Schwarzenegger, Jobs team up for organ donations

March 19, 2010 7:20:53 PM PDT
Apple CEO Steve Jobs made a surprise appearance Friday to push for a new law to get more people to be organ donors. Jobs is about to celebrate the one-year anniversary of his own liver transplant, and he's hoping to help save other lives too.

There are more than 21,000 Californians waiting for organ transplants right now. Sadly, many will die before they can find a donor.

"I was almost one of the ones that did wait for a liver in California last year, I was receiving great care here at Stanford, but there were simply not enough livers in California to go around," Jobs said.

Jobs flew to Tennessee to get his liver transplant. Now he's pushing for a bill to get more people to volunteer as organ donors here in California.

"It will simply require the DMV to ask you if you would like to be an organ donor," Jobs said.

The bill is being introduced by State Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara. She joined Jobs and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in front of an audience full of doctors and transplant patients.

The idea is simple.

"The DMV applicant would be required to either choose yes and become a donor or choose to consider registration at another time," Schwarzenegger said.

More than 20 percent of Californians have already registered as organ donors. Some of them were on hand at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital to encourage others.

Two-year-old Jonathan showed ABC7 his scar from a liver transplant just two weeks ago. The donor was his father, who has a scar of his own.

"It's a pretty big one. I gave about 25 percent of my liver to him," Jonathan's father Benjamin Heng said.

"It grows into his entire liver. So it's amazing because with a living donor, it actually grows back in dad and he won't have to go without part of his liver. It will actually grow back, and this little one gets that little bitty bit and the whole thing grows back," Jonathan mother Regina Pareigis said.

Doctors are hoping Jobs' involvement in the proposed bill will give it the high profile it needs to pass and he got a chance to swap stories with other transplant patients.

About 85 percent of the people hoping for transplants are waiting for kidneys. The bill would also make California the first state in the nation to create a registry specifically for kidneys.

Written and produced by Jennifer Olney


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