April is National Donate Life Month

April is National Donate Life Month, a time when we celebrate those who have received life-saving organ, eye and tissue transplants, recognize and honor donor families, and raise awareness for those who continue to wait for an organ donation that could save their life.

Today in California, 22,000 people are waiting for life-saving organ transplants (121,000 nationally). They wait for a donor, someone who said ‘yes’ to giving them their second chance. Sadly, 22 people in the U.S. die each day because they didn’t get the organ they needed in time.

The process to register as a donor is simple – you can either check “YES!” when you get or renew your driver license or ID card at the DMV (where you get your pink “DONOR” dot), or you can sign up online at donateLIFEcalifornia.org. Once you register, you should talk about your decision with your family and close friends so they’re in-the-know and can help ensure your wishes are carried out.

Despite how easy it is to register, only about 43 percent of Californians are signed up. Why? For the most part, common myths and misconceptions are what keep people from registering. In short, here are the facts:

  • People of all ages can register to be donors (some donors have been in their 90s).
  • Don’t rule yourself out due to current or past medical conditions (even if you have or have had a serious disease or cancer, you could still donate something).
  • All major religions support donation as a final act of generosity towards others.
  • Hospital staff and emergency personnel will do all they can to save your life.
  • Donation will not cost your family anything.
  • Donation does not affect funeral arrangements (you could even have an open casket).
  • Celebrities and wealthy people do not get priority on the organ transplant waiting list (despite what you’ve seen on TV).

If you’d like to know more read Donate Life California’s Myths Debunked.

We all have the potential to save and heal the lives of 50 or more people when we register as organ, eye and tissue donors. One person can save the lives of up to eight people as an organ donor, restore sight to two people through cornea donation and heal countless others through tissue donation

I recently joined the Donate Life California board of advisors to help promote the organization’s mission to save lives by inspiring people to sign up with the state organ, eye and tissue donor registry.

Join me. Take a moment to register to be a donor and learn more about Donate Life Month.


Judy Thomas, JDJudy Thomas, JD, is CEO of the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California, and serves on the Donate Life California board of advisors.

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