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Two Million Californians Say 'Yes!' to Organ and Tissue Donation
Date:10/9/2007

Statewide Donate Life California Organ & Tissue Donor Registry Reaches 2

Million Registrations

Minorities and Older Residents Less Likely to Register

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- More than two million Californians have signed up to become organ and/or tissue donors on the state's Donate Life California Organ & Tissue Donor Registry, doubling the state's number of designated donors in only eight months. The ongoing surge in registrations is due predominantly to the ability of Californians to sign up as donors at the same time they apply for or renew drivers licenses or I.D. cards at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) through a program that began July 1, 2006.

"As a result of our partnership with the DMV, each week approximately 30,000 DMV customers are checking 'Yes' on their DMV forms to register as organ and tissue donors," stated Bryan Stewart, president of Donate Life California, the non-profit organization created in 2004 to administer the state-authorized donor registry. "In doing so, they are helping the more than 20,000 fellow Californians who are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, and many more who rely on the gift of donated tissue to restore sight, heal burns and regain mobility."

According to George Valverde, director of the DMV, "We are proud that this partnership is truly making a difference and saving lives. Through our involvement in this effort, we've also come to know how the lives of employees in our own DMV family have been touched by organ donation. Some have donated organs to loved ones, received transplants themselves or are still in need of life-saving donations. We are heartened to know the DMV's enrollment of designated donors gives hope to those whose lives hang in the balance."

Tragically, one-third of the nearly 100,000 Americans currently waiting for life-saving organ transplants could die due to a shortage of donors. The shortage of organs is not due simply to a lack of giving, but rather to the rarity with which the opportunity to donate organs presents itself. Only one in 100 deaths results in a patient being eligible to donate. That's why every single opportunity to donate counts.

Californians are responding to the need to varying degrees. In all cases in which an eligible donor has not registered with Donate Life California, the donation decision falls to the potential donor's family, and these families are consenting to donate in about 60% of cases. In addition, younger Californians are flocking to the state donor registry, which counts more than one million designated donors under age 30. However, less than a quarter of DMV customers are checking 'Yes' on their DMV forms, a low rate which can be ascribed to older Californians ruling themselves out and minorities being less likely to register.

"Research in other states reveals that a significant percentage of DMV customers 50 and older are ruling themselves out of being designated donors, thinking that their age or medical conditions make them ineligible to donate," said Stewart. "While their intention to protect potential recipients is noble,

it is critical that Californians not rule themselves out and leave it to medical professionals."

In the greater Los Angeles area, in the first six months of 2007, 26% of organ donors were age 50 and older, 9% were age 60 and older, and two were in their seventies. Among tissue donors, 67% were age 50 and older, nearly half were age 60 and older, and 18% were in their seventies, while the average age was 53.

Donate Life California has also determined that minorities are three times less likely than Caucasians to sign up as donors in the state. "The low rate of donor designations among minorities is especially concerning since they represent almost two-thirds of those on the waiting list in California," said Stewart.

"We must carry the message to middle-age and elder residents and minorities alike that we need their help to save lives," said Stewart. "We each have the power to make a difference by registering as organ and tissue donors online or through the DMV."

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. As a state-authorized public service, the registry assures that all personal information is kept confidential and stored in a secure database, accessible only to authorized organ and tissue recovery personnel.

For more information about the Donate Life California Registry, the process, and how donation saves and improves lives, visit http://www.dmv.ca.gov/about/donateLife/donateLife.htm, http://www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org or in Spanish at http://www.doneVIDAcalifornia.org.

DMV Contact: DLC Contacts:

Jan Mendoza Bryan Stewart, President

Media Relations Office Phone: (213) 229-5650

2415 First Avenue Cell: (213) 400-8304

Sacramento, CA 95818 Miryam Mora, Executive Director

Phone: 916-657-6826 Phone: (916) 473-0875

Fax: 916-657-8282 http://www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org

http://www.dmv.ca.gov http://www.doneVIDAcalifornia.org


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SOURCE Donate Life California
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
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