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Fallen Heroes to be Honored on the Donate Life Float in the Rose Parade®

dlfloat_5w_300dpi_rgbWHITTIER, Calif., Nov. 17, 2016 – Fallen California law enforcement heroes will be honored in a special way in the 2017 Tournament of Roses Parade®. Today, families of fallen officers attended a Donate Life rose dedication ceremony at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department STARS Center, hosted by Donate Life California and the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation. The families were presented with certificates and roses in honor of their loved ones’ service and sacrifice, and were given the opportunity to write special dedications to their fallen officers. Those dedications will be placed with white Akito roses on the Donate Life float, which showcases the life-saving importance of organ, eye and tissue donation, honors donors and their families, and recognizes all who make donation and transplant possible.

officer-shaun-diamond-125x170

Officer Shaun Diamond, Pomona Police Department, End of Watch October 29, 2014

Margo Diamond’s father, Officer Shaun Diamond, of the Pomona Police Department, was killed in the line of duty on October 29, 2014. The 16-year law enforcement veteran and SWAT officer was serving a search warrant when he was shot. Despite exhaustive life-saving efforts, Officer Diamond didn’t survive his injuries. Margo says despite their grief, she and her family didn’t hesitate to consent to organ donation because she knew it’s what her father wanted. Years earlier, he had donated a kidney to his son, Kelly, whose own kidneys had failed due to a condition he’d had since birth. Officer Diamond saved many lives both as a living kidney donor and as a deceased organ donor.

“We know what it’s like to watch a loved one’s life hang in the balance waiting for an organ transplant,” said Margo. “Not everyone can be a living donor like my dad was, but everyone can register to be a donor after they’re gone to help people like my brother. Everyone has a Kelly Diamond.”

Nearly 22,000 people in California are waiting for life-saving organ transplants, 85 percent of which need kidneys.

“All law enforcement officers put on their uniforms every day knowing the inherent risks they face. Despite those risks, they have sworn to serve and protect. To save lives even if it costs their own. That alone is heroic,” said Tom Mone, Donate Life California board member and Donate Life float chairman. “In some cases, law enforcement officers and their families make another heroic choice. A choice to say “yes” to organ, eye and tissue donation. Today, we honor them and all of our law enforcement heroes.”

“We continue to remember and mourn the loss of each fallen law enforcement officer who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Asst. Sheriff Todd Rogers, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “We ask a lot of our law enforcement and each and every day police officers go out there and leave their families to protect others. That commitment to service is one that is instilled in the very best of us and we have chosen this profession despite the tremendous responsibility and risk. We will forever be grateful to these heroes who wore the badge and for the lasting contributions and life they have given others in the communities we serve.”

cpomf-logo-new“This ceremony honors the service and sacrifices of law enforcement officers and their families, and we’re proud to be a part of it,” said Wayne Quint, executive director of California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation. “But it also brings attention to something we can all do to serve our communities – registering to be organ, eye and tissue donors. It’s something that takes almost no time at all, but it could make a huge difference to the people on the transplant list and their families.”

This year’s Donate Life float theme, Teammates in Life, reflects the team effort that makes organ, eye and tissue donation and transplant possible. It also fits into the spirit of the parade theme, “Echoes of Success,” which reminds us that no one succeeds alone. The 2017 Donate Life Float’s Polynesian-style catamaran will sail down the streets of Pasadena during the 128th Rose Parade® on January 2, 2017.

The families of the following fallen officers, in order of End-of-Watch (EOW) date, were honored today and dedicated roses for the Donate Life float:

Sergeant Scott Paul Lunger, Hayward Police Department, EOW 7/22/15
Officer Shaun Diamond, Pomona Police Department, EWO 10/29/14
Officer Nicholas C. Lee, Los Angeles Police Department, EOW 3/7/14
Deputy Eric A. Thach, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, EOW 10/8/99
Deputy John Paul Monego, Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, EOW 12/12/98

The names and biographies of all California peace officers who have died in the line of duty can be found at www.camemorial.org under the “Honor Roll” tab.

Fast Facts from Donate Life California:

  • 22 people across the country die each day awaiting life-saving organ transplants.
  • 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.

Media contacts: Brianne Mundy Page, brianne@donateLIFEcalifornia.org, 858-220-8351; Tania Llavaneras, OneLegacy, tllavaneras@onelegacy.org, 213-503-9285; Nicole Nishida, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, nnishida@lasd.org, 323-810-1973

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.

About the California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation

The California Peace Officers’ Memorial Foundation is a nonprofit charitable foundation whose mission is to recognize and honor California’s peace officers who gave their lives ‘In the Line of Duty’ serving the citizens of this great state, and provides support to the family members left behind. For more information, go to www.camemorial.org.

Donate Life California-DMV 10-Year Partnership Has Saved & Healed More Than 600,000 Lives

California Organ Donor Registrations Surpass 13.2 Million

DL-DMV-10SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 26, 2016 – Registered organ, eye and tissue donors in California have saved nearly 7,000 lives and helped heal an estimated 600,000 more people since Donate Life California and the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) became official partners 10 years ago.

The DMV began asking driver license and ID card customers if they wanted to join the state’s official Donate Life California Organ & Tissue Donor Registry on July 1, 2006. By the end of that year, one million people had signed up on the secure and confidential database. Today, more than 13.2 million Californians have registered their decision to be a life-saving donor – 95 percent through the DMV. The DMV adds about 20,000 new registrations each week.

“We do everything we can to honor the wishes of registered organ, eye and tissue donors,” said Monica Johnson, Donate Life California board president and executive director of Sierra Donor Services, the nonprofit organ and tissue recovery organization in Sacramento. “For families, it’s a comfort knowing their loved one’s wishes so they don’t have to wonder what their loved one’s choice would have been.”

“Less than one percent of people who die are able to save lives as an organ donor, so every registration is critical,” said Eric Burch, Donate Life California CEO. “The work we do with partners like the DMV is vitally important because the need is so great. Yet, only about 45 percent of Californians are registered donors – too many rule themselves out. You’re never too old to register and your medical history doesn’t necessarily effect your eligibility to be a donor.”

“The DMV is proud to be part of an organization that has helped save the lives of so many Californians,” said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto. “Our employees not only assist customers with signing up to become organ, eye, and tissue donors, but many of them are registered donors, and others are appreciative recipients. So, our partnership holds special meaning for us.”

More than 120,000 people in the U.S., including 22,000 in California, are on the organ transplant waiting list; nearly 1,100 Californians died waiting last year.

1505 Alfonso Garcia DLA and liver transplant recipient with picture of his donor, George Becker

Liver recipient Alfonso Garcia holds a photo of his donor, George Becker.

“I am one of the lucky ones. My donor registered at the DMV. If he hadn’t done that, I would not be alive today,” said Alfonso Garcia, a Bay Area liver recipient who graduated this spring from the University of San Francisco. “I think of George every day and live my life to honor his gift.”

Alfonso’s organ donor, Sacramento resident George Becker, signed up as an organ donor when he got his driver license at 16. George died at 22 from a sinus infection that reached his brain. As an organ donor, he saved three lives, including Alfonso’s. George’s mother is grateful that something good came out of her son’s sudden death.

1505 Alfonso Garcia DLA and liver transplant recipient with Connie Mays, holding picture of son and donor, George Becker

Connie Mays holds a photo of her son, George Becker, whose organs saved three people including liver recipient Alfonso Garcia (right).

“Seeing Alfonso become the young man he is thanks to my son’s selfless decision to register as an organ donor fills my heart,” said Connie Mays, George’s mother. “I am so grateful and so proud of George, and it’s wonderful to see how Alfonso honors my son.”

The DMV has supported organ donation since 1976 when it began issuing pink “DONOR” dot stickers and donor cards, which were considered symbols of intent only. In 2005, the online Donate Life California Registry was launched, phasing out donor cards and offering Californians an opportunity to give formal, legal consent for donation. The next year, the DMV became an official partner and, instead of issuing stickers, began printing the familiar pink “DONOR” dot on driver license and ID cards.

ShuShu family

Deborah Flores with her two sons. Xusha Brown (right) became an organ donor after he was the unintended victim of a drive-by shooting.

Deborah Flores of Spring Valley near San Diego says if her son had not registered as a donor at the DMV, she probably would have said no when asked about organ donation because she wouldn’t have known what he wanted. Xusha Brown, who went by ShuShu, was the unintended victim of a drive-by shooting on Interstate 8 in La Mesa in May 2013. He was just 22 years old.

“Losing a child is the worst thing a parent could ever experience,” said Deborah Flores, ShuShu’s mother. “But because he was a donor, the circle of life continues. Four lives were saved because my son was thinking of others. My son ended his journey here in this life with the best two titles to his name – donor and hero. Forever my hero.”

Jolene Vargas

Two-time kidney recipient Jolene Vargas.

Organ donation has allowed Jolene Vargas of Baldwin Park in the Los Angeles area to raise her son and take care of her stepdad, who suffered from dementia, after her mom passed away. A two-time kidney recipient, Jolene’s second donor registered at the DMV.

“I was a single mom and my son was just two years old when I was given three days to live. Now, more than twenty years and two transplants later, he’s a successful young man working with one of the world’s largest technology companies and I got the chance to take care of my dad when he needed me. I can’t thank my donors enough for that.”

Californians can register to be donors by checking “YES!” at the DMV or by signing up at donateLIFEcalifornia.org.

Fast Facts from Donate Life California:

  • California has the largest waiting list in the nation; the most deaths waiting; and the largest donor registry in the U.S. – yet, only about 45 percent of residents sign up here.
  • 85% of people are able to be tissue donors.
  • Less than 1% are able to be organ donors.
  • Last year, 953 Californians were organ donors.
  • Deceased donors saved the lives of 2,955 people in 2015 and 1,063 died waiting in our state.

For more information:

Photos & additional resources available at http://bit.ly/DLCMediaKit

Donate Life California
Brianne Mundy Page
858-220-8351
brianne@donateLIFEcalifornia.org

California DMV
916-657-6437
dmvpublicaffairs@dmv.ca.gov

Bay Area: Noel Sánchez, Donor Network West
925-480-3400
media@dnwest.org

Los Angeles: Vanessa Schnaidt, Hershey Cause Communications
310-656-1001 ext. 105
vschnaidt@hersheycause.com

Sacramento: Deanna Santana, Sierra Donor Services
916-201-3295
dsantana@dcids.org

San Diego: Sharon Ross, Lifesharing
619-889-6161
ssross@ucsd.edu

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 donateLIFEcalifornia.org or 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.

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

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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