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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.

Donate Life California and 104 Hospital Partners Nationally Recognized for Promoting Organ Donor Registrations

25 Hospitals Newly Recognized

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).

LogoNationwide 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.

Fast Facts from Donate Life California:

  • 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.

Donate Life California Discusses White House Organ Summit on KUSI-TV

Lisa on KUSI San Diego 6-14-16

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.

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