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Six Living Kidney Donors & Two Kidney Recipients Featured on Today Show

SAN DIEGO, Calif., April 1, 2016 – Five living kidney donors and one kidney recipient ran the nearly 200-mile, overnight Ragnar Relay So Cal from Huntington Beach to San Diego to raise awareness that people can still lead normal, healthy lives after donation and to inspire others to take action in support of living and deceased donation. The group was later featured on the Today show (video above).

Over the course of two days and one night, each participant on team “One Kidney Run” ran six times, with each leg ranging between three and twelve miles, varying in difficulty. In addition, one kidney recipient and one living kidney donor supported the team as van drivers.

Participants included:

  • Randy Fleet (San Diego), who received a kidney from his brother
  • Kathy Vochoska (Bakersfield) and Rebecca Clark (Laguna Niguel), who donated to their sons
  • Fernando Landeros (South El Monte), who donated to a friend
  • Ivan Sablan (Escondido) of the San Diego Police Dept., who donated to a stranger.
  • Sal Torres (Chico), a kidney and pancreas recipient via a deceased donor.
  • Jelani Polk (Bakersfield), a two-time kidney recipient via a deceased and a living donor
  • Lorena Rodriguez (San Diego), who donated a kidney to a stranger.

Special thanks to Sunroad Automotive and Pacific Honda in San Diego and Motor City Buick GMC in Bakersfield for supporting team One Kidney Run by providing vehicles to shuttle the runners along the route.

Donate Life California Shares Life-saving Message of Organ & Tissue Donation at 53rd California Hospital Volunteer Leadership Conference

MONTEREY BAY, Calif., Feb. 15, 2016 – Donate Life California, the nonprofit state-authorized organ and tissue donor registry, is participating for the third straight year in the California Hospital Volunteer Leadership Conference hosted by California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (CAHHS). The 53rd annual conference is Feb. 15 – 18, 2016 in Monterey Bay.

Donate Life California will present to the more than 300 hospital volunteers in attendance about the critical need for organ donors and share ways they can help inspire Californians to register as organ, eye and tissue donors. Conference attendees will hear stories of donor heroes, including Sisto Fuentes of Porterville. Sisto became an organ, eye and tissue donor in February 2014, saving and healing dozens of lives. One of the people he saved was George Grimm of Salinas, who received Sisto’s heart and one of his kidneys after battling advanced heart disease and kidney failure. During the conference, George will share how organ donation gave him his life back and allows him to continue raising his two grandsons. Sisto’s brother, Freddie Fuentes, will share how his brother’s gift to George has also been a gift to the Fuentes family.

“My brother was always a giver. His death was unfortunate and devastating, but being able to save George’s life and the lives of so many others has been a tremendous blessing to our family,” says Freddie. “We miss Sisto.  His death has left a huge hole in our hearts, but because of organ, eye and tissue donation, he lives on.”

“While hospital volunteers are not directly involved in the organ, eye and tissue donation process, they can encourage people in their communities to sign up on the Donate Life California Registry,” says Monica Johnson, president of the Donate Life California board of directors. “Only 43 percent of Californians are registered donors. We’re asking hospital volunteers to join our mission to help increase donor registration.”

Donate Life California has developed a resource for hospital volunteers called the Hospital Volunteer Online Toolkit, which is available at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org/hospitaltoolkit. The toolkit offers guidance for hospital volunteers on how they can:

  • Become involved in Donate Life activities in their hospitals, including Blue & Green Day on Friday, April 15, 2016.
  • Request a speaker – either a donor family member or a transplant recipient – for a gathering, meeting or event.
  • Talk about organ, eye and tissue donation in their communities.

Those attending the conference can also visit the Donate Life California exhibit table on Tuesday and Wednesday for more information.

All Californians can register to be donors by checking “YES!” at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or by signing up at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org.

Fast Facts from Donate Life California:

  • 21,913 people in California are on the national organ transplant waiting list (121,515).
  • 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 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.

Media Contact: Brianne Mundy Page, 858-220-8351, brianne@donateLIFEcalifornia.org.

Donate Life California Starts 2016 with New President

SAN DIEGO, Calif., Jan. 20, 2016 – Monica Johnson has been elected to a two-year term as President of the Board of Directors of Donate Life California, which administers the nation’s largest registry of organ, eye and tissue donors.

Donate Life California was established in 2004 to oversee a computer database on which people register their decision to be organ, eye and tissue donors. Since then, more than 12.8 million people have added their names on the registry as potential donors; 95 percent have done so through the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and have a pink “DONOR” dot on their driver license or ID card.

Johnson has served on the Donate Life California board since 2011. She is the Executive Director of Sierra Donor Services, the nonprofit organ, eye and tissue donor recovery agency serving nearly four million people in Northern California and Nevada.

“It’s my honor and privilege to serve California as the President of the Board for Donate Life California,” said Johnson. “The California state donor registry continues to be the largest registry in the country at nearly 13 million and we’ll continue to pursue efforts to increase the numbers on the registry. Nearly 20 percent of the national organ transplant waiting list resides in California and we have an obligation and the opportunity to help save and heal the lives of thousands who wait. With the generosity of the diverse communities we serve, we can make this a reality.”

Sierra Donor Services and three other federally-designated nonprofits in the state, Donor Network West, Lifesharing and OneLegacy, support families giving the gift of life as well as provide public education about donation. The Donate Life California board includes representatives from each of the four organizations.

Johnson has been in the organ donation and transplantation field for nearly 25 years. Before becoming Executive Director of Sierra Donor Services, she held leadership positions at Pacific Northwest Transplant Bank in Portland, Oregon and LifeCenter Northwest in Bellevue, Washington. Johnson is a registered nurse and holds an MS in Management from Antioch University in Seattle, WA and earned her BS in Social and Behavioral Sciences from Linfield College in McMinnville, OR.

Californians can register to be donors by checking “YES!” at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or by signing up at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org.

Fast Facts from Donate Life California:

  • One in five on the national organ transplant waiting list (121,675) 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 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.

Media Contact: Brianne Mundy Page, 858-220-8351, brianne@donateLIFEcalifornia.org

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