Registry grows as people renew drivers' licenses
Families of organ and tissue donors joined organ transplant recipients at the State Capitol on April 30 to formally thank lawmakers, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the three million Californians who have pledged to save and heal lives by signing up on the state-authorized Donate Life California Organ & Tissue Donor Registry.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with Assemblywoman Sharon Runner (R – Lancaster) joined fellow legislators, DMV representatives, and allied health professionals to officially commemorate April’s DMV/Donate Life California Month.
“The benefits of organ and tissue donation are simply staggering,” Governor Schwarzenegger said. “I am proud of the 3 million Californians who have signed up to be organ and tissue donors. Each person who becomes a donor can save the lives of eight people and dramatically improve the lives of 50 people. It truly is the gift of life.”
The number of individuals who wait for a life saving transplant continues to increase on a daily basis. California has the highest proportion of people on the national organ transplant waiting list, with about 20 percent of the nearly 100,000 candidates awaiting a life-saving transplant.
“Californians have an extraordinary opportunity to help save lives and ensure their decision to do so is honored,” Runner said. Runner authored Assembly Concurrent Resolution 125, a resolution recognizing April as DMV/Donate Life California Month to encourage Californians to sign up with the Donate Life California Registry.
“Each of us has the power to save up to eight lives as an organ donor and heal up to 50 others as a tissue donor by restoring sight, mobility, and healing burns,” Runner added. “I strongly encourage every Californian to sign up with the registry.”
Altogether, registered organ and tissue donors saved or healed more than 3,000 lives in 2007. Anyone can sign up on the Donate Life California Registry, and unlike blood donation, there are few automatic rule-outs.
“We are pleased that in the last year, the Donate Life California Registry has shown its value as a tool to save and heal lives,” Bryan Stewart, President of Donate Life California, said. “With one million designated donors signing up every eight months, the life-saving impact of the registry is on an upward trajectory.”
The success of the Donate Life California Registry owes much to its partnership with the Department of Motor Vehicles. “Today we celebrate three million Californians who have signed up to become organ and tissue donors,” DMV Director George Valverde said. “Those “pink dots” are more than mere symbols; they have taken on the power of advanced directives for organ and tissue donation for any California motorist who proudly chooses to display them.”
The vast majority of the registry’s three million designated donors have signed up since the DMV began enrolling designated donors in July 2006. Due to the five year license renewal cycle, two-thirds of California drivers have not yet had the opportunity to check ‘yes’ when they renew their license, and state lawmakers urge individuals to do so.
In all cases in which an eligible donor has not registered with Donate Life California, the donation decision falls on families, who consent to donation in about 60% of cases. When families are unsure of what their loved one wanted, after sometimes anguishing deliberation, they often decline to donate. Thus, documenting one’s decision on the registry is a gift both to one’s family and to potential recipients.
“The registry’s core promise – to save lives by ensuring individuals’ wishes to donate are honored – is accomplishing its life-saving mission,” Stewart said.
Donate Life California is a nonprofit, state-authorized organ and tissue donor registry, administered by California’s four nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organizations, each responsible for facilitating the donation process in the state: California Transplant Donor Network, Golden State Donor Services, Lifesharing and OneLegacy.
For more information, please visit http://www.dmv.ca.gov/about/donateLife/donateLife.htm, www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org or in Spanish at www.doneVIDAcalifornia.org.