Caleigh Haber of San Francisco relies on breathing equipment and breathing exercises to keep her alive as she waits for a lung transplant. Photo courtesy Donate Life California Registry

A record 12 million Californians are now registered as organ, eye and tissue donors, making the state’s registry the largest in the world, according to figures released Wednesday.

“Today, we celebrate and thank each and every one of the 12 million people in our state who have signed up on the Donate Life California Registry,” said Cindy Siljestrom, president of the registry’s board. “Your registration gives hope to the more than 123,000 people who wait for the gift of life in California and across the country.”

Each day in the United States, 21 people die waiting for an organ they need. One in five on the national organ transplant waiting list lives in California.

Despite the record number or registered donors in California, only about 40 percent of adults in the state are signed up to be donors, less than the national average of 50 percent, according to Donate Life.

The registry numbers were released in connection with National Donate Life Month.

To register as a donor, check the “yes” box while applying for or renewing a California driver license or ID, or register online at www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.