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March 24, 2010 > Schwarzenegger announces legislation to increase organ donation opportunities

Schwarzenegger announces legislation to increase organ donation opportunities

Submitted By Aaron McLear
Photos By Justin Short

On March 19, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Apple Co-Founder and CEO Steve Jobs and Senator Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara) announced, at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, the introduction of SB 1395 which will make it easier for Californians to affirm their preferred organ donor status. Authored by Senator Alquist, the bill will also create the nation's first living donor registry for kidney transplants - the California Living Donor Registry - to better connect donors with those needing a transplant.

"Organ donation is one of the kindest, most generous and powerful actions each and every one of us can take. With thousands of people in California and throughout the nation currently waiting for a transplant, this legislation represents a new and important resource to increase donor rates," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "I am excited to partner with the legislature to implement this life-saving legislation and make California a leader in organ donations."

Nation-wide, there are more than 100,000 individuals waiting for an organ transplant, including more than 21,000 Californians. California residents are already a strong donor force, with over 6 million individuals registered, and this legislation will improve their ability to give. SB 1395 will enable Californians to choose either to register as an organ donor or consider registration at another time. This choice would be made by answering a mandated question through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) driver license application/renewal or state ID card application process.

The California Living Donor Registry will facilitate connecting those who want to donate a kidney with those needing a transplant. There would be three types of donation.

"Direct donation" would entail a living donor providing an organ for a known transplant candidate, such as a mother donating a kidney to her daughter. "Paired exchanges" would utilize the registry to assist a donor and a transplant candidate who are medically incompatible with another pair facing the same problem. For example, if a mother wants to donate a kidney to her daughter but is medically incompatible, the registry will help find another pair facing the same problem. In this case, the donor in the first pair would donate to the transplant candidate in the second pair and vice versa. "Non-directed donation" involves a donation without a specific recipient indentified and donates to any recipient that is a good medical match. This practice has grown in recent years and this legislation will help accelerate it to potentially save countless lives.

Governor Schwarzenegger has signed significant legislation related to organ donation since he entered office. In September 2004, he signed AB 2445 by Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla (D-Pittsburg) to create the Advanced Health Care Directive Registry at the Secretary of State. An advance health care directive lets one's physician, family and friends know one's health care preferences, including the types of special treatment wanted or unwanted at end of life, one's desire for diagnostic testing, surgical procedures, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and organ donation.

In October 2005, the Governor signed SB 689 by Senator Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) establishing the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA), which required the DMV to collect organ tissue donor designation information on its application for driver licenses and identification cards.

In October 2007, Schwarzenegger enacted AB 1689 by Assemblywoman Sally Lieber (D-Mountain View) that revised the UAGA to allow anatomical gifts to be used for transplantation, research, therapy and education. The revised UAGA regulates gifts and disposition of donated bodies and body parts.

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