Written by Union-Tribune Editorial Board
It’s universally known that the late Steve Jobs, the master designer of the digital revolution, touched millions, possibly billions, of minds.
What’s not so well known is the role Jobs played in saving the lives of Californians.
By late 2008, Jobs’ pancreatic cancer had advanced to the point where his only hope was a liver transplant. In California that year, 3,400 patients were waiting for a donated liver; 671 received one.
As Jobs would later concede, he was lucky. He had the means to go to Tennessee where the supply/demand ratio was in his favor. By the end of ‘09, Jobs was back on top of the business world.
But the near-death experience concentrated the mind of the apolitical Jobs. He turned into a champion for the sickest people on earth.
In December 2009, Jobs enlisted Maria Shriver to persuade her then-husband, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, to back legislation that would require Californians applying for a driver’s license or ID to answer yes or no to one of the most important moral questions of our time: Do you want to be an organ donor?
“Asking this one simple question,” Jobs said, “may double the number of transplant organs available in California – one simple question.”
Jobs envisioned a quantum leap from the current 30 percent donor registration rate at the DMV.
If that sounds like a healthy number of pink dots on licenses, it is. Nearly 9 million. But consider this unhealthy number: 20,000 Californians are waiting for an organ transplant.
Thanks to Jobs’ lobbying, Senate Bill 1395. authored by Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara, was signed into law by Schwarzenegger a year ago. It went into effect in June.
Also included in Alquist’s bill is a brave new venture that Jobs passionately endorsed: The creation of the first statewide living donor registry under the management of Donate Life California, the organization that oversees California’s after-death organ and tissue registry.
Still in the planning stage, California’s living registry will enroll altruistic individuals willing to give a kidney or portions of lung and liver so that others may live.
Last month, Donate Life California named Charlene Zettel as its first CEO. Zettel, a former assemblywoman and current regent of the University of California, lives in Encinitas. Lisa Stocks, also of Encinitas, is the president of Donate Life California’s board of directors.
As the world mourned the death of the amazing Steve Jobs, his last legacy was easy to overlook.
By the way, you don’t have to make a trip to the DMV to register as an after-death donor. You can join nearly 9 million other Californians by clicking on to www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to register in Jobs’ honor. There’s no cooler way to pay your respects.
“You Have the Power to Donate Life – to become an organ and tissue donor Sign-up today!
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
New Zealand, register at Organ Donation New Zealand
South Africa, http://www.odf.org.za/
United States, organdonor.gov
United Kingdom, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You