GIFT OF LIFE—Pamela Endo meets with Agoura Hills Mayor Bill Koehler after sharing with the City Council the story of how her life was saved by an anonymous organ donor.STEPHANIE BERTHOLDO/Acorn NewspapersPamela Endo is alive today because a stranger signed a donor card at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Endo spoke at last week’s Agoura Hills City Council meeting to encourage people to sign up to be an organ donor during “Donate Life” month in April.
Five years ago Endo received a kidney and pancreas transplant, and the gift of life came none too soon.
Endo, who’d had Type 1 diabetes since childhood, had suffered kidney failure and was hooked up to a dialysis machine waiting for a transplant that might not have come.
“The only thing that gave me hope was . . . an organ transplant,” Endo told council members.
In addition to a kidney match, Endo received a pancreatic transplant, which turned out to be a miracle for the Agoura Hills resident. Endo had needed daily insulin injections for as long as she could remember, but once she had a functioning pancreas, insulin shots were no longer required.
“It was a miracle because of a stranger,” Endo said. “I am very grateful to her and always will be.”
Mayor Bill Koehler said that the life that is saved through donating an organ could very well be the life of a beloved family member or friend.
According to the Donate Life California website, there are more than 21,000 Californians waiting for an organ transplant. One-third of those people will die waiting.
Before 2004, no registry had existed for people who wanted to be an organ and/or tissue donor. In the past, a signed donor card and the pink dot on a driver’s license served as a symbol of the intent to donate organs, but it did not place the person on any list or registry.
The Donate Life California registry changed that. Since July 2006, individuals who renew or apply for a driver’s license or ID with the DMV can register their decision to be a donor in the Donate Life California Registry, and the pink “DONOR” dot symbol is preprinted on the applicant’s driver’s license or ID card.
People who are on the registry are guaranteed that their organs, eyes or tissue will be donated upon their death. The website states that one signed card can save up to eight lives through organ donation and enhance the lives of another 50 people through tissue donation.
People can register to be an organ donor at the Department of Motor Vehicles when applying for or renewing a driver’s license or at www.donatelifecalifornia.org.