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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Senator Allen authored SB 1408, which amends an outdated California statute to remove a provision that prohibited HIV-positive individuals from donating organs, thus bringing state law in line with federal law under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.

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