Organ Donors Set New World Record

Caleigh Haber of San Francisco relies on breathing equipment and breathing exercises to keep her alive as she waits for a lung transplant. She also wears a mask for protection from germs.

Caleigh Haber of San Francisco relies on breathing equipment and breathing exercises to keep her alive as she waits for a lung transplant. She also wears a mask for protection from germs.

Twelve million Californians are registered organ, eye and tissue donors. The new milestone broadens Donate Life California’s footprint as the largest organ, eye and tissue donor registry in the country and the world, and coincides with National Donate Life Month.

“Today, we celebrate and thank each and every one of the 12 million people in our state who have signed up on the Donate Life California Registry,” said Cindy Siljestrom, Donate Life California Board president.

“Your registration gives hope to the more than 123,000 people who wait for the gift of life in California and across the country. Sadly, some will die waiting for an organ transplant that doesn’t come in time due to the lack of available organs. Our hope is everyone will choose to be a donor to save lives.”

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Despite the vital need, only about 40 percent of adults in California are signed up to be organ, eye and tissue donors, putting California well below the national average of 50 percent.

National Donate Life Month, celebrated each April, highlights the need for life-saving and life-enhancing organ, eye and tissue transplants to inspire more people to become a donor hero and save lives simply by signing up to be an organ, eye and tissue donor.

In California, that means checking “YES!” while applying for or renewing a California driver license or ID, or going online.

Caleigh Haber of San Francisco is one of the more than 22,000 people in California waiting for the gift of life. She has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that has led to severe lung disease, which makes breathing for her very difficult. She is on the transplant waiting list for a new set of lungs. But there’s no guarantee she’ll get them.

“The average healthy person inhales about 28,800 times a day without even thinking twice or having to work at it,” said Caleigh. “For me, breathing is a luxury and a full-time job. Every day, I fight to breathe.”

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Each day in the U.S., 21 people die waiting because the organ they needed did not come available in time. Organs needed for transplant are heart, lungs, liver, kidney, pancreas or intestine.

Tissue transplants, meanwhile, save and heal lives. Tissues for transplant include cornea, skin, heart valves, bone tissue, tendons, veins, ligaments and cartilage.

More than a million tissue transplants are done each year, and the surgical need for tissue has been steadily rising. Corneal transplants restore sight to nearly 50,000 people each year.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is an important Donate Life California partner, with 95 percent of California’s 12 million registered organ, eye and tissue donors having checked “YES!” while applying for or renewing their California driver license or ID.

Donate Life California is a nonprofit, state-authorized organ, eye and tissue donor registry.

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