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Donate Life California Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month by Encouraging Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation

SAN DIEGO, Calif., Sept. 15, 2013Donate Life California is encouraging Hispanics throughout the United States to register as organ, eye and tissue donors during National Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. National Hispanic Heritage Month commemorates and celebrates the contributions made by Hispanics across the United States and provides the perfect opportunity to make a life-saving difference by registering as a donor.

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Alfonso Garcia

Alfonso Garcia was 15 years old and training to be an amateur boxer when he got sick. His eyes and skin changed to a mustard-yellow color and he was so tired he couldn’t get out of bed. Doctors discovered the Northern California teen had a genetic disorder that caused his liver to shut down and if he didn’t get a liver transplant very soon he would die. About 24 hours after asking his father to call a priest to administer the last sacraments, a donor liver became available. A 22-year-old man had died as a result of a sinus infection. His liver saved Alfonso’s life – and other organs saved two others.

“I was on the edge of dying and, through a miracle, I am alive today,” said Alfonso. “It’s because of a donor and his gift.” Watch Alfonso’s story here or (English) here (Spanish).

Myths regarding donation continue to be major barriers preventing Hispanics from becoming registered donors and saving lives. Donate Life California has created a webpage dedicated to National Hispanic Heritage Month to encourage the Hispanic community to get the facts about organ, eye and tissue donation, talk about it with their family and friends, and help raise awareness using various social media tools.

Statistics

  • Nationally in 2012, the lives of nearly 4,000 Hispanics were saved through organ donation and transplantation; about 1,100 of those were in California.
  • Many thousands more Hispanics had their sight, health or mobility restored through corneal or tissue transplants.
  • Nearly 22,000 Hispanic patients are currently on the U.S. organ transplant waiting list; more than 8,000 are in California.

“Sadly, Hispanics are three times more likely than Caucasians to suffer from end stage renal failure and diabetes. Lack of available organs means longer waiting periods on transplant lists, years spent on dialysis, and sometimes death,” said Charlene Zettel, CEO of Donate Life California. “As with other minorities, Hispanics have the best chance for a successful organ transplant if the donor is of the same ethnic background.”

To register as a donor or for more information about how to get involved please visit www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org or www.doneVIDAcalifornia.org.

About Donate Life California:

Donate Life California is the nonprofit, state-authorized organ and tissue donor registry which records the decision to donate in a secure, confidential database that is searched by authorized organ and tissue recovery personnel at the time of an actual donation opportunity. It is administered by Donate Life California and California’s four nonprofit, federally designated organ recovery organizations: Donor Network West , Lifesharing, OneLegacy and Sierra Donor Services.

Contact:
Brianne Mundy
Program Manager
Donate Life California
619-563-5137
brianne@donatelifecalifornia.org

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