Skip to main content

Asm. Evan Low Introduces ‘Charlie’s Law’ to Combat Cancer through DMV Opt-ins for Bone Marrow, Blood Stem Cell Donor Registries

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO, CA — Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) introduced legislation this month to allow California residents to easily enroll in bone marrow or blood stem cell registries when applying for a driver’s license or identification card at the DMV.

AB 1045, or “Charlie’s Law,” would expand the National Marrow Donor Program’s database by allowing DMV visitors to check a box to opt into the registry. The person would then complete a brief medical history questionnaire and submit a cheek swab. The National Marrow Donor Program, which was established through an act of Congress in 1987, cross-references millions of people across the globe to find matches for blood stem cell and bone marrow transplants. 

“The pandemic has proven we have zero time to waste when it comes to overhauling our healthcare industry,” said Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley). “Crowdsourcing data has proven to be the most effective tool in sharing information, so why not be creative and use a dull DMV visit to help save lives? The fact that someone could kickstart the process to cure another person’s cancer with the check of a box is empowering.”

The inspiration for “Charlie’s Law” comes from a recent donor drive for longtime public servant Charles “Charlie” Huang, a 45-year-old deputy district attorney in Santa Clara County who suffered a recurrence of an aggressive form of leukemia. He was first diagnosed in 2019. In addition to his work as a prosecutor and co-founder of the National Asian Pacific Islander Prosecutors Association, Huang is a husband and father of three children.

“Charlie’s life has been defined by perseverance, honor, and integrity, and I believe this bill will honor him in a way that will outlive all of us,” Assemblymember Low said.

As the DMV overhauls its systems and moves more processes online, such as driver’s license renewals, now is a perfect time to raise Californians’ awareness of the registry and increase enrollment among diverse racial and ethnic communities, which have been disproportionately impacted during the pandemic.

Californians between the ages of 18 and 40 are eligible to register as bone marrow donors, and potentially matched donors may opt out at any stage of the process.

According to the National Marrow Donor Program’s “Be the Match” registry, 70% of blood cancer patients do not have a fully matched donor in their family. Patients of diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds often face more difficult situations in finding a matching donor, which is why the California State Legislature has taken steps to raise awareness for the registry among Black, Latinx, AAPI, Native Americans, and other underrepresented Californians. 

Huang and others in the Asian American Pacific Islander community with severe forms of leukemia are especially at risk, as just 41% of AAPI patients have a chance of finding an adult bone marrow match, according to the National Marrow Donor Program.

“Many people do not realize they have within them the blood stem cells that could cure leukemia or other deadly blood cancers and diseases,” said Ellie Beaver, Senior Manager of Health Policy for Be the Match. “Be The Match urgently needs to diversify our national registry of living donors to give more patients a chance at finding their match. It only takes a simple cheek swab to join. We are grateful for Assemblymember Low and his work to introduce Californians to such an easy way to save a life.” 

In July 2006, the Donate Life California registry, a confidential database that allows Californians to share their organ and tissue donation wishes, partnered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue license or ID applicants a pink dot. The dot indicates that the cardholder is an organ donor. Since the program’s inception, more than 17 million Californians have registered as organ donors with Donate Life. 

Unlike the Donate Life California registry, enrollment as a bone marrow donor with the National Marrow Donor Program is not a binding contract and does not require a registrant to donate.

AB 1045 will be taken up the Legislature at the beginning of 2022.


Evan Low represents Silicon Valley in the California State Assembly. He was elected in 2014 after serving as a Councilmember and Mayor for the City of Campbell. Assemblymember Low now serves as the Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus and Chair of the state’s Business and Professions Committee. He also serves as co-Chair of the California Legislative Technology & Innovation Caucus and Vice Chair of the Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.