Living Donation California Celebrates 100 Direct Living Kidney Donor Candidate Referrals to California Transplant Centers

SAN DIEGO, Calif., Sept. 24, 2015 – 100 people in California hoping to altruistically save someone’s life have successfully utilized – a free, online information and referral service designed to refer eligible living kidney donation candidates to California transplant centers.

Donate Life California, the state organ, eye and tissue donor registry, launched the Living Donation California program on May 14, 2013. Since then, thousands of people have visited the website to educate themselves about living kidney donation, why it’s needed, and how one person can save a life or many lives by donating one of their two kidneys. Hundreds more visitors then took a self-assessment to determine their eligibility to be living kidney donors, and 100 people who met the minimal requirements were directly referred to one of 13 California transplant centers for further evaluation.

“The willingness to undergo surgery and give a piece of oneself to save another’s life is truly selfless and heroic,” said Charlene Zettel, CEO of Donate Life California. “Today, nearly 19,000 people in California are waiting for a life-saving kidney transplant. Their wait for a kidney from a deceased donor could be up to ten years or more. One in three will die waiting. Living donation gives those on the waiting list greater hope.”

Lorena C Rodriguez 190 cropped

Lorena Rodriguez, left, gave a kidney to Monique McCray, right. The two met and became friends after their surgeries.

Lorena Rodriguez of San Diego cares for people in kidney failure and sees the toll kidney disease takes on their lives and loved ones. One day, she decided she could do more to help.

“I wanted to free someone so they could live life and spend that time with their family and friends,” says Lorena Rodriguez. “After my donation, I met my recipient, Monique McCray, who can now watch her daughter grow up. I am happy I could give that gift to her.”

Lorena didn’t save just one life, she saved multiple lives because her donation started a chain of kidney transplants. Kidney transplant chains link pairs of incompatible donors and recipients who are compatible with each other, allowing for better donor-recipient matches. (Read more here.)

In 2014 in California:
• 2,039 people received kidney transplants:
– 1,444 were from deceased donors.
– 595 were from living donors.
• 721 people died waiting for a kidney transplant.
• 521 were removed from the waiting list because they were too sick to transplant.

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

History of Living Donation California
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 United States. In cooperation with then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Donate Life California, The Altruistic Living Donor Registry Act of 2010 (SB 1395, Alquist) was signed into law, authorizing the state’s organ procurement organizations (OPOs) to establish a service designed to “promote and assist live kidney donations.” Living Donation California is that service.

About Living Donation California
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): Donor Network West, Lifesharing, OneLegacy, and Sierra Donor Services. In addition, Living Donation California is supported by a Board of Advisors which includes participating California kidney transplant programs.