A program to attract new organ and tissue transplant donors kicks off Monday in hopes of whittling away at a waiting list of 20,000 Californians longing for “the gift of life.” The state Department of Motor Vehicles will team up with the Donate Life California Registry in allowing any person to register as a donor by checking off the “Yes” box when applying for or renewing a driver license or identification card. And instead of sticking a pink “donor” dot on the license card as many have done over the past 30 years, the DMV will automatically print the dot onto each license. The new program also adds all donors’ names to a state-authorized database hospitals can access. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2Since the nonprofit Donate Life registry began in 2004, nearly 295,000 people – or 1 percent of California drivers – have signed up online. The pink donor dot and signed donor cards are voluntarily carried by drivers and serve as an indication of intent to donate body parts, DMV officials said. Unfortunately, signed cards aren’t always available and the pink dot doesn’t grant legal consent, they added. In five years, DMV officials hope California’s 23 million licensed drivers will register to become an organ donor upon their death. Family members will not be able to contest their last request, said Bryan Stewart, a spokesman for OneLegacy, the Southern California division of Donate Life. “This makes it easy,” Stewart said. Azusa resident David Ortiz knows what it’s like to receive an organ. Ortiz was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease when he was 11 and by the time he reached 15, his kidneys were barely functioning. Now, 47, transplant No. 264 has defied the odds of living well past the average life of a organ recipient. Doctors told him if it made it beyond 10 years he was lucky. “It’s one of the most unselfish things a person can do,” Ortiz said, “because you are allowing yourself or loved one to go but part of them to live on in someone else. “If they make the decision before a traumatic event occurs, it makes it easier at the time when they have to make the final decision,” said Ortiz, a program manager in the engineering field. His wife, Carmen, who works at the DMV in West Covina, said the decision to donate isn’t easy. “Discuss it with your family. Think about it, ponder it and make the best decision for yourself and your loved ones,” she said. “So many people needs organs. \ can save a lot of lives.” [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2108160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!