May 29, 2024

A Santa Clara County attorney now has a new state law named after him. He helped craft the law that will allow Californians to register for the National Marrow Donor Program through the DMV.

Governor Newsom signed Charlie’s Law or Assembly Bill 1800 on Friday. Charles Huang told me his battle with Leukemia lead him to take action, hoping to help save other people’s lives.

“I was just getting sicker and weaker, to the point where I could not pick up my head because I was so weak,” Huang said.

Huang, a Deputy District Attorney for Santa Clara County, says three years ago he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, an aggressive form of blood cancer.

“At the end of the day, I was so lucky to receive a donation from my brother who was initially not qualified and not suitable. But he had to step in because after a global search of the database for bone marrow around the world, they couldn’t find a match for me,” Huang said.

Huang says through his journey, he learned that Asians, Latinos and Black people have a significantly lower chance of finding a matching donor than Whites, which means they have a lower chance of surviving.

“If you can have organ donation through the DMV why not a bone marrow donation? Most people think it’s really painful, and you have to go under anesthesia. It’s all not true. It’s a simple cheek swab,” Huang said.

Huang says after his health improved, he and State Assembly member Evan Low began crafting what is now Assembly Bill 1800, or Charlie’s Law, to help expand the marrow donation database. He says many people simply don’t know how easy it is to donate.

“At that time if there’s a match for you, you run through an apheresis machine, where they harvest your stem cells without having any type of anesthesia or any other type of procedure.”

The DMV now has to add the bone marrow option to license and ID forms, which will take some time. Charlie’s Law will officially become available in 2027.

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