building community partners, as well as fiscal planning, administration and project management. Under his leadership, we know we’ll be able to save even more lives thanks to transplantation.”

Currently 21,911 Californians – approximately 1 in 5 people on the US Waiting List – need an organ transplant to survive. Last year, 939 Californians became organ donors saving the lives of nearly 3,200 people. Tragically 1,045 people died waiting here because there aren’t enough donors.

“Jim looks forward to continuing our strong collaboration with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and seeking exciting new partnerships for Donate Life California, providing innovative ways for Californians to sign up on the Donate Life Registry,” Johnson added.

Martin says his plan of action begins with establishing the Donate Life California office in Sacramento and developing a strategic plan to build statewide advocacy. His overarching goal is to increase the number of Californian’s registering as organ, eye and tissue donors, through the DMV and online.

Previously Martin was executive director of Martin’s Achievement Place in Sacramento, a residential treatment program for at-risk foster boys.

“I’ve spent my entire life in the nonprofit service world – serving youth and families. I’m excited to continue serving families by creating opportunities for all Californians to sign up on the Donate Life California Registry and ultimately save lives. Organ, eye, and tissue donation is the ultimate act of humanity,” Martin said.

Donate Life California Honors Senator Ben Allen as Legislator of the Year

SAN DIEGO, Calif., April 4, 2017 – Donate Life California kicked off April as National Donate Life Month by recognizing California Senator Ben Allen as Legislator of the Year for his work on legislation in support of organ, eye and tissue donation. Donate Life California is the state’s nonprofit, state-authorized organ, eye and tissue donor registry.

Senator Allen also co-authored a Senate Resolution designating April 2017 as Donate Life/DMV Partnership Month in California, with Senator Tom Berryhill, who received a heart transplant in May 2001. The Donate Life California board of directors witnessed the resolution presentation on the Senate Floor.

“Donate Life California wants to recognize Senator Allen as Donate Life California’s Legislator of the Year for his leadership in authoring legislation that decriminalizes organ donation between HIV-positive donors and HIV-positive recipients,” said Monica Johnson, Donate Life California Board President. “The implementation of this bill allows us to honor the wishes of people with HIV who choose to be organ donors, and in doing so, saves more lives through donation and transplantation.”

Senator Allen authored SB 1408, which amends an outdated California statute to remove a provision that prohibited HIV-positive individuals from donating organs, thus bringing state law in line with federal law under the HOPE (HIV Organ Policy Equity) Act and allowing for organ donation between HIV-positive donors and HIV-positive recipients.

“I am honored to receive this award from Donate Life California, a wonderful organization that saves thousands of lives each year by promoting organ, eye and tissue donation. I am proud to be an ally in this worthy effort,” Senator Allen (D – Santa Monica) said.

National Donate Life Month, celebrated each April, is a national campaign aimed at encouraging the public to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor and to celebrate those who have saved lives through the gift of donation. This campaign is especially important in California, which has the longest waiting list but where only about 40 percent of adults are signed up to be organ, eye and tissue donors, putting California well below the national average of 50 percent.

The Donate Life California Organ & Tissue Donor Registry – which has grown from 9,000 when it launched in 2004 to nearly 14 million in April 2017 – offers hope to those on the waiting list who count on the kindness and generosity of others for the “gift of life.”

Earl Lovell of Suisun City, CA, a retired Navy veteran, husband and father, and was the picture of health until he suffered a “widowmaker” heart attack in June 2009 that so severely damaged his heart, he required a transplant. On August 1, 2012, Earl received a “new” heart, thanks to his donor, a 42-year old husband and father. “It is the greatest gift I could ever have received. I owe it to my donor and the family he left behind to tell the world of his unselfish act.”

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is an important Donate Life California partner, with 95 percent of California’s nearly 14 million registered organ, eye and tissue donors having checked “YES!” while applying for or renewing their California driver license or ID. Californians can also sign up on the registry 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:

  • 21,886 people are on the organ transplant waiting list in California; 118,368 are waiting nationally (i.e. one in five on the national organ transplant waiting list lives in California.)
  • More than 33,000 people in the U.S. begin new lives each year thanks to organ transplants (about 91 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.

Cathedral City Man to be Honored as an Organ & Tissue Donor Hero on the Donate Life Float in the 2017 Rose Parade®

Ishmiel Ward, an organ & tissue donor from Cathedral City, Calif. is Donate Life California's 2017 Donate Life Rose Parade float floragraph honoree.

Ishmiel Ward, an organ & tissue donor from Cathedral City, Calif. is Donate Life California’s 2017 Donate Life Rose Parade float floragraph honoree.

RIVERSIDE, Calif., Dec. 7, 2016 – Ishmiel Ward, a young Cathedral City man with a generous spirit and big heart, will be honored as an organ and tissue donor on the Donate Life float in the 2017 Tournament of Roses Parade®. Today, Ishmiel’s family put the finishing touches on a floral portrait of his likeness, called a floragraph, during a special unveiling ceremony with Donate Life California at the Riverside East office of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The Donate Life float, Teammates in Life, a Polynesian-style catamaran, will sail down the streets of Pasadena during the 128th Rose Parade® on January 2, 2017.

Ish, as his family called him, was involved in church and youth group activities, and expressed a desire to go into the military. However, in June 2011, at just 20 years old, his life was tragically cut short. Through their grief, Ish’s family decided to help others by donating his organs and tissue, saving the life of his great aunt in New York with a directed kidney donation. Ish’s lungs, liver, and other kidney saved three other people in Southern California; and his gifts of bone tissue helped countless others.

“We are a big, close family and we all saw organ and tissue donation as a way for him and us to pay it forward,” says Shirley Howell, Ishmiel’s aunt and manager at the Riverside East DMV office. “The pain of losing Ish will never go away. But, his last act as a donor is a comfort because we know he lives on in others.”

DL-DMV-10DMV and Donate Life California became state-authorized partners in 2006. Since then, more than 600,000 lives have been saved and healed thanks to registered organ, eye and tissue donors in California, 95 percent of whom checked “YES!” at the DMV.

“Every time I hear a story about a life-saving donation such as Ishmiel Ward’s, I appreciate the special meaning and impact our partnership has had for so many donor recipients and their families,” said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto. “I would like to personally thank Donate Life California for honoring a DMV family member on the Donate Life Rose Parade float.”

dlfloat_5w_300dpi_rgb“This year’s float theme reminds us that no one succeeds alone – and that’s reflected in our partnership with the DMV. They truly are our teammates in life. Without a doubt, we are saving and healing more lives thanks to the DMV,” said Tom Mone, Donate Life California board member, 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. “We are deeply grateful to the staff at the DMV, who help us spread the word about the life-saving power of organ, eye and tissue donation. They, along with all of the float’s sponsors, enable us to deliver life-changing messages on one of the biggest stages in the U.S., the Tournament of Roses Parade.”

More than 22,000 people in California await life-saving organ transplants. Despite the
vital need, only about 45 percent of adults in California are signed up to be organ, eye and tissue donors. 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.

Additional media contact: Tania Llavaneras, OneLegacy, tllavaneras@onelegacy.org, 213-503-9285

About the Donate Life Float in the 2017 Rose Parade®:

2017 Donate Life Float renderingThe 2017 Donate Life Rose Parade float, Teammates in Life, reflects the parade’s theme, “Echoes of Success,” by reminding us that no one succeeds alone. We all thrive by working together and pulling in the same direction. Donors save the lives of grateful recipients and help families heal, and it is the large community of registered donors that makes it possible to save thousands of lives across the country each year.

The float design depicts a spectacular Polynesian catamaran, which will be propelled by a team of 24 organ, eye and tissue transplant recipients rowing in unison with strength gained from their donors. The sails of the vessel will feature 60 floral portraits (floragraphs) of donors interwoven with Polynesian designs and patterns. Just as the donors’ gifts empower the lives of others, the sails help power the catamaran on its journey. Sixteen living donors will walk alongside the float carrying flowers in celebration of the life they have given to others and the quality of life they continue to enjoy themselves. The ocean waves will showcase 1,000 white Akito roses, individually dedicated in memory of specific donors. Vibrant i’iwi and ‘amakihi birds perch among the lush landscape of tropical flowers and palm threes while a pair of tikis, representing light and life, abundance and peace, peer out of the jungle. The float will exude life with colorful, exotic blooms grown in Hawai’i especially for the occasion. The float will sail down the streets of Pasadena during the 128th Rose Parade on Monday, January 2, 2017 at 8 a.m. (PST).

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.

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