Apple encourages organ donation with new software update

Apple will soon make it easier to be an organ donor.

Just a few taps on their iPhone, and users will be enrolled in a national registry, Donate Life America.

The option will be included in the "Health" app, when the iOS 10 operating system is introduced this fall. "Use the app and tell your loved ones," enthused recent kidney donor Roy Chernus, reacting to the announcement.  

Chernus is a Superior Court Judge who last month, traded his judicial robe for a hospital gown.

"I look at it as kind of a karma thing. I could be the one who needed a kidney," elaborated Chernus. "I would encourage people to do this. This is a way that you can save someone's life!"

Apple founder Steve Jobs died waiting for a liver transplant.

An estimated 120,000 Americans are currently awaiting lifesaving transplants.

"This is a very big deal," said Cathy Olmo, of the Donor Network West in San Ramon.

It coordinates all Northern California's transplants.

Surveys show many people support organ donation and intend to be a donor, but never get around to signing up.

"The ability to do it in the moment- at the dining table, or in the BART train, anywhere that you think about it, just go on the app and register, it's phenomenal," exclaimed Olmo.

Roy Churnus was not a kidney match for his friend Penny Dufficy, who was suffering from an auto-immune disorder.

But in order to find her a match, he pursued being an "altruistic donor".

He and Dufficy became part of a "daisy chain" of surgeries.

Across the country, sixteen people donated a kidney, and sixteen strangers received them, a coordinated chain of giving. 

And for Dufficy, it was freedom, after almost two years of dialysis.

"Roy stepped in and made it all the way through the screening," said Dufficy gratefully, "so he's the one who saved me."

For Chernus, it was an easy ruling to make.

Duficy's husband Mike served with Chernus on the Marin County bench before his retirement.

The couples have vacationed together for years, until Penny's health declined. 

Their two surgeries were one day apart at UCSF.
"I was in such a good mood going to the hospital that day," recalled Chernus, "knowing that penny was already out and doing well!"  

Now they have new travel plans to make, thanks to organ donation.

"With kidneys you can do it and live. I'm proof of that," observed Chernus.

"But for other people, if you're not around, then what a great idea that part of you can live on, and help someone else."

Judge Chernus plans to return to his courtroom Thursday, exactly four weeks after having his kidney removed.

It's estimated that someone dies every hour in the U.S. waiting for an organ transplant.