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State organ and tissue donor registry reaches new record

Donate Life California and the California Department of Motor Vehicles on Tuesday announced a new record: 10 million Californians have signed up as organ and tissue donors through the state’s Donate Life California Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, the largest in the country.

“We celebrate this amazing achievement, but we have more work to do in order to save lives. Currently, only one out of every three eligible adults checks ‘Yes’ at the DMV because too many people rule themselves out. We want everyone to say ‘Yes’ to donation,” said Lisa Stocks, Donate Life California board president.

The continuing influx of new signups on the registry is due primarily to donation education and the convenience of signing up at the DMV.

As of July 1, 2011, it became mandatory for all Californians to check one of two boxes on their driver license or I.D. card application or renewal to indicate their commitment to donation.

As a result of the Donate Life California and DMV partnership, 94 percent of the state’s 10 million registered donors have come through the DMV.

“We at the DMV are once again extremely proud to be part of this great effort to continue increasing the number of potential organ and tissue donors. Each milestone reached reminds us of the lifesaving importance of our partnership with Donate Life California,” said DMV Chief Deputy Director Jean Shiomoto.

Since the registry was introduced in April 2005, donors who had registered prior to death have saved or healed more than 120,000 lives through organ and tissue donation. In so doing, they give hope to the nearly 22,000 Californians who are waiting today for lifesaving organ transplants.

The shortage of organs is not due simply to a lack of giving, but rather to the rarity with which the opportunity to donate organs presents itself. Less than 1 percent of deaths qualify for organ donation.

Donate Life California also announced a new specialty license plate initiative with official sponsorship from the California Highway Patrol. Proceeds from the license plates will help fund Donate Life California’s mission to save more lives and increase awareness of organ and tissue donation.

“The CHP is proud to sponsor this lifesaving initiative to promote Donate Life California and encourage Californians to consider becoming an organ and tissue donor,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “One of our officers, Kenyon Youngstrom, recently had his last wishes fulfilled by donating his organs following his death in the line of duty. The CHP has seen firsthand the impact that a donor decision can have on so many lives.”

Monday afternoon, Donate Life California held a reception to honor Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his steadfast commitment to raising awareness for organ and tissue donation and for supporting legislation to advance the Donate Life mission.

Speaker Pérez welcomed the new CHP partnership and hailed the Registry’s 10 Million milestone as a huge step forward in saving the lives of thousands of Californians on the transplant waiting list.

“These special license plates are a wonderful way for Californians to take pride in being an organ donor, and to encourage others to do so,” said Speaker John A. Pérez. “This is another phenomenal way to remind Californians that every one of us has the potential to give our friends, family and neighbors a new lease on life with a donated organ, and I am very grateful for every single Californian who makes the choice to do so.”

Also on Monday, Speaker Pérez invited Donate Life California leadership to the Assembly floor to accept a resolution designating April as Donate Life Month in California. It is just one of many resolutions and key legislation the Speaker has authored in support of organ and tissue donation.

In 2012 with AB 1967, he helped Donate Life California accomplish one of its highest legislative priorities – providing a means for students to receive education on organ and tissue donation.

Specifically, the new law ensures that California’s health and science curricula provide students with age appropriate and accurate information on organ and tissue donation so they can make an informed decision about signing up to save lives on the Donate Life Registry.

Speaker Pérez also authored a bill extending Medi-Cal coverage for post-transplant medications from one year to two years.

Donate Life California invites the public to help celebrate National Donate Life Month by participating in National Blue and Green Day on Friday, April 19.


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