Hoping to help others in need of organ transplants, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who underwent a Liver transplant a few months ago, took the stage with California governator Arnold Schwarzenegger to help promote a new bill aiming to encourage more individuals to sign up as potential organ donors.
Speaking to the crowd, Jobs was extremely forthright about his experience and told just how close he was to dying.
“I was almost one of the ones that died waiting for a liver in California last year,” Jobs said, “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, where the supply-demand ratio of livers is more favorable than it is in California.”
“I was very fortunate,” Jobs continued, “Many others died waiting to receive one.”
The San Jose Mercury News reports:
Moved by his good fortune and quick access to an organ, Jobs shared his story last year with California first lady Maria Shriver at a Christmas event, then started discussing ideas with Schwarzenegger to broaden California’s organ donor program. The governor’s office drafted legislation, which is being sponsored by state Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose.
The number of available California organs has declined in recent years, so the demand for organs far outstrips their supply — a consequence of helmet laws and drunken-driving crackdowns that have reduced auto and motorcycle deaths.
In contrast, the Memphis-based Methodist University Hospital, where Jobs had surgery, has one of the shortest waiting times of any liver transplant center in the country, according to a transplant registry.
As part of the proposed bill, drivers would be required to answer a question about whether or not they’d like to be an organ donor before receiving their license. “Those willing to donate would be added to a state registry,” the News adds. As it stands now, drivers in California have to take pro-active steps to sign up as organ donors.
Jobs, of course, was lucky enough to have the resources to fly to Memphis and receive a new liver, but he’s obviously the exception to the rule. California currently has over 21,000 people on waiting lists for organ donations but less than a quarter of California’s drivers have expressed a willingness to be organ donors. Jobs is hoping that the bill will not only increase the pool of potential donors, but will also raise awareness about the thousands in need of dire medical attention across the state.
“Last year, 400 other Californians died waiting,” said Jobs, I could have died.”
Praising Jobs for his efforts, Schwarzenegger exclaimed, “What I like about Steve is, because he is a wealthy man that helped him get the transplant. But he doesn’t want that — that only wealthy people can get the transplant and have a plane waiting to take him anywhere he needs to go. He wants every human being, if you have no money at all or if you’re the richest person in the world, everyone ought to have the right to get a transplant immediately.”
You can check out a video of the news conference below.