Source: Fox News Latino
Los Angeles – The list of organ donors in California has reached about 8 million, the highest in the country in terms of numbers but one of the lowest in proportion to the total number of residents in the state.
"Although California's list is the largest, the reality is that it still remains far behind the rest of the nation," Elena de la Cruz, spokesperson for the Done Vide California/Donate Life California organ and tissue donor registry, tells Efe.
"In California, only 30 percent of the population over 18 is signed up, which puts it among the last 10 in the nation," she says.
The national leaders are Arkansas and Montana, each with 76 percent, followed by Utah and Washington state, each with 72 percent, and Oregon with 71 percent, according to figures supplied by Donate Life America.
Since 2005, when the registration of organ donors in the Golden State was begun, about 7.8 million people have signed up, an indicator of the success the alliance between Donate Life California and the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Latinos are the most numerous ethnic group waiting for transplants, especially kidney transplants, amounting to more than 7,500 patients of the 20,000 that are on the list statewide, but despite this need in California only 14 percent of Hispanic adults are registered as organ donors.
Among the reasons for that low participation are fear, lack of information and the myths surrounding the issue.
"Sometimes people think that to have a pink spot on their driver's license (the symbol that someone is an organ donor) means that if they have an accident not everything will be done to save them, which is absolutely not true. Everything possible is always done to save the life of the person and only when all efforts fail does the opportunity to donate arise," De la Cruz says.
"There are also many fears. There are people who think that perhaps they're going to take their organs before they've died. We've heard many horror stories in the movies, but it's not true. In the state of California, two doctors have to determine that brain death has occurred for donation to proceed," she adds.
Studies show that people in relatively rural states with lower populations and greater community ties over time tend to sign up to be donors. "Therefore, we believe that in such a large and heavily populated state like California there is still much work to do," De la Cruz says.
When someone dies, their organs and tissues can save eight lives - by donating their heart, kidneys, lungs, liver, pancreas and small intestine. Also they can help improve the quality of life for more than 50 people by donating their corneas, skin, bones and veins, among other things.
"Of the 234.8 million people over 18 who are in the United States, 94.6 million are registered donors. That shows that the public is generous and is inclined to help others by means of donation, but there's still a ways to go, especially when there are so many people waiting" to receive donated organs, De la Cruz insists.