[Editor’s note: We’ve got the whole story on how, in 2009, Apple CEO Steve Jobs got sick, got better, and decided to save some lives. Here’s the part where, in March 2010, Steve Jobs gave a speech at Lucile Packard’s Children’s hospital about how California can pass a law to encourage more people to be organ donors.]
Last year I received a liver transplant. I was very fortunate, because many others died waiting to receive one. Last year in California there were 671 liver transplants but last year there were also over 3,400 people waiting for a liver and over 400 of them died waiting in California.
I was almost one of the ones that died waiting 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 and my doctors here advised me to enroll in a transplant program in Memphis, Tennessee, where the supply/demand ratio of livers is more favourable than it is in California here. And I was lucky enough to get a liver in time. As a matter of fact, this coming week is my one-year anniversary. (Applause)
So why aren’t there more organs available in California? Because in California, like most other states in the nation, you must specifically request to become an organ donor at the Department of Motor Vehicles when you’re there to get or renew your driver’s licence. No one asks you if you want to become a donor. And there’s no marketing campaign to make you aware of this opportunity, either, so unless you know about it and unless your specifically ask, nobody is going to ask you, nobody is going to give you this opportunity. And yet even with this obscure procedure over 20 per cent of Californians have signed up to be organ donors, which is fantastic. But imagine what it could be if everyone knew of this opportunity.
And that’s what the Governor’s bill will do. It will simply require the DMV to ask you if you’d like to become an organ donor. That’s it. Asking this one simple question may double the number of transplant organs available in California — one simple question. And that’s a very high return on investment, especially for the over 20,000 Californians currently waiting for an organ transplant.
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