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A Mission to Heal

Hope By The Numbers

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Published on April 16, 2018 at 12:00 PM EST

Thousands of people are waiting for a second chance at life, a chance they will only get if more people say “yes” to organ and tissue donation.

Donor Network West, the federally designated organ and tissue recovery organization for northern California and Nevada, partnered with Mapbox to show residents in its donation service area how donation and transplantation impacts their communities.

While registering as a donor is a quick checkbox at the DMV, the life-saving implications of checking that box are great as the donation of organ and tissue is necessary to save and heal lives.

The interactive maps below are powered by data from UNOS, OPTN, Donate Life California, Donate Life Nevada and population data from the U.S. Census Bureau 2016 American Community Survey1 and look specifically at the 13 million people in the 40 counties served by Donor Network West.

Observe how many people in your surrounding community2 are waiting for a transplant and how many have registered as donors3.


How many people are currently waiting for a transplant near you?

Nearly 10,000 people in northern California and Nevada are awaiting a life-saving organ transplant.

Fresno is the county with the most people waiting for a transplant with 1.32 people waiting per 1000 residents. The county with the lowest rate is Plumas with 0.12 people waiting per 1000 residents.


Type your address or select a county below and find out how many people are waiting near you.4

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Is Donor Registration And Race Connected?

Looking at the percentage of registered donor and the racial composition5 of a county or zip, the data6 generally shows a high correlation between the two. Counties with a higher number of white residents generally have a higher percentage of registration. On the other hand, a county with higher numbers of Hispanic residents is likely to have a lower donor registration rate. Other accounted factors such as median income and education7 had a low correlation with the proportion of registered donors.

While the high correlation suggests a relationship between the proportion of white residents and registered donors, we cannot conclude that registered donors are disproportionately white without data on the racial breakdowns of registered donors.

The county with the highest percentage of registered donors is Plumas with 65.94 percent. The county with the lowest percentage is Kings with 35.45 percent. Of the top 5 most populated counties in the donor service area, San Francisco is at the top with 53.04 percent registered donors. Fresno is the lowest of the top 5 most populated counties with 40.36 percent of its residents registered.


On the left, the map shows the proportion of registered donors based on the total population.8 The map on the right shows the racial majority per county and per zip code.

You can select a specific county by using the dropdown or by clicking on the map to zoom to the zip code level.

Registered Donors

Racial Makeup of Population

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  • Asian
  • Black
  • Hispanic
  • Native American
  • Others
  • Pacific Islander
  • Two Or More Races
  • White
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Many factors including cultural background, education, income, acculturation level, religious beliefs, as well as access to early education on organ and tissue donation, play a role in the number of people in a given community who register as donors.

What Can You Do?

Register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor at the DMV or DonorNetworkWest.org. Everyone can register to help save and heal lives. Start the conversation about donation with your family and friends today, learn more about donation, and promote donation using social media.

“We have the honor to serve diverse and multicultural communities in our service area. This uniqueness brings both opportunity and challenges for donation and transplantation. The data show the impact higher diversity and multicultural communities have on lower donor registration rates,” says Cindy Siljestrom, Chief Executive Officer of Donor Network West. “Our community education efforts are tailored to reach these unique communities with messages that will inspire them to consider donation.”


People in the Community

Organ failure or other serious illnesses do not recognize age, race, or socioeconomic status. It can affect anybody, maybe even a family member or friend. Below are some stories about individuals in the communities Donor Network West serves who either have received a transplant or are currently waiting. Each must overcome daily obstacles such as being on dialysis, connected to oxygen and taking medication while waiting and hoping for their life-saving transplants.

The generosity of the communities across the country continues to grow. There have been increases in the number of people on donor registries and the number of organs recovered for transplantation from deceased donors grows each year. While more people are receiving transplants, the need is still outpacing the available organs. 22 people will die today waiting for an organ that doesn’t come in time to save their lives. Sadly, more than 10,000 people have died in the Donor Network West service area while waiting for their life-saving organ transplant since 2010. The opportunity to become an organ donor is extremely rare—less than 1% of all deaths each year. Register as a donor at the DMV or at DonorNetworkWest.org today and have the conversation with your family and friends. Inspire others to Donate Life.

register as a donor

1The ACS is based on an annual sample of around 3 million households. Therefore, the ACS does not provide a precise count. It is designed to give a general sense of population in between censuses. The data from UNOS, OPTN, and Donate Life California/Donate Life Nevada represents numbers from Q4 of 2017.

2The data shown initially uses your current location as a reference.

3The data covers the 40 counties in the Donor Network West service area.

4The addresses are limited to the zip codes located within the Donor Network West service area.

5 White, Black and Asian are non-Hispanic. The categories include white alone, black or African American alone, American Indian and Alaska Native alone, Asian alone, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander alone, some other race alone, two or more races, and Hispanic or Latino. Figures may not add up to 100% because not all race and ethnic groups are shown. SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau

6Data may not be available for all zip code. The data from Donor Network West showed more registrants than the total population for an area. We capped those at 100 percent.

7Median household income in the past 12 months and sex by age by educational attainment for the population 18 years and over - SOURCE: the 2016 American Community Survey.

8 Total Population includes those over the age of 15.