The founder of JJ's Legacy, Lori Malkin, believes becoming an organ donor is important. For her, it's personal. When her son Jeff was killed in a car accident in 2009, she found out his organs were able to be donated. He had not decided to become an organ donor during his life, so she and her husband made the decision for him and decided to donate.
His heart went to a man named Carl. His kidney went to a woman named Jackie. Malkin was able to meet Carl and listen to her son's heartbeat after he had passed. Jackie comes to Bakersfield every July to celebrate Jeff's birthday with his family.
“You’re in a disbelief that maybe somebody has passed away. You’re really not 100 percent sure what’s going on or what your surroundings are," she says.
To prevent having to make that decision during a tough time, Malkin says people should decide to become an organ donor themselves. If someone passes, two of their loved ones need to agree to donate for the process to begin.
Procurement Transplant Coordinator Mauri Armijo says making the decision yourself helps your family in the long run.
“The number one reason people tell us no is they don’t know what their loved one wanted so that’s why it’s important to register because we can follow what your wishes are and make sure that happens for those in need," Armijo says.