Immigrant Driver’s Licenses May Have Spurred More Organ Donors

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Long-debated legislation that granted driver’s licenses to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants may have sparked a recent spike in organ and tissue donor registrations and donations in California, state officials say.

Since Assembly Bill 60 went into effect in January, the state’s organ and tissue registry, operated by the nonprofit organization Donate Life California, has seen its donor list grow by 30 percent.

At the same time, Sacramento saw a 14 percent surge in organ and tissue donations from deceased people in the first half of this year, compared to the average for the period over the past three years, according to Sacramento’s organ transplant network Sierra Donor Services. Overall, California witnessed an 8 percent rise in deceased organ donations in the same period, found the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Demand for organs remains high across the state. More than 23,000 Californians, including 1,300 people in the Greater Sacramento region, remain on transplant waiting lists, according to Sierra Donor Services.

“The tragic fact is that one in three of those people will die while waiting for a transplant,” said the transplant network’s spokeswoman Tracy Bryan. “But the rising number of local and statewide donations provides real hope.”

A decade ago, the state required all Department of Motor Vehicles offices to let drivers sign up for the organ donor list when they registered their vehicles. Within a year, California saw the list soar from 9,000 to more than 1 million people, said DMV spokesman Armando Botello.

Botello believes the most recent registration surge was linked to new license holders taking advantage of AB 60’s passage.

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