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Donate Life California Honors Navy Veteran & Mother Bonnie Walker on Donate Life Rose Parade Float

This year Donate Life California is continuing its tradition of sponsoring a floragraph on the Donate Life Rose Parade Float by honoring Bonnie Walker of El Cajon, California as an organ & tissue donor. On January 1st, 2018 during the 129th Rose Parade, Bonnie Walker will be one of 44 donors honored on the Donate Life float, The Gift of Time.

Donate Life Rose Parade Float, Gift of Time

Born Bonnie Lee Kleindolph on February 6, 1940, in Muscatine, Iowa. She spent part of her childhood growing up in Iowa and part in Tucumcari, New Mexico. After high school, she enlisted in the United States Navy and was placed at the Dental Office at the Naval Station in San Diego.

In 1961, she married Robert Walker. At this time Bonnie left the Navy and they started their family. They spent a short time in Long Beach then settled down in El Cajon, California where they were married for 42 years and raised 5 children.

Her daughter Tanya McClain describes her more as “a very giving and unselfish parent who took great pride in being actively involved with all the school and extra-curricular activities us kids took part in.”

Donate Life Floragraph Honoree

“Our mother loved to read and watch parades on TV. Every New Year’s Day we would watch the Rose Parade. The floats were her favorite and being on one would have ‘tickled her pink’ as she would say. ”

Bonnie was 63 when she passed away on June 1st, 2003 from cardiac arrest. She was able to donate her corneas which went to two different people. It’s wonderful that she was able to give the gift of sight to two precious recipients.

She is survived by her husband, Robert; 5 children, Tanya, Tammy, Sherina, Robert II and Kristina; brother, Roy; 4 grandchildren, Cody, Cole, Brianna and Tristan. Of course, now there are 3 more grandkids, Cheyenne, Connor and Emma and even 2 great grandkids, Zoe and Layla.

Each year Donate Life California honors a donor connected to the California Department of Motor Vehicles to say thank you for the support provided in registering organ and tissue donors around the state of California. In our eleven year partnership, we’ve been able to register over 14 million donors in the state of California. Tanya McClain, our honoree’s daughter, is the Manager of the San Clemente Field Office.

In October, Tanya and her son were able to decorate the Floragraph honoring her mother that will be included on this year’s float.

Donate Life Floragraph Decorating

Kick off your new year right by joining Donate Life as we honor donors during the Rose Parade on January 1, 2018!

Become A Donor to Support Breast Cancer Survivors

In the donation community, we often speak about how being a donor can save lives of those in need of organ transplants. We talk about diseases like kidney, liver, and heart failure and how being a donor can give someone a second chance at life.

One thing we don’t talk as much about is the role in changing lives that being a tissue donor can have. In October, this focus turns to how tissue donors are changing the lives of breast cancer survivors. Registering today as a donor can help breast cancer survivors heal and move forward with their lives.

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her life. That means in 2017, over 252,700 cases will be diagnosed. Thankfully, survival rates have been increasing since 1989 and we continue to see advancements in treatment. Many of these women will require surgery and for many, reconstructions with a tissue donation is their best option.

We can work to help support these survivors by signing up to be an organ and tissue donor, where you are able to help ten different breast cancer survivors in their greatest time of need.

A Survivor’s Story

A cancer diagnosis is one of the most shocking things you can receive. Thankfully, today it is not always life-threatening, but there is no doubt it is always life-altering.

Even as you move into recovery, there are many things that have changed both physically and emotionally. Breast cancer survivor Kate Kane shares how her breast reconstruction surgery changed her life with AOPO.

“I can’t imagine having gone through what I went through and having that be a turning point in my life where I have to stop doing the things that I did, not just for my overall health and well-being, but as my social life. I’m so grateful that I was able to do that. The cancer didn’t get me and the reconstruction brought me back to my life.”

Support Survivors During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This month, you will see many ways to donate and support research for breast cancer. You will have the opportunity to support survivors in many ways. We hope you will also take a quick moment to support these survivors by signing up as an organ and tissue donor today.

Already signed up as a donor? You can help by sharing your story of why you’ve become a donor with your family and friends. They may not know that being a tissue donor can provide life-changing support to breast cancer survivors. Being open about your choice to be a donor creates a ripple effect of change!

Find out about one of our #StoriesofHope, Joshua San Pedro, who was able to change the lives of breast cancer survivors and others as a tissue donor here.

Breast Cancer Survivors Supporting Donation

Many breast cancer survivors are tissue recipients themselves, and they have now gone on to tell the story of how it changed their lives and why others should sign up as donors.

And many of them continue to be donors themselves. Having cancer does not disqualify you from being a donor and many women are giving back the #GiftOfLife they received.

Myth: I can’t be a donor if I’ve had cancer.
Truth: Cancer does not rule you out. You can always register to be a donor.

A beautiful story was shared by Sierra Donor Services of a breast cancer survivor learning she can pass it on as an organ & tissue donor.

Join Donate Life California in celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October and Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day on October 18th by signing up as a donor and sharing your story!

Donate Life California Launches Living Donation California

LDC Logo

Contact: Brianne Mundy, Program Manager
(o) 619.563.5137 (m) 515.988.0476

SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 14, 2013 – Living Donation California launched today as a first-of-its-kind, state-authorized information and referral service to inspire and inform people to be altruistic living kidney donors. Through its website,, the free service provides information about living kidney donation and refers potentially eligible individuals for evaluation at a transplant center.

“There is a national shortage of kidneys available for transplant, and the need is especially acute in the State of California. By encouraging people to be altruistic kidney donors, Living Donation California gives hope to the thousands of transplant-eligible Californians who spend years on dialysis – years they could be spending more time with family, working and living healthy, active lives,” said Lisa Stocks, Board President of Donate Life California, administrators of the state’s organ and tissue donor registry who together with fifteen kidney transplant programs developed the Living Donation California initiative.

In California, kidney transplant candidates wait up to ten years, and for many patients twice as long as the national average, for a kidney transplant from a deceased donor. Circumstances allowing for organ recovery at the time of death are a rare (less than one percent) occurrence, so the state’s transplant community is focused on increasing living donation to help the large and growing number of Californians in need of kidney transplants.

The vast majority of living kidney donors are family or close friends of their recipients. A small but growing percentage are altruistic donors who offer the gift of a kidney without expectation of receiving anything in return. Federal law prohibits buying and selling organs for transplant, although in some cases living organ donors may be reimbursed for travel and other expenses incurred during the donation process. However, altruistic donors commonly feel greatly empowered by their choice to donate a kidney.

On April 2, 2013, Kelly Wright of Newport Beach donated a kidney to a Boston man she met on Facebook in January. She says she has no regrets. “I will never have a bigger accomplishment in my life than having one of my kidneys working inside of another human who may have died without it. Living donation is a blessing for both donor and recipient! I am happy to share my story – there may be others willing to save a life!”

Living kidney donation is possible because most people are born with two kidneys. In the case of a person with two healthy kidneys, one can be transplanted into someone whose kidneys are failing. After the transplant, both the donor’s remaining kidney and the transplanted one will typically grow in size to perform at a higher level of function so both the donor and recipient can still live healthy and active lives.

Tad Suwa, a Sacramento firefighter, is one of the thousands of Californians hoping to be freed from dialysis by receiving a kidney transplant so he can serve his community and enjoy time with his girlfriend and their children. “I just want to get back to my job and my family needs me to work and play with them again.”

“Living Donation California will be a valuable resource to invite people to explore living kidney donation,” said Dr. Jeffrey L. Veale, kidney transplant surgeon and Director of the Kidney Transplant Exchange Program at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. “Many people do not know that as a living kidney donor they can help not only one person, but spark a chain of transplants that could help 30 people or more receive lifesaving kidney transplants.” The story of one such series of transplants is illustrated in a mini web documentary “The Chain,” which features a series of transplants initiated by an altruistic donor whose kidney was transplanted by Dr. Veale. “The Chain” will premiere on May 14 on Participant Media’s TakePart YouTube channel.

The Living Donation California website comprehensively explains the short-term and long-term risks associated with living kidney donation, which are considered to be low overall and comparable to other common surgeries. In fact, 95 percent of living kidney donors report minor to no complications. Living Donation California urges anyone considering living kidney donation to weigh the benefits and the risks and thoroughly discuss the donation process with the medical personnel at the transplant center to which they are referred.

By the numbers:

  • More than 17,000 Californians are on the kidney transplant waiting list.
  • 2,073 Californians received kidney transplants in 2012.
    • 1,441 were from deceased donors
    • 631 were from living donors
    • 756 people died in California in 2012 waiting for a kidney transplant.

(Source: Organ Procurement and Transplant Network, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services)


In 2009, during his battle with pancreatic cancer, Apple founder Steve Jobs received a liver transplant. But, during that process he grew frustrated over the shortage of organs in the U.S. In cooperation with then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Donate Life California, The Altruistic Living Donor Registry Act of 2010 (SB 1395) was signed into law, authorizing the state’s organ procurement organizations to establish a service designed to “promote and assist live kidney donations.” Living Donation California is that service.

Living Donation California is a free information and referral service that encourages California residents to be altruistic kidney donors, provides accurate information about living donation, and refers potentially eligible individuals for evaluation at a transplant center.

Living Donation California is administered by Donate Life California, which manages the state-authorized organ and tissue deceased donor registry. Donate Life California’s Board of Directors is composed of eight representatives of the state’s four non-profit, federally designated organ procurement organizations (OPOs): OneLegacy, Lifesharing, Donor Network West and Sierra Donor Services. In addition, Living Donation California is supported by a Board of Advisors including participating California kidney transplant programs.

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