Senator Sharon Runner, double-lung transplant recipient and Donate Life advocated, has died

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Sharon Runner Official HeadshotThe California Donate Life community has lost an incredible advocate for organ donation. California State Senator Sharon Runner, a double-lung transplant recipient and member of the Donate Life California board of advisors, passed away on July 13, 2016 surrounded by family and friends.

Senator Runner spent her life in service to others. In 1977, she and her husband, George, opened what has become one of the state’s largest private schools, Desert Christian Schools. After serving on various other boards and committees, she was elected to the California State Assembly in 2002, and then to the California State Senate in 2011 and again in 2015.

At age 30, Senator Runner was diagnosed with Scleroderma, or CREST syndrome, which can affect a person’s lungs, as it did in her case. Later, while serving in the State Assembly, she began having trouble breathing at higher elevations. Eventually her doctors realized she had lost nearly 60 percent of her lung capacity and she was placed on the national transplant waiting list.

On February 24, 2012, her prayers were answered with a double-lung transplant, thanks to the selfless generosity of an organ donor. Her transplant allowed her to return to a life of service, which included continuing her duties as a state senator and volunteering for Donate Life California. In 2014, she was honored to be a float rider on the 2014 Donate Life Float in the annual Rose Parade and in 2015, she accepted an invitation to join the Donate Life California board of advisors. Most importantly, Senator Runner’s transplant gave her four more years with her husband, their children and grandchildren.

“Senator Runner was a tireless advocate for all Californians and we value her contributions to the Donate Life community,” said Eric Burch, Donate Life California CEO. “We mourn her loss and send our thoughts and prayers to the Runner family.”

Senator Runner is featured in our Stories of Hope, and you can read more about Senator Runner and her service to California in the Sacramento Bee.

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