SACRAMENTO, CA –
Deanna Santana says her paid position as Senior Public Education Coordinator for the Organ Procurement Organization (OPO), Sierra Donor Services (SDS)* is so much more than a job -- it’s a calling -- to carry on her son’s legacy of generosity. Scott Santana was just 17 years old when he became a donor following a fatal car accident.
“On the worst day of our lives, five families got the best news of their lives,” is how Deanna Santana remembers that day in May 2011 when her son saved five lives through organ donation and restored sight to two others through corneal donation.
Ms. Santana says she is incredibly honored to be elected to the national policy-setting OPTN/UNOS** Board of Directors and will leverage her own personal experience to encourage other donor families to find a way to hope through the heroism of their loved ones’ donation.
“I feel my contribution will be to help pave the way to donation for as many families as possible,” says Santana. “By sharing Scott’s story and our experience, I hope to help others find that shining light in the very darkest hours of their lives. For my family Scott’s donation created the one good thing that we could focus on and continues to bring us comfort, knowing our son left this world a better place.”
Santana says she feels uniquely qualified for the board position as she has been both a small business owner and an educator. Those roles helped her grow from her initial involvement with Sierra Donor Services as a volunteer, into her current paid position of Senior Public Education Coordinator. She notes that using tools gained from her experience, she has created new and exciting connections with communities to encourage all to become registered organ, eye and tissue donors and has also helped spread the life-giving donation message via traditional and social media networks.
To be involved on this national OPTN/UNOS board and serve others touched by donation/transplantation is a highlight in my personal journey, as well as a wonderful tribute to a selfless 17-year-old who made his own decision to become an organ, eye and tissue donor. As a Public Education Coordinator in charge of our Donate Life Ambassadors, I have adopted countless recipients who honor all donors by living life the best way they know how. This inspires me to work harder each day to save even more lives.
Ms. Santana notes that setting policies for organ donation is profoundly important as there continues to be a critical shortage of donors and an ever-expanding list of those waiting for life-saving transplants in the U.S. Ms. Santana will help the OPTN/UNOS Board of Directors develop policies to continue to fairly and equitably allocate the limited supply of organ donations to the 123,000 people now awaiting a second chance at life.
*Sierra Donor Services (SDS) is a Dialysis Clinic Inc. Donor Services (DCIDS) subsidiary. SDS is a nonprofit agency dedicated to meeting the needs of the community by providing families the option of organ and tissue donation for transplantation and research. SDS serves Inland Northern California, including Sacramento, ten surrounding counties, Santa Rosa and Northern Nevada.
**UNOS is the private, non-profit organization that manages the U.S. organ transplant system. UNOS is under contract with the federal government to manage the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). This national network facilitates organ recovery and placement and develops equitable organ distribution policies. Organ matching and distribution policies are developed by committees and a board of directors comprised of organ procurement and transplant professionals, patients, donor families, and the public. As the transplant field continues to advance, organ allocation policies evolve. Goals are to make the best use of every donated organ and give every transplant candidate a fair chance to receive the organ he or she needs. Under federal law, all US transplant centers and organ procurement organizations (OPOs) must be members of the OPTN to receive Medicare funds for transplants. UNOS member organizations include 58 local OPOs that facilitate organ recovery and placement in the U.S. UNOS manages the national transplant waiting list, matching donors to recipients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.