Question:  Why does grandma’s driver’s license include a pink donor’s dot?

Answer: People filling out the California Department of Motor Vehicles form to renew a driver’s license or identification card must answer this question: “Do you wish to register to be an organ and tissue donor?” Those who check “YES” will automatically become enrolled in the Donate Life California Registry, and a pink “donor” dot will appear on their new driver’s licenses or ID cards.

The Donate Life California Registry or DLCR is a nonprofit organ and tissue donor registry that assists thousands of Californians awaiting life-saving transplants. It works with the United Network for Organ Sharing and other centers that distribute transplants by relying on scientific and medical factors, including compatible blood type and organ size, urgency of need, and waiting-list priority.

Commonly transplanted organs are heart, liver, pancreas, kidneys, lungs and small bowel. Tissue transplants include skin for a temporary dressing for burns, serious abrasions and other exposed areas; bone to facilitate healing of fractures or prevent amputation; heart valves to replace defective valves; tendons to repair torn ligaments; veins for cardiac by-pass surgery; and corneas to restore sight.

The DLCR respects each donor’s stated wishes. During the signup process, potential donors may check the “Donation Limitations” box to donate only certain organs and tissues. They may also check the “Limitations Research” box to limit the use of their donations to either saving recipients’ lives or supporting medical education and research.

Once a deceased donor’s organ and tissue recovery processes are completed, the body will be immediately released to family members or named beneficiaries. This process usually takes between 24 to 36 hours, and planned funeral arrangements may then proceed.

Although donors who register through the DMV will receive pink “donor” dots on their new driver’s licenses or IDs, such formal notification is not required. Filling out the DMV form will automatically enroll each donor in the DLCR. Instead of relying on the DMV, present and future donors may visit the DLCR website at any time to register, update their current donor profiles or remove their names from the registered donors authorization list should they change their minds.

To become a donor online, visit Donate Life California at donatelifecalifornia.org, and check the box stating, “Sign Me Up Today.” And, if you have already signed up, you may go to the registry website, click on “Update My Donor Profile,” enter your login information and then make necessary changes in your information or designated donations.