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Governor announces new organ-donation law

Schwarzenegger celebrates legislation at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Tuesday

Seven months after saying "I'll be back," California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, alongside Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs, returned to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital yesterday for the ceremonial signing of the organ-donation legislation he had lobbied for in March.

The legislation (SB 1395), which will create the nation's first living-donor registry for kidney transplants and promote organ-donation opportunities, was co-written by State Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose)and promoted by Jobs (himself a liver-transplant recipient).

"The legislation we celebrate here today will bring the promise of lifesaving transplants closer within reach of all Californians. Organ donation is one of the kindest, most generous and most powerful actions that each and every one of us can take,"

Schwarzenegger said in his speech.

Schwarzenegger said currently only 25 percent of Californians are registered organ donors. The creation of the new living-donor registry will help match kidney donors with those awaiting transplants.

Three types of donation will be created through the registry:

■ Direct donation, in which a living donor would provide an organ for a known transplant candidate, such as a mother donating to her daughter.

■ Paired exchanges, in which the registry would assist a donor and a transplant candidate who are medically incompatible to find another pair facing the same problem and have the donors "exchange" their recipients.

■ Non-directed donation, in which a donor does not have a specific recipient identified and donates to any recipient who is a good medical match.

The new law will also require people to choose whether or not to opt in to organ donation when filling out DMV applications.

"When you sign up as a donor you are immediately armed with the power of saving up to eight lives, so this is really extraordinary," Schwarzenegger said.

"This new law will save thousands of lives in California each year, where there are not enough organ donors to go around," Jobs added.

"It's good for everyone; the donor's family knows that their loved one is making it possible for others to live, the really talented surgeons in the hospitals can save the lives they've trained to save, the donor recipients are given the gift of an extended life," he said.

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