The 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.
SAN DIEGO, Calif., July 12, 2016 – Donate Life California and 104 California hospitals and transplant centers are among a select group of organizations recognized for promoting enrollment in state organ donor registries through a national campaign sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
Nationwide between May 2015 and April 2016, hospitals and transplant centers in the annual Workplace Partnership for Life Hospital Campaign held awareness and enrollment activities to increase the number of registered organ, eye and tissue donors. Activities earning points included hosting donor enrollment tables, raising the Donate Life flag, participating in National Blue & Green Day, inviting guest speakers into the hospital, etc. Donate Life California, the state-authorized nonprofit organ, eye and tissue donor registry, worked closely with the California Hospital Association (CHA) and California’s four organ procurement organizations (OPOs), Donor Network West, Lifesharing, OneLegacy and Sierra Donor Services, to support the program. Hospitals were awarded platinum, gold, silver or bronze recognition based on points earned for each activity. The platinum-level recognition was added this year as a way to recognize the hospitals that go above and beyond to earn more than 1,000 points.
Of the 104 California hospitals and transplant centers that received recognition, 28 earned platinum, 22 earned gold, 30 earned silver and 24 earned bronze. Twenty-five of the 104 hospitals (24%) were new to the program this year, and 20 of 22 of the state’s transplant centers participated. See the full list of partners, hospitals and transplant centers recognized here.
Nationwide, the campaign has added 400,000 donor enrollments to state registries since 2011.
“The collaborative partnership we have with the hospitals, our OPO partners and the California Hospital Association is just incredible. Out of the 995 hospitals recognized nationwide, 11 percent are here in California,” said Eric Burch, Donate Life California CEO. “It is programs like the HRSA Hospital Campaign that lead to more people registering to be organ, eye and tissue donors and ultimately, more lives saved.”
“Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is pleased to partner with the other California hospitals in the HRSA Hospital Campaign,” said Terence M. Green, vice president of development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and a member of the Donate Life California board of advisors. “As a transplant center and one of the largest pediatric hospitals in California, we are very aware of the critically important role Donate Life California and its OPO partners throughout the state play in helping to give all children in our care the best hope for the healthy futures they deserve.”
This campaign is a special effort of HRSA’s Workplace Partnership for Life to mobilize the nation’s hospitals to increase the number of people in the country registered as organ, eye, and tissue donors. The campaign unites donation advocates at hospitals with representatives from Donate Life America affiliates, local organ procurement organizations, and state and regional hospital associations. Working together, the teams leverage their communications resources and outreach efforts to most effectively spread word of the critical need for donors.
21,856 people are on the organ transplant waiting list in California; 120,201 are waiting nationally (i.e. one in five on the national organ transplant waiting list lives in California.)
More than 29,000 people in the U.S. begin new lives each year thanks to organ transplants (about 81 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 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.
On Tuesday, June 14, 2016, Lisa Stocks, Donate Life California board member and current Executive Director of Lifesharing, appeared on KUSI-TV in San Diego to talk about the White House Organ Summit, held the day before in Washington, D.C. The summit brought together technology firms, advocacy organizations, universities, government organizations, and private businesses – all working together to tackle the nationwide organ donor shortage that claimed the lives of 1,000 Californians last year alone. It brought such hopeful news to the more than 120,000 Americans awaiting transplant, including the nearly 22,000 here in California.
In her appearance on KUSI, Lisa highlighted the efforts being taken to encourage more people to register as donors as well as to improve living kidney donation and organ preservation. Watch Lisa’s interview here.
In summary, the actions announced at the summit are aimed at:
Closing the gap between the 95 percent of Americans who support organ donation and the roughly 50 percent who are actually registered donors. (43 percent in California.)
Investing in clinical research and innovation that could potentially increase the number of transplants by almost 2,000 each year and improve outcomes for patients.
Facilitating breakthrough research and development with almost $200 million announced in investments.
Read more about the summit and the actions announced here and/or watch the summit below.
One of the most important ways people can help is by registering to be a donor on the only official state registry in California, the Donate Life California Organ & Tissue Donor Registry. You can sign up by checking “YES!” at the DMV or by going to donateLIFEcalifornia.org.
For more information about living kidney donation, visit LivingDonationCalifornia.org. Living Donation California is a Donate Life California program.