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TODAY news for Thursday, May 5, 2005

Loma Linda University Medical Center news

LLUMC hosts donor registry

Organ registry launch participants
Organ registry launch participants gather after the press conference. More than 6,500 people registered the first day.
Loma Linda University Medical Center hosted one of 12 sites throughout California on April 4 to announce the launch of the Donate Life California Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, setup by a coalition of groups that provide organs to hospitals. The website will simultaneously recruit potential organ donors and maintain a list that emergency room doctors can scan to see whether a dead or dying patient might have recorded a desire to donate.

Local city officials, physicians, organ donor families, and recipients all urged Californians to join the registry at a press conference held in Wong Kerlee Inter-national Conference Center.

“Today is the day to make that decision,” says Anees Razzouk, MD, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Loma Linda University Medical Center. “The time is now t
Betsy and Maj. Hal Sellers and their son Dillon
Betsy Sellers speaks about her son’s heart transplant experience while Maj. Hal Sellers holds Dillon.
o sign up.”

Erika Wells, a kidney transplant recipient, encouraged others to join the registry, and told how the organ she received changed her life.

“I was transformed from a mere shadow of a person to my usual, energetic self,” she remarks. Now she is on her way to Yale University for graduate study.

Marine Maj. Hal Sellers, wife Betsy, and son Dillon, all supported the new registry. Dillon was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome in October, 2003, and received a heart transplant in March, 2004, after his father left for Iraq to fight in the war.

“You can be a hero today by signing up at <www.donate LIFECalifornia.org>,” shares Maj. Sellers.

 The newly formed Donate Life California Organ and Tissue Donor Registry took five years and two bills in the state Legislature to create, but in the end it was put together privately with just $4,000. The Donate Life California Organ and Tissue Donor Registry represents a historic shift in how Californians officially sign up to become organ and tissue donors.

For years, Californians willing to be organ donors have been pasting pink dots on their drivers’ licenses, marking their decision to be organ donors should they die. But the little pink dot is not legally binding. Nor is it recorded by any state agency.

Information in the registry is to be kept confidential and accessible only to authorized organ- and tissue-recovery personnel. Those who register also may have friends and family members notified of their wish, clearing a common hurdle of informing loved ones about the choice to donate.

Donate Life California Organ and Tissue Donor Registry seeks to register 150,000 donors this year. More than 6,500 people joined the first day. Its success will limit the hit-and-miss nature of organ donations. Californians needing transplants and wishing to donate organs have a much higher probability of success.

 The registry was approved in 2001 when Senate Bill 108, authored by Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, became law. Like other good ideas dependent on state funds, however, it has been in fiscal limbo the past few years as Sacramento tussled with unending deficits.

Concerned that it might never be funded, Speier in 2003 sponsored Senate Bill 112, switching responsibility for the registry from the budget-bound bureaucracy to the quartet of not-for-profit organ procurement organizations (OPOs).

To become a donor, register at either the English-language site: <www.donate LIFECalifornia.org>, or the Spanish-language site: <www.done VIDAcalifornia.org>.

TODAY news for Thursday, May 5, 2005