New World Record: 12 Million Californians Say “YES!” to Saving Lives as Registered Organ, Eye & Tissue Donors

22,000 Californians still wait for life-saving transplants

SAN DIEGO--()--12 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.”

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 at

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.”

To read more about Caleigh and other Californians touched by organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation, go to

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.

Fast Facts from Donate Life California:

  • One in five on the national organ transplant waiting list lives in California.
  • More than 28,000 people in the U.S. begin new lives each year thanks to organ transplants (about 79 transplants every day).
  • People of all ages, ethnicities and medical histories can register to be organ, eye and tissue donors.
  • All major religions support or permit organ, eye and tissue donation.
  • The number one priority of medical personnel is to save your life.

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.

About Donate Life California:

Donate Life California is the nonprofit, state-authorized organ, eye and tissue donor registry. Individuals can add their name to the registry by checking “YES!” every time they renew/apply for their driver license or ID card at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This ensures their desire to donate life will be carried out. A pink “DONOR” dot is added to their driver license or ID as a symbol of their decision. Individuals can also sign up online at or As a public service, the registry ensures all personal information is kept confidential and stored in a secure database, accessible only to authorized organ and tissue recovery personnel at the time of an actual donation opportunity. The registry is administered by Donate Life California and California’s four nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organizations (OPOs): Donor Network West, Lifesharing, OneLegacy and Sierra Donor Services.


Donate Life California
Brianne Mundy Page, 858-220-8351

Release Summary

12 million people in California have said "YES!" to saving lives by registering as organ, eye and tissue donors with Donate Life California. The milestone comes during National Donate Life Month.


Donate Life California
Brianne Mundy Page, 858-220-8351